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Great British Bake Off star Martha Collison pops corn for poverty

30 May 2017

  • Tearfund ambassador calls on thousands at church festival to sign up to give 
  • Festival-goers help provide essential farming training for 3,400 families 
  • Charity warns more must be done to save thousands from extreme hunger

CELEBRITY baker Martha Collison has highlighted the plight of people living in the midst of a hunger crisis in Malawi by popping corn. 

The star, who is an ambassador for Tearfund, took to the stage at Big Church Day Out today (Sunday) to urge the thousands of Christians gathered to think about what they can do to help break the hunger cycle in the drought-stricken country. 

Malawi suffers periodic hunger and today up to 6.5million people - almost 40 per cent of the population - are struggling to recover after two years of consecutive drought. 

One Malawian mother called Sylvia Ngondo, 34, said told how she has struggled to feed her four children all her life. She has just one bag of maize left to last six months when it would usually last six weeks. 

She said: “It is just a matter of surviving. When there is no maize my children are crying throughout the day, looking for food.” 

The charity handed out 1,500 hundred bags of popcorn kernels during the festival in West Sussex, to demonstrate how essential a simple item like grain is to women like Sylvia. 

Baker Martha also put popcorn to use in a recipe demonstration with young festival-goers to further highlight the plight of the millions of Malawians struggling to survive. 

She said: “For me, a bag of popcorn is just a useful ingredient in a recipe but for someone like Sylvia a single bag of maize determines the survival of her family.” 

The annual festival brought together more than 22,000 Christians from across the world for one of the biggest events on the church calendar, featuring contemporary Christian bands and entertainment for the whole family. 

Martha spoke passionately to festival-goers about how her faith motivates her to help people to find ways to lift themselves out of poverty and described the life-changing work she has witnessed Tearfund carrying out. 

The 20-year-old said: “It is sometimes hard to walk in the shoes of someone who lives thousands of miles away but having visited some of Tearfund’s projects I know just how crucial it is that the charity continues following Jesus where the need is greatest. We must act now to put an end to hunger in Malawi.” 

Tearfund’s Head of East and Southern Africa Donald Mavunduse said: “Malawi has been trapped in a hunger cycle for many years. Every time drought hits people have fewer reserves to deal with it. That’s why we are training thousands of families in vital farming skills, helping them to make the most of the land even in a challenging climate, and to produce enough surplus to last during dry periods.”

Tearfund asked supporters to commit to giving £5 a month. Over the weekend at the Big Church Day Out, enough supporters signed up to provide farming training for 3,400 families, helping them to secure a hunger-free future. 

Donald Mavunduse said: “We are hugely grateful for the generosity of festival-goers at this year’s Big Church Day Out. However, it is crucial that more people make a long-term investment in the future of Malawi to break the hunger cycle and help women like Sylvia to stand on their own two feet.” 

More information about Tearfund's work in Malawi is here.

Notes for editors

  • For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Tearfund’s media team: Rehema Figueiredo on 07962 242421 / [email protected] or Louisa Collington on 07411143733 / [email protected] 
  • Out of hours, please contact: 07710 573749
  • Tearfund is a Christian relief and development agency and a member of the Disasters’ Emergency Committee


Martha Collison at BCDO
Martha Collison at BCDO
Martha Collison at BCDO
Martha Collison at BCDO
Malawi, Hunger Steals
Martha Collison at BCDO
Sylvia in Malawi

  • Martha shows off her Rocky Road recipe. copyright Clive Mear/Tearfund
  • Martha Collison carrying out a baking demonstration at Big Church Day Out at Wiston House with children (left to right) Keziah Croucher, 11, Esme Hills, 10, Lukah, 10, and Zion Gisbey, 6. copyright Clive Mear/Tearfund 
  • Martha helps Zion Gisbey, 6, make a Rocky Road mix at the festival in West Sussex. copyright Clive Mear/Tearfund 
  • Esme Hills, 10, and Keziah Croucher, 11, pop corn during a baking demonstration. copyright Clive Mear/Tearfund
  • Martha, 20, who won the Great British Bake Off three years ago, spoons golden syrup into the mixture. copyright Clive Mear/Tearfund 
  • Sylvia Ngondo at home in her village Chirambi, central Malawi. She has just six bags of maize left to last six months feeding her family. copyright Ralph Hodgson/Tearfund
  • A family who have been given farming training through Tearfund’s work in Malawi. copyright Ralph Hodgson/Tearfund

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