Published in January 2023

Fundraiser Sarah Seymour raised over £800 by learning and performing the music piece 'Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor' for her local church congregation. Hear her full fundraising story:

"I have often felt drawn to charities supporting communities in Africa as from travelling a lot in the past it seems to me that people in developing countries are very definitely our ‘neighbours’ given that we can reach them in a few hours of air travel. I wanted to buck the trend of ‘let’s help people in this country first’ and any cynicism about donating to a charity supporting those in Africa out of suspicion that it will be embezzled by corrupt politicians and make a real difference to people who lack the most basic thing we need for survival; clean water.  

I was thinking along these lines when I met Sarah Field (trustee for Sand Dams Worldwide), who bought a painting I had done of cows in a pool of water. 

"We got talking and when she told me she worked for Sand Dams Worldwide I felt the hairs on the back of my neck tingle as I realised this was literally an answer to prayer; a charity that was exactly what I had been looking for to help in some way."

Before Sarah had left I had made a commitment to help fundraise and had the idea of learning Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor as a fundraising challenge came into my head the next morning while I was practising for services during Advent.

This is a wonderful piece of music. It’s probably my all time favourite organ piece and I had had the score since 2007, a year after I began organ lessons. Of course, at that time it was far too technically difficult for me. This year, however, when I picked it up, I felt it was just about within my reach if I pulled out all the stops (see what I did there?!)

I needed a good excuse to play this piece in church (it takes about 11 minutes) so setting it as a challenge was a good way of also getting it on the playlist. The rectors in both the churches I planned to perform it were really good about allowing me to get it in the diary and supported me by getting it publicised in church bulletins. 

A lot of the success in fundraising, however, was down to writing about the event on Facebook regularly; explaining what I was doing, why and how I was getting on, what I was struggling with, what practise techniques I was using and so forth. 

It was really lovely getting encouraging comments from all over the place and by people I knew wouldn’t be able to come to the performance but were still generously encouraging me with kind words and donations. 

"When I performed in church it was just great. I was really touched by the way people supported me. I was glad they had all been prepped for it and knew it would take a long time and that I was doing it for Sand Dams Worldwide."

I’m not a massively talented organist and my performances weren’t perfect but people didn’t seem to mind; they just enjoyed the spectacle of someone having a go at a brilliant piece of music and almost getting it to sound right.

I raised a total of £815, which I was amazed and delighted with.

I would like to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for supporting me and this charity at a time when everyone was feeling the financial pinch. Their generosity of money and spirit was a fantastic encouragement to me and I was really happy all the way through the experience.

I also have another fundraising plan for SDW which will involve painting this time. Watch this space!"

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