by Brian Dooley
WENDY Chivers, who walked from Plymouth to London and pushed her three year-old daughter Melanie all the way in a pram, was one of four people who arrived in London from "the four corners of Britain" to present a petition at 10 Downing Street on behalf of Walk for the World last Saturday.
The petition, at the last count, had been signed by about half a million people but "sackfuls are still arriving", according to Meirion Jones, the National Coordinator for Walk for the World.
Mr Jones told the Catholic Herald that although only those four walkers who had walked from the corners (Glasgow, Carlisle, Bangor and Plymouth) presented the petition, about 100,000 more had joined the walk at some stage.
"In all, about a million people have been involved in the campaign at some stage, and because of the timing of the election, around 1,000 candidates have had to discuss these issues at meetings arranged by Walk for the World", he explained.
The petition urged the government to take five steps to improve conditions for the poorest people in the world.
These included an increase in overseas aid, help for the hungry to grow more food, an undertaking to trade fairly with poor countries and to lighten the burden of their debts, and an effort to promote peace in regions of conflict.
On the eve of the presentation of the petition, figures were released which showed that Britain's percentage of Gross National Product spent on overseas aid in 1986 was the lowest ever, (see leading article, page four).
The United KIngdom's percentage had been 0.52 in 1979, more than any of the other seven major industrial nations. Last year's figure had dropped to 0.32 per cent, and the United Kingdom trailed fifth, behind France, Germany, Canada and Italy.
Along with the petition, Walk for the World representatives also handed in letters for the Prime Minister to take with her to the Seven Nations Summit this week in Venice which are to be circulated among the delegations of other countries.
This was the culmination of the two-month Walk for the World campaign, which Meirion Jones described as "a tremendous success".
"Every regional radio station mentioned this, and the only place where we didn't get massive coverage was in London. The issues were raised for the first time in some places, and there were some villages in Wales where the entire population signed the petition. AND THEN THERE WAS PGHT: With the assistance of Sylvania outdoor lighting fittings, historic Aylesford Priory is now bathed in light in the evening. The piazza in front of the priory, a popular place of pilgrimage, has been illuminated to highlight the architectural splendours of the buildings.