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Clergy family live as refugees to highlight plight of Gazans

01 August 2014

by a staff reporter

alex baker photography

Solidarity: the Ashdown family in their temporary home, St Paul's Community Centre, in Andover

Solidarity: the Ashdown family in their temporary home, St Paul's Community Centre, in Andover

A CLERGY family have spent this week living as refugees in a church centre, in solidarity with the plight of civilians in Gaza.

The Team Rector of Knight's Enham, Andover, the Revd Andrew Ashdown, and his wife, the Revd Victoria Ashdown, who is non-stipendiary Assistant Curate of All Hallows', Whitchurch, have moved into the St Paul's Community Centre, Andover, with their two teenaged children. They are living off handouts from members of the public and their congregation.

They will send the money they have saved from their food bill, with any other donations, to the Gaza Appeal of the charity Embrace the Middle East, of which Mr Ashdown is a trustee.

The Ashdowns moved into the community centre last Sunday, and were planning to stay there for a week. Mr Ashdown said: "Like so many people, we were wondering what on earth we could do in response to the conflict." He described the response as "phenomenal. We've had messages from all over the world, and we have not gone hungry once.

"We know we can't make a huge difference, but it is about being in solidarity with the people of Gaza, and supporting them in prayer."

The couple and their children, aged 19 and 16, are holding morning and evening prayer each day, and have been joined by a Baptist group and a house group. The Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Revd Tim Dakin, has sent a message of support.

Mr Ashdown visited Christian-run clinics and community centres in Gaza last year. He said: "Even when Gaza is not under attack, the situation is desperate."

The family have set up a Facebook page - "In solidarity with Gaza" - to encourage support and donations.

www.facebook.com/groups/ 270701079801339/

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