From extremely modest beginnings, but with steadfast, dogged determination, Just a Drop, the international water-aid charity, founded on behalf of the international travel and tourism industry 11 years ago, is coming of age.
Speaking to nearly 200 celebrities and supporters at the charity’s glamorous annual reception held at the newly-opened Corinthia Hotel London - the capital’s latest landmark five-star hotel - Fiona Jeffery, founder and chairman of Just a Drop, said the charity’s success was partly due to its many corporate partners.
“Their longer-term commitment has helped us plan our project work effectively on behalf of more than one million people,” Jeffery said.
In the past year alone, she said the charity had committed to 23 projects in 13 countries, transforming the lives of 50,000 children and their families who are desperate for clean water and sanitation.
She talked of children being killed by crocodiles and trampled by elephants as they collect water from muddy rivers, and youngsters dying from polluted water.
But she added the corporate partnerships had proved to be an indispensible central core to the work. They enabled the charity’s trustees to prepare more professionally for the future by reaching out to communities, often in some of the most remote, poverty-stricken regions of the world, where other charities are either unable or unwilling to travel.
Corporate partners include, for example: All Leisure Group, ATD Travel Services, Boultbee Foundation, Beds n Bars, European Tour Operators Association, First Choice, Hayes&Jarvis, Institute of Travel and Tourism, Reed Exhibitions, Thomas Cook, and Thomson.
Jeffery also paid tribute to Corinthia Hotels, who sponsored the reception, and specifically thanked the new property’s general manager, Matthew Dixon, as well as Tony Potter, chief executive officer and managing director of CHI Hotels&Resorts, the exclusive operator and developer for the luxury Corinthia Hotels brand. Potter has been a Just a Drop supporter for many years. “This evening is a significant stepping stone for Just a Drop and also for Corinthia Hotels who has just launched a truly iconic new property, steps away from Trafalgar Square,” she said.
Former supermodel, Marie Helvin, has fronted Just a Drop’s Friends for Life campaign, asking for people to donate just £2 a month (US$3.24), along with children’s television presenter, Seema Pathan, who has participated in the charity’s schools initiative, Splash4kids.
Both campaigns, launched in the past two months, are indicative of new promotions to attract donor commitment.
Newly-commissioned advertisements, starring stage and television actress Joanna Lumley and a new film shot in Kenya of some of the people that Just a Drop is helping are also expected to raise the charity’s profile.
“This year, Just a Drop is undertaking project work in Afghanistan, Ecuador, Guyana, India, Kenya, Mongolia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Philippines, Uganda, and Zambia, and we’ve just started work following the devastating earthquake in Haiti,” added Jeffery.
She paid tribute to the experienced operations and field team of water engineers, led by Just a Drop’s president and explorer, Col. John Blashford-Snell, who give their time and expertise.
Jeffery said the team often traveled by foot, canoe, and jeep through jungle and other hostile terrain to reach remote villages that the world has forgotten.
She said: “This small team is backed by experienced field officers who work in partnership with our community teams on the ground to ensure that the work is executed to a high standard, is on budget, and weather conditions permitting, on time.
“It’s challenging, but the great thing about these officers is that their depth of experience and background means things get done.
“They just don’t understand the word – can’t!”