All Saints and St Andrew’s Church, UK: parachuting teddy bears

Exhibited by
August 20, 2013
Medium of Communication
Target Audience
Type of Charity
Religion related
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance
July, 2013

SOFII’s view

Is this the world’s first teddy bear parachute jump? A charming and happy event that could be easily copied by small, even medium or large, charities. The amount raised was a great boost for the much-needed church funds but in addition, SOFII thinks, it must have given the villagers a feeling of pride in their beautiful and historic church and the wish to preserve it for future generations.

Creator / originator

Rev Alexandra Clarke and the Parochial Church Council of St Andrew’s Church, Kingston, Cambridgshire, UK.

Summary / objectives

To raise awareness of a village church and its needs by attracting children to a fun event.


All Saints and St Andrew’s church in the tiny Cambridgeshire village of Kingston is everything you could wish for in a beautiful country church – and more. Not only does it exude tranquillity and holiness from its idyllic village setting, but it is covered with many fascinating medieval wall paintings.

However, with the passing of an older generation, in recent years the church’s financial health is far from good and the small congregation cannot meet the costs. Attracting the newer, younger families into the life of the church and keeping up the fundraising efforts are crucial challenges for the survival of this precious church.

On the hottest Saturday in July 2013, the local parish council had planned a village tea party in the orchard just yards from the church. The church community had also earmarked that date for its traditional ‘gift day’*, so plans were launched to work in tandem. Some church members felt a more engaging event was required to appeal to the younger residents and the idea arose of opening up the church tower to allow the public to climb to the top to enjoy the panoramic views and, while there, to take part in a teddy bear parachuting event. Not something that a lot of people have done.

As the heat rose in the orchard, more and more people found welcome respite in the cool church. The considerable health and safety risk assessment on the tower climbing was well worth it as many people managed the spiral stone stair case and then two vertical metal ladders to emerge through a small door on the top of the tower. The climb up the scary ladders was worth it to enjoy unique views of the village and surrounding countryside.

Down below children happily made and decorated parachutes for their teddies (and other cuddly toys) from a simple DIY kit provided by the vicar, the Reverend Alexandra Clarke. At the end of the afternoon many of the residents gathered in the churchyard to watch the parachuting descent of each teddy, whose name and owner’s name was announced before launching. Each teddy received a personalised certificate to commemorate its jump and everyone had great fun, especially those parishioners who are not normally part of the congregation. No charge was made to climb the tower or the parachutes, but donations were encouraged as part of the traditional gift day.  

Special characteristics

Fun in the silly season.

Influence / impact

Unmeasurable, but must have reached at least 90 per cent of the target of the villagers.


Minimal – some cards and a bin liner or two.


The final total (plus Gift Aid) from the generous gifts was a staggering £3,600.


Well it’s a good example of putting the fun into fundraising.

Other relevant information

A happy coincidence of weather and other social events in the village contributed greatly to the success of the day.The basic idea was not only very appealing, but also very easy and cost almost nothing to provide. Elsewhere, such an event could be combined with a church cream tea, or a larger event such as a flower festival.

The name Gladly on the certificate shown was chosen by a child who had misunderstood the words of the first line of the hymn Gladly the Cross I’d Bear

No teddies were killed or injured during the making of this event, though one did get stuck in a tree for a short while.

*A gift day is a when the vicar sits in the church all day to meet residents who wish to call in and leave their financial gift.