For the third year running, local businessman Neville Woods has pledged to forgo his Christmas dinner and fast for 24 hours this Christmas Day to raise vital funds to drill wells in East Africa.
The Supervalu and Centra owner first committed to the Christmas Day 24 hour Fast in 2012 and has committed to the challenge each year since.
Neville first got involved with Portadown based charity, Fields of Life following a trip to Uganda in October 2010. Neville travelled out on a fact finding trip organised by the charity and led by Fields of Life director, Angus Wilson.
The team of nine men all from Northern Ireland and from various backgrounds, travelled across Uganda visiting various Fields of Life projects and witnessing first-hand the challenges and poverty the people of East Africa face on a daily basis.
Speaking about his experience Neville says: “During our first trip to Uganda with Fields of Life we saw a real need for fresh drinking water. We watched women washing clothes in rivers and ponds and children drinking the same water. One child in five dies from dirty water related illness. Back home through simply raising funds to drill wells we can save the lives of thousands of children.”
When the team returned home they were touched by the real need for fresh water and The Water for Life Initiative was born. The team embarked on a two year fundraising campaign to fund the purchase of a second larger drilling rig for Fields of Life and the drilling of 25 wells. The team undertook many fundraising activities and reached their target within two years. Through the acquisition of a second rig, Fields of Life now have the capacity to drill 10 wells a month.
In November 2012 Neville travelled back to Uganda where he got to see the new Fields of Life rig in operation bringing safe clean water to a rural community in war torn Northern Uganda. When Neville returned home he committed to a 24 hour fast on Christmas Day 2012 and as a result of missing the biggest meal of the year, he raised an incredible £21,000 enabling the charity to drill six wells and bring fresh water to more than 6,000 villagers.
Neville committed to the challenge again on 25th December this time raising funds for a third drilling rig for Fields of Life to extend their water drilling programme further. Neville, joined by Angus Wilson in the challenge, raised an incredible £15,000.
Reflecting on the generous support towards his Christmas Day challenges, Neville said: “I have been overwhelmed by the support shown over the past few years towards Fields of Life’s water drilling programme. People have been extremely generous through their donations and also with words of encouragement.
“It motivates me each time I travel out to Uganda and spend time with the people in the rural villages and the Fields of Life drilling team who work relentlessly six days a week. To see people in 2014 drinking water from sources shared with animals containing many diseases is heartbreaking. The more wells Fields of Life can drill, the more people will live.”
To make a donation and support Neville in his challenge, please contact: Neville Woods on 07927 963 018 or call into one the following stores to make a contribution (Centra, Tandragee; Centra, Portadown; or SuperValu, Richhill) Or Helen Keown at the Fields of Life office on 02838 390395 (Fields of Life, 25 Carn Road, Craigavon, County Armagh, BT63 5WG.)