All posts by KFord

Free Nazanin: Supporting Hunger Striker Richard Radcliffe

An article by Kathy Goodchild

I spent last Thursday in a way I had never done before – sitting on a very small stool outside the Iranian embassy in London, helping make posters in aid of hunger striker, Richard Ratcliffe.

So who is Richard Ratcliffe? Most of you will know, but, for those who don’t, Richard is the husband of Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian national, imprisoned in Iran on charges of spying, demonstrably false, but given credence by the former British Foreign Secretary who erroneously claimed that she was in Iran to ‘train journalists’.

Nazanin had travelled to Iran with her two year old daughter Gabriella in 2016 simply to visit her parents. Since then she has been held in prison, a considerable portion of it in solitary confinement, and subjected to psychological torture and harassment, not to mention being deprived of necessary medical investigations. When, last Saturday, Richard received a phone call from her saying that she was beginning another hunger strike (she would drink water), he decided to act in solidarity with her, something he had voluntarily promised her after the last time she attempted such a drastic measure.

So what is the aim of Richard’s brave and desperate action? Principally to force Nazanin’s case back into the headlines and challenge the Iranian authorities, as well as the British, who appear to have done remarkably little over the last three years to aid their citizens imprisoned in Iran (there are several, mostly of British-Iranian dual nationality).

The Iranians were certainly needled; at the beginning of the week they erected huge corrugated barriers in front of their own embassy doorway, then claimed that Richard was blocking their entrance! (In fact, they shot themselves in the foot with this tactic, as the barriers made a terrific ‘notice board’ for the posters, and for the hundreds of brightly coloured ‘post-its’ bearing messages of support for Richard and Nazanin.) Building work was apparently necessary too when Richard first arrived on the scene; railings had to be subjected to the ministrations of an electric sander…at least when Richard was being interviewed.

As for the British government: well, when I was there, the focus was on making and displaying eye catching posters giving messages to the individual candidates for our new PM. Did any of these hopefuls turn up, either then or subsequently? A resounding ‘no’ as far as I’m aware. But a considerable number of MPs did come, and have continued to come, and they are of course the ones who are deeply interested and concerned.

There are many ways to help Richard and Nazanin, even if you can’t get to the embassy pavement. You can connect with them in a personal way, by sending messages of support to Richard at ‘The Tent outside the Iranian Embassy, London’. These will most certainly get there, and even if the strike has ended by the time your card is in the post, it’s a safe bet that they will be delivered to his address in Hampstead.

In a more formal way, it really does help to contact your MP, raising your concerns about this family, and it’s also a good idea to write to The Iranian Ambassador, The Iranian Embassy, 16, Princes Gate, London, SW7 1PT. Furthermore, If you haven’t already done so, please sign the petition at

All these actions, although small in themselves, contribute to what needs to be a relentless and unstoppable campaign to free Nazanin. Once she is freed, then the hope has to be that the other British citizens imprisoned in Iran have a better chance of freedom, not to mention the Iranian political prisoners, the human rights campaigners and lawyers, some of whom are languishing under draconian sentences.

Kathy Goodchild


Additional information about Richard and Nazanin’s plight can be found on Twitter and Facebook.

Image credit: Free Nazanin Campaign

Send in the Clowns: Thursday 11th July, 7.15pm

An evening of theatre, comedy, poetry, music and stories…. “30 laughs or your money back!”

For 30 years, David Robinson has toured around the world with productions including ‘The Screwtape Letters’, ‘The Hiding Place’ and ‘The Cross and the Switchblade’. After 22 years with Saltmine he co-founded Searchlight and has pioneered the use of professional theatre in churches. Adrian Plass has written over 40 books, and he and Bridget have performed in every kind of venue you can imagine and some you probably can’t!

Over the years, tens of thousands of people have enjoyed David and Adrian at Spring Harvest, The Keswick Convention, Greenbelt and on their hilarious joint tours. Together with West End singer Amanda Watsham-Dunstall, they have created an evening of theatre, comedy, poetry, music and stories.

Thursday 11th July, 7.15pm

Redbourn Village Hall

Tickets: £10 available from the Post Office, Enchanted Tea Rooms and Ashtons, or book tickets online via Searchlight Theatre Company

Cash bar

Can you help us choose our Charity of the Year for 2020?

Every year St Mary’s Church supports a ‘Charity of the Year’ – through fundraising, (for the last 4 years we have raised over £10,000 per year for our chosen charities), as well as practical support and volunteering, prayer and raising awareness of each cause amongst the church and local community.

We are now looking for an international charity to support in 2020 and would love to hear your suggestions.

We follow a three-year cycle of supporting an international, then national then local charity.  In 2016 our local charity was Riding for the Disabled at Gaddesden Place, in 2017 we supported Open Doors and their work in the Middle East, in 2018 the national charity Dementia UK and in 2019 the local charity YouthTalk St Albans, so we are looking for an international charity to support in 2020 – ie. their work must be overseas, though they can be a UK registered charity.

If you would like to suggest a charity to add to the list for consideration please send us an e-mail with a brief description of what they do.  The final decision will be made by the Charities committee at their next meeting, so please send us suggestions no later than 23rd June.