Annual Shanghai United Foundation charity event supported by British Consul General John Edwards

By Zorikto Gomboin Source:Global Times Published: 2017/5/16 17:53:39

E.G.G Walkathon, a charity hiking event aimed at creating equal opportunities and providing nourishment for children from poor migrant families, started in Shanghai in 2011 as a charity challenge. "If I walk 50 kilometers, would you donate one egg every day for children in poverty stricken areas?"

The focus of the event has since been expanded into education, social integration and safety. This year, the British Consulate General in Shanghai decided to participate while also raising the stakes. John Edwards, British Consul General in Shanghai, recently delivered on his New Year's promise by leading his team on a 50-kilometer walk ... in a chicken costume!

Although, there were some other costumed participants present, none were as intriguing as Edwards', handmade by his team. Edwards, a senior UK diplomat with almost 20 years of service, attracted numerous selfie-seeking attendees, most of them clueless about the identity behind the beak.

The British consulate team, called GREAT Eggsfactor, chose as their motto "GREAT Eggspectations." Indeed, their expectations were met after raising 43,263 yuan ($6,278), or 216 percent of the 20,000 yuan initial target, for Shanghai-based charity Stepping Stones.

Mere minutes before the official start of the event, the Global Times spoke with GREAT Eggsfactor's team leader himself, John Edwards, about the purpose of the event and their thoughts about charities in Shanghai.

Participants of the E.G.G Walkathon

GT: Where did you get the idea of participating in this Walkathon?

This is the year of chicken, and the E.G.G Walk is a big charity event in China, so we wanted to combine these two chicken-themed events, which could be fun and enjoyable while also raising money for charity. There is a longstanding British tradition to dress up and run marathons. Our team is raising money for a charity called Stepping Stones, which helps migrant children in China improve their education and general welfare.

GT: There are some people who might think wearing a chicken costume is inappropriate for a high-ranking diplomat.

A lot of people have an idea that a consul general's role is limited to negotiating with diplomats and rich people. But actually, I think that the most important part of my job is to bring people together. This event is bringing in many different people all across China to raise money for a bigger ideal. There are about 5,000 people today united in raising money for a great cause. In the end, I think that increasing mutual understanding between different people, for example Chinese and British, is much more important than all the political or economic work that we do.

GT: Is it similar to "coming down from an ivory tower?"

I don't have an ivory tower and I don't think of myself as coming down from one. I always thought that it is important for diplomats who live in China to get involved in Chinese life. And this event, the biggest charity event in Shanghai, really helps that. It is fun, it is great, it is for a bigger cause, so why not participate? I think even more people should be here.

GT: Do you have other charity events planned in the future? What do you think about diplomacy development in Shanghai?

We have a charity committee at the consulate, we run charity events throughout the year and make donations. In general, people are becoming more engaged in charity events. There was a time when diplomacy was very traditional and characterized as "high diplomacy." Those diplomats were disengaged from the general public of the country they had been sent to, and spoke only with local politicians and government officials on political, economic and investment issues. However, there is a growing trend of prioritizing public diplomacy, talking to people and trying to bring people together. We are only a handful of diplomats, and we understand that the ties between China and the UK are so much more than just our work. We do our best bringing people together and creating a positive environment for these ties to prosper.

The article was written by Zorikto Gomboin

Participant of the E.G.G Walkathon


Participants of the E.G.G Walkathon


Participants of the E.G.G Walkathon


John Edwards, British Consul General in Shanghai, leads his team on the 50-kilometer walk in a chicken costume. Photos: Courtesy of the event organizers

Newspaper headline: Walkathon!


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