Christmas concert fundraiser to improve maternal healthcare in world’s poorest countries

Celia Burton, a retired TV producer from Halesowen, is holding a Christmas Carol Concert on Wednesday 5th December 2012 in Birmingham.

She’s aranged the concert to raise vital funds for international development charity VSO and help them send volunteers to tackle poverty in some of the world’s poorest countries.

Alice Waterman teaches midwifery student Elizabeth Conteh at the Masuba School of Midwifery; MakeniTickets are still available to attend the concert at Birmingham Cathedral, Colmore Row, from 8 -10pm, and visitors will hear readings from the BBC’s Nick Owen and stories from local people who have volunteered with VSO at different periods over the past 40 years.

Celia has just returned from a trip to Tunisia where she first went as a VSO teacher in 1966 helping to roll out free education for girls alongside boys.

She said:  “Back then, sometimes I wondered if the challenges were too great – but 40 years on the change is extraordinary.  Now the birth rate is the same as in the UK, with more girls than boys at university and there is a higher percentage of women in parliament than we have at Westminster.”

Celia hopes to raise at least £1,500 on the night to help transform the lives of thousands more people, particularly women and girls, who are most affected by poverty. Each year, 350,000 women die while pregnant or during childbirth and the majority of these deaths occur in low income countries which need more support improving healthcare.

Celia said:  “There are many people from Birmingham and the West Midlands who have volunteered with VSO over the years and worked on a whole range of issues from giving medical treatment to mums and babies to training teachers and community workers.  Although the countries and projects we’ve worked on were very different, all of us have seen first-hand how women and girls are most affected by poverty and comprise the majority of the world’s poor. I’ve seen how effective it is to give women education, and skills.  This is why it’s so important to raise enough money to send more volunteers to developing countries where their help is needed.  In addition to this, visitors will enjoy a fantastic night of music and entertainment.”

Alice Waterman teaches midwifery student Elizabeth Conteh at the Masuba School of Midwifery; MakeniVSO fights poverty through volunteers by sending skilled professionals to share their knowledge and experience with their counterparts in poor countries, helping to build their skills and create lasting change.

VSO works in 33 countries including Ethiopia, Bangladesh and Rwanda. In the last year (2011 – 2012) it reached over 15 million people living in poverty through improved services in health, HIV & AIDS, education and secure livelihoods.

Emily Lomax, VSO UK’s Head of Volunteering, said: “Volunteers are the life blood of VSO’s work. Without volunteers like Celia, who kindly donate their time and share their skills and expertise, we simply would not be able to fight poverty and make a lasting difference to people’s lives in developing countries. I hope local people will get behind her fundraising efforts and help support our work in the world’s poorest countries.”

During the event, in addition to hearing from volunteers, visitors can sing along to traditional carols with the Enchant choir and enjoy special musical performances from Boil Up Tropical Steel Band.

For more information and to buy tickets for the concert priced at £8 for adults and £4 for children email: or visit the events page on VSO’s website: