Founding member of CAFOD dies

One of the founding members of CAFOD, Elspeth Orchard, has passed away at the age of 86. Mrs Orchard, of Marlow in Buckinghamshire, was one of the National Board of Catholic Women which in 1961 organised the first Family Fast Day in response to a request from the people of the Caribbean island of Dominica to help a mother and baby health care programme. In an interview with CAFOD last year, Mrs Orchard recalled how the women had been astonished to raise £6000 in the first year, after expecting to raise no more than £500. "We were very keen that we should do it not just as a giving thing, but as a praying thing. We should really make an effort to remember people of the Third World, not just give them food and things but do what we could to support them," she said in the interview. "It was a lovely feeling after the first Fast Day, that people were really making an effort." Mrs Orchard recalled how, following the first Fast Day, she replied to every letter of donation individually, working on her drawing room floor with her aughter and pulling addresses from the Catholic Directory. "We weren't doing anything special, we were just doing what we thought we ought to do, remembering that we are all God's children." The Family Fast Day continued from strength to strength, raising £35,000 in the second year, and £60,000 in the third year. Its runaway success led to the creation of CAFOD. CAFOD director Chris Bain said: "Elspeth was a woman of great vision and commitment. She was able to see potential for growth in both ideas and people. "Despite the fact that she lived a very busy life, Elspeth was able to put herself in the shoes of someone less fortunate that herself, such as the poor mothers in Dominica who were the inspiration for the first Family Fast Day. "CAFOD was blessed to enjoy her support for over forty years and Elspeth will be much missed by all those who knew her." Elspeth Orchard had six children. One daughter, Sister Gillian CJ died in 1999. Another of her daughters, Frances, is Vicar General of the Congregation of Jesus. (We will be providing a full obituary in a later posting)

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