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Martin Shirley: Inspiring support across Somerset for nearly ten years

Fundraiser, champion, and campaigner, but most of all, friend, we’ve been privileged to have Martin Shirley’s support on behalf of the South Somerset Peace Group for nearly ten years. Talking about our work at fundraising coffee mornings, and collecting hundreds of petition signatures are just some of the ways that Martin has supported us over the years.


Martin (bottom row second from left) with members of South Somerset Peace Group and Fred and John from HI (either side).

Martin (bottom row second from left) with members of South Somerset Peace Group | © HI

Martin, who has worked for charities in places including Bangladesh and West Africa, first heard about HI's work with conflict-affected communities through his long association with the South Somerset Peace Group.

In the run up to the 2003 war in Iraq, Martin, along with other local campaigners in Ilminster and the surrounding area, established a local Stop the War group which evolved into the peace group. It was through a talk one evening that Martin found out more about our work supporting the victims of conflict in places like Afghanistan, Gaza and Iraq.

Inspired by Martin’s support, South Somerset Peace Group has raised funds for HI for a number of years. In 2014 the group organised an evening of poetry and prose to raise funds. One member even asked that donations should be made to us instead of receiving presents on her birthday! The group also hosted a talk by our Mine Action expert, Fred Maio, and John from HI UK.

Martin (left) with campaigners outside 10 Downing Street.
Martin (left) with fellow campaigners handing in our Lives and Limbs petition at 10 Downing Street, March, 2015. © HI

An effective way of combating landmines and cluster munitions

Martin explains why South Somerset Peace Group decided to support HI's work:

“The group supports HI as a practical and effective way of combating landmines and cluster munitions through their work clearing minefields, assisting victims, risk education and campaigning against these horrific weapons.”

In 2015 Martin joined other campaigners to hand-in a petition at 10 Downing Street. The petition, which Martin had collected hundreds of signatures for, called for UK Aid to provide more life-saving risk education to prevent accidents involving landmines and explosive remnants of war, and to urgently prioritise the clearance of contaminated areas.

Demining in Mozambique was lead by brave local deminers like Mariano and Olga.Mozambique declared mine free

A long civil war had left Mozambique one of the most mined countries on the planet.

Between 1998 and 2015, HI deminers cleared 16 million square metres of land, and neutralised 6,000 landmines and 5,000 explosive remnants of war.

Thanks to supporters like Martin, our local deminers were able to free their country from the scourge of landmines.

Read more about an historic moment achieved by brave deminers like Mariamo and Olga.


Raising funds and awareness at every opportunity

Away from the peace group, Martin has fundraised for our work in a number of ways. Every November he talks to local residents about out work at a coffee morning he organises at the village hall in Chaffcombe, Somerset.

Martin also encourages members of an Italian class, which he hosts, to make a contribution to our work. Martin explains:

“An Italian conversation group that meets at my home every Friday asks members to contribute 30p for tea and biscuits. I ask attendees to put whatever they like in a pickle jar with HI labels on and a note from Beatrice at HI UK. The contributions build up quite usefully, and each December some of the members put in a note rather than handing round Christmas cards.”

A big thank you from the HI team, on behalf of our deminers and all the people we support!

Get involved

Help us ensure that the victims of conflict are not forgotten. Take up the Forgotten 10 Challenge from 1st to 10th December.

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