Our timeline


Formation of the BBC


First full religious service broadcast from St Martin’s


Dick Sheppard incorporated a Christmas appeal at the end of his Christmas broadcast


Dick Sheppard and Pat McCormick

The St Martin’s Christmas Appeal can be traced back to December 1920, when Rev. Dick Sheppard would informally ask the congregation at the end of the December service to donate money for those less fortunate, this informal appeal continued privately until 1925. It was then that Dick Sheppard began incorporating the Christmas Appeal into the December broadcast. Throughout the 1920’s Dick’s health began to decline and he was forced to retire from St Martin’s, his replacement was his long-time friend Rev. Pat McCormick.

First formal Christmas Appeal broadcast (as documented in the Radio Times)

Appeal Total £3,500


The Holiday Fund and Christmas Appeal

The Central Advisory Appeals Committee felt that broadcasting two appeals from St Martin’s (i.e. The Holiday Fund and Christmas Appeal) could be seen as slightly excessive


Dick Sheppard dies

After several years of ill health the Rev. H.R.L. Sheppard passed away on 31st October 1937 at the age of 57. His funeral was held at St Paul’s Cathedral and drew huge crowds. As per his wishes he was buried in the cloisters at Canterbury Cathedral.


Questions raised surrounding the future of the Christmas Appeal with the introduction of the Welfare State

What becomes of my contribution to the Christmas Fund? (St Martin’s Review)

“You may wonder how much longer St Martin’s Christmas Fund will be needed, if the Government’ proposals in regard to social security are carried into effect. This is an important question, affecting not only the future of the Christmas Fund, but the whole trend of our welfare work.”

1941 December – St Martin’s Review

“Just to avoid confusion – the broadcast appeal has nothing to do with the maintenance needs of St Martin’s. We are not allowed to broadcast for ourselves. The Christmas Appeal is, as most of you know, so that we may help to make Christmas happier for people less fortunate than ourselves. No, our bread and butter needs are something quite different”

Revd Eric Loveday Appeal Total £8,005 10 0


Revd Charles Edwards Appeal Total £14,841 4 0


April 1961 St Martin’s Review

“The annual Appeal for St Martin’s Christmas Fund, like World Refugee Year, and the recent newspaper campaign for Congo Relief, which bought in £100,000 in a matter of days, proves that our affluent society is full of people positively waiting to give, if the need is put before them vividly” – Daphne Rands, April 1961 St Martin’s Review

Revd Austen Williams Appeal Total £33,558 0 0


In 1971 the appeal raised £27,315

Throughout the 1970’s the Christmas Appeal continued to raise ever increasing amounts of money. In 1971 the appeal raised £27,315, this increased to £71,679 by 1980 and many attributed the appeals success during this decade to the hugely popular Rev. Austen Williams. Austen Williams was by all accounts a natural broadcaster and it was under his guidance and direction that the Christmas Appeal grew into a national and global appeal loved by many.


In 1980 The Appeal Raised £71,679


60th Anniversary of the first Religious Broadcast

1984 saw both the 60th Anniversary of the first Religious Broadcast and the retirement of the much loved Austen Williams. Upon his retirement many came forward to share their memories of Austen including Ronald Farrow of the B.B.C. who said:
“Because of his modesty he makes the process of broadcasting seem so easy. As a broadcaster Austen has that rare and most precious gift of instinctively holding together, as one congregation, those present in the church and the vast unseen worldwide congregation. Through him St Martin’s became a church for the world and Austen a greatly loved pastor to the congregation”


Revd Geoffrey Brown £164,202 0 0


Revd Nicholas Holtam Appeal Total £216,109 0 0


The appeal first raised over a million pounds


Aasmah Mir presents first Appeal


‘I See You’ – Official Song of BBC Radio Christmas Appeal 2015

Revd Dr Sam Wells makes the 89th Christmas Appeal

Miles Jupp on the BBC Radio 4 Christmas Appeal 2015

Christmas Appeal raises £2,500,050


90th Christmas Appeal

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