Popular town fundraisier takes a 'break' after 35 years

George Roberts

A town favourite is still raising money for charity this year despite the complications of COVID-19.

This October, 83-year-old Barbara Walmsley was supposed to be completing her 35th annual ‘fast’ at Sainsbury’s in Providence Place, raising money for Oxfam.

However, due to COVID-19 and needing to stay at home to look after her husband Charles, who is unwell, Barbara will not be doing her fast this year.

Despite that, her regular sponsors will still be donating money to her cause, and the public can still donate to Barbara if they choose.

She said: "You can’t social distance if you’re holding a collection tin, there’s no way I would be allowed to collect.

“What surprised me is that when I wrote to my sponsors and explained why I couldn’t do it this year, they sent in donations anyway. It was so kind and encouraging, and I really appreciated it.

“I do miss it. People get used to seeing me do it. Of course people would realise why I can’t this year, otherwise they’d probably think I’d died.”

Over the last 35 years, Barbara has been a regular sight in Sainsbury’s, appearing for one weekend in October, more recently with her companion ‘Boxfam Barbara’.

The cardboard figurine has ‘fasted’ on Barbara’s behalf after she was advised not do it herself for health reasons a few years ago.

The octogenarian has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for Oxfam over the years by doing the fast, and hopes to raise a bit more this year despite her absence. One of the priority areas for Oxfam this year is providing more sanitary conditions to refugee camps to help reduce the spread of the virus.

If you would like to donate to Barbara’s cause, you can do so at the Oxfam shop in Maidenhead High Street when it reopens, or donate online at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/barbara-walmsley5

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