Couple ask for foodbank donations instead of wedding gifts
Published on 20 January, 2017
A kind hearted couple encouraged their guests to make donations to a foodbank instead of giving them wedding presents.
Emma and Richard Thompson, who got married at St Machar’s Cathedral in Aberdeen, decided they wanted to give something back to their local community to mark their happy day.
They were inspired to act after listening to a sermon by their minister, Rev Barry Dunsmore, who told the Bible story of the Rich Man and Lazarus from the Gospel of Luke.
Mr Dunsmore, who married the couple at St Machar’s Cathedral earlier this month, described their selfless actions as “a wonderful gesture” which he hoped would inspire others.
He said couples he has married in the past have asked for a financial contribution to be made to charity but this was the first time that guests had turned up to a wedding at the 12th century Cathedral with carrier bags stuffed full of essential items.
The “presents” - tinned goods, toiletries and dry foods - were donated to a charity in Aberdeen called Instant Neighbour, which assists people who often have to make a choice between paying the bills and putting food on the table.
Mrs Thompson, 32, who now regularly attends St Machar’s Cathedral with her husband, said: "We are not a showy couple so we shunned the usual gifts because we do not like asking for things.
“We therefore decided to ask guests, if they felt comfortable, to bring a food donation.
“The feedback we got from our friends and family was positive – everyone thought it was a good idea.
“I think the nature of weddings can almost be excessive and we just wanted to give something back where we could.
“People all over Scotland are losing their jobs and being forced to turn to foodbanks to survive, which is just heart breaking.
“We have so much and took the view that if we all just give a little bit extra, people can eat.”
Mrs Thompson of Fyvie in Aberdeenshire said she and her 37-year-old husband, who works as a service engineer in the oil industry,shared the minister’s view that St Machar's Cathedral is not just a building.
“During one service Mr Dunsmore spoke of Lazarus and how the rich man had everything, and whilst maybe not a bad man, did nothing to help the case of Lazarus.
“Whilst digesting that, I thought of the cost of our wedding and it felt wrong.
“St Machar’s is more than a building but a community and why not help part of that community.
“It seems to me, upon reflection, that a wedding and marriage is more than the two people but the whole community getting behind a family.”
Mrs Thompson, who is studying history through the Open University, said their wedding favours were Royal Air Force badges, which entailed the couple giving a donation to the RAF’s Wings Appeal. Mr Thompson used to work as an engineer at RAF Lossiemouth in Moray.
Reflecting on the couple’s kindness, Mr Dunsmore said: “It was a wonderful gesture which I am sure will inspire others to do the same.
“Emma and Richard have been attending the Cathedral regularly since requesting their wedding.
“They said they starting hearing about some of the charities we were supporting and wanted to help.
“The food bank issue throughout the country has such a high profile at the moment, I was not surprised at the response of the congregation.
“I have had weddings where the couple ask guests to give a financial donation to a specific charity but this is the first time the request has been for food.”
Church congregations across Scotland run foodbanks and community food projects where diners pay what they can afford.