On 19 June SPUC members held an all-day silent vigil outside the offices of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). The ASA is considering allowing abortion providers to advertise on television and radio. Sponsorship for the vigil will go towards SPUC's campaign against the ASA's proposal.
Pete and Anne Fearon of SPUC Merseyside led the vigil (see Anne's report of the day below). They have been married for 25 years and have six children, including two sets of twins. Anne says: "Bringing up children these days is hard enough without the abortion industry targeting our sons and daughters and sending out the message that casual sex and abortion are perfectly okay. That's why I'm strongly in favour of SPUC's policy of reaching out to young people in their schools and I'm hoping the money that will be raised from the sponsored vigil will help them expand this vital service.
"The whole family feel very strongly that allowing abortion to be advertised on TV will have a harmful effect on society in general and will lead to more unborn babies being destroyed and more women and girls suffering the after effects of abortion.
"We will do all that we can to support SPUC's campaign to stop abortion adverts invading our homes.
"We have supported SPUC for longer than we care to remember but I started going to Crosby branch meetings about 17 years ago. After a few years I found myself branch secretary and began attending Merseyside regional meetings and then SPUC's National Council meetings (the Society's governing body). I am also chairman of Merseyside region.
"Pete is a science teacher. He was head of science for many years in a large Catholic school in Liverpool before retiring last year and now does supply teaching.
"James and Catherine have just turned sixteen and are the youngest of our six children. They completed their GCSE exams a couple of days before the sponsored event. As you can imagine, things have been a bit tense in our household at the moment with all that last minute cramming!
"As a family we always try to support SPUC's fundraising in any way we can and this particular event was very important to us. Last year my daughter, Siobhan, took part in SPUC's sponsored skydive parachute event."
A high resolution photograph of Anne, Pete, Catherine and James Fearon can be viewed and dowloaded here
Anne Fearon's report of the sponsored vigil
"The Fearon family (half of them anyway!) travelled down to London the day before the event to ensure that everything was in place to start the vigil promptly at 9 o'clock on Friday morning. As we are not too familiar with the geography of London, we took some time on Thursday evening to find the location and get our bearings. The offices of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) are inside a large, modern office complex on High Holborn, central London.
"While walking to the vigil on the Friday morning I was contacted by Premier radio, a London radio station, and I had a short interview which was broadcast throughout the day on their news bulletin. I told them that SPUC members from all over the country are anxious to have their voice heard and that we do not want adverts for abortion services on TV and radio. We feel that this would only lead to more abortions, and there are already around 200,000 every year. I said that women deserve better than abortion and that whilst abortion providers would have plenty of money to pay for advertising, the pro-life groups would not be able to afford to advertise the alternatives to abortion.
"Having done the interview we began our vigil. Various SPUC members came and went throughout the day but at all times we maintained a presence of at least seven or eight people. Michael Hill, from Rotherham, a member of SPUC's executive committee, was there all day, as was Gordon Kane, SPUC's fundraising manager. We were joined by volunteers from the London area and from Oxfordshire as well as staff from SPUC HQ, including SPUC's leader, John Smeaton. We were very pleased to see everyone.
"I was greatly encouraged by the many, many requests from supporters to attend the vigil. Unfortunately, not everyone who wanted to come along could do so as the police have to set a limit on the number of people attending events such as these. However, I would like to say thank you to everyone who offered to join the vigil - I felt that you were all with us in spirit!
"Just after lunchtime Paul Tully, SPUC's general secretary, and I went in side the building to ask if we could present SPUC's submission to the public consultation. As we didn't have an appointment, we were told that we would have to wait outside and somebody from the ASA office would come down to see us. Sometime later a lady appeared. She accepted our submission, thanked us for it and also thanked us for keeping the protest peaceful and orderly.
"Apart for a short break for lunch (16 year olds need feeding quite often!) we stood at the offices all day. We gave out leaflets to those who stopped to talk to us. Some passers by were slightly hostile and made the usual comments and gestures, but many more people were very supportive. Some thanked us for being there and wished us success.
"By making this campaign our sponsored event for this year we hope to raise much needed funds to carry on our work, but more than that, we hope and pray that our efforts will be successful in preventing abortion providers from being able to advertise on television and radio."
Click on the captions below the thumbnails for high-resolution JPEG versions of the photographs of the vigil:
The Fearon family are joined in the morning by Katherine Hampton, SPUC's education officer for the south of England.
Anne Fearon with Paul Tully as he arrives to hand in SPUC's submission to the ASA.
SPUC's submission is received by a representative of the Advertising Standards Authority.
End of our vigil, 5pm Friday. l-r : James Fearon, Peter Fearon, John Smeaton, Gordon Kane, Patrick Goldsmith, Anne Fearon, Lydia Goldsmith (Thame, Oxon.), Michael Hill (Rotherham), Catherine Fearon, Johanna Kavanagh (London).