Good Shepherd tradition brings best out of our children

Nugent’s annual Good Shepherd appeal is special not only because it is one of the country’s oldest charity appeals but also because it sees children and young people helping one another.

‘God searches for the lost. He searches until the end, like the shepherd who goes out into the darkness, searching, until he finds the sheep … Finding the lost sheep is a joy to God, because he has a “loving weakness” for those who are lost.’ – Pope Francis

Sadly, there are children and young people living in our communities who are in some ways lost. They live without the basics that many take for granted: there may be no food in the house, no clean clothes, no toys. It could be a family living hand to mouth, struggling to pay the rent; a homeless mother and child fleeing domestic abuse; or perhaps a young person who gets passed around the care system.

Across the last 139 years Nugent has been at the forefront of campaigning for and supporting children and young people living in poverty, in crisis or just struggling with life, helping to restore their sense of dignity and purpose. It is one of the major charities in the northwest, offering a diverse range of support through schools, care homes, community and adoption services, and working with the most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities.

One of Nugent’s longest-established, and finest, traditions is its Good Shepherd appeal, traditionally focused on schools. With its origins in Victorian Britain it is one of the oldest charity appeals in the country, dating back more than 110 years. It is built on the idea of children helping children, and has helped so many families struggling to support themselves in difficult times.

The Good Shepherd appeal was an initiative of the then Bishop Thomas Whiteside who was Bishop of Liverpool from 1894 to 1911 and then the first Archbishop of Liverpool until his death in 1921. He wanted to ‘enlist for the homeless little ones of his diocese the sympathies not alone of the grown-up people but even of the little children, both those of the well-to-do and those of the poor, but self-supporting, working people.’

It seems fitting to recall that the founder of this appeal should have been originally buried in Ford Cemetery, close to where Nugent’s founder, Monsignor James Nugent lies; after all they are two great pioneers of the work that the charity continues today.

Down the decades, schoolchildren from this Archdiocese have continued to support Nugent through the Good Shepherd appeal, raising millions of pounds and helping thousands of youngsters by taking part. Today over £50,000 is raised each year on average.

Pupils at participating schools are encouraged to use their imagination – just as Lottie and Hope (pictured) from Christ the King primary school, Wavertree did with their Easter bonnet parade last year to support the appeal.

Recently the Nugent team began researching the Archdiocesan archives for old Catholic Pictorial articles highlighting different ways in which schools across Merseyside have supported the appeal in the past – from jumble sales to fancy dress to simply bringing in pocket money.

One photo (see right) which caught their attention in particular was from 1976 and it featured a group of young people with Archbishop Derek Worlock outside the Metropolitan Cathedral following a Good Shepherd Mass.  As it turned out, one of those young people is Marie Reynolds – the charity’s Caritas Manager – and she is circled with her friend Anne Casey. Marie has been working at Nugent for over 30 years, and originally headed the fundraising team and therefore led the Good Shepherd appeal. She remains a close friend of Anne, a parishioner of St Oswald and St Sebastian in Old Swan, who is a lifelong supporter of Nugent and runs a Faith in Action youth group which raised funds for the charity last year.

Marie said: ‘We were both at Notre Dame Everton Valley and were representing our school at the Mass. I have lots of happy memories of fundraising for the Good Shepherd appeal and it’s great to be still part of it. Seeing the impact the appeal has on local people and the difference the donations continue to make is remarkable.’

If any Pic readers were at that 1976 Good Shepherd Mass and appear in the photo, or if you simply raised funds for the appeal at your school, Nugent would love to hear from you. Contact them via email ( or through social media (search for ‘wearenugent’ on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter). The hashtag for Good Shepherd appeal activities is #NugentGS and donations can be made online, via PayPal or by calling 0151 261 2000. Funds raised will help provide families with essentials such as a bed, a cooker, basic kitchen items and bedding, along with clothes and pyjamas for the children.

Good Shepherd Masses
This year’s Good Shepherd Masses at which the children will be invited to present their fundraising donations will be celebrated by Bishop Tom Williams and will take place on the following dates:
Wednesday 24 June at St Mary's Church, Leyland at 10.45am
Tuesday 30 June at the Metropolitan Cathedral at 1pm