Famous faces turn up as Oxfam archive catalogued at Bodleian Library

Positive: Annie Lennox in Malawi

Soaked: Colin Firth

DJ: Gemma Cairney with Tinie Tempah's trainers

First published in News The Oxford Times: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Didcot and Wallingford. Call me on 01865 425425

STAFF cataloguing 10,000 boxes of Oxfam’s archive are looking forward to uncovering the famous faces who have supported the charity over seven decades.

Last week, the Cowley-based charity announced it has donated its entire archive to Oxford’s Bodleian Library so that it can be catalogued and made freely available online.

Archivists starting work on the four-year project, supported by a £360,000 grant from the Wellcome Trust, have already dug out images of campaign supporters including Rolling Stone Mick Jagger, actress Julie Christie and The Beatles.

Now they look forward to finding other well-known faces among the thousands of photos and documents.

Among the best-known images are stunning shots from 2005 of Radiohead’s Thom Yorke caked in chocolate, actor Colin Firth covered in coffee and REM singer Michael Stipe splattered in milk.

The photos were taken by Greg Williams in support of Oxfam’s Make Trade Fair campaign, which highlighted the practice of farmers “dumping” subsidised goods in poor countries, undercutting their markets.

Oxfam spokesman Georgia Best said: “We work closely with celebrities because they are very good at reaching out to the public and getting our messages across.

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“We will often take celebrities to different trouble spots so that they can see our work programmes for themselves and engage with them.

“The Harry Potter actress Bonnie Wright went out to Senegal last year in support of our East Africa food crisis appeal and Bill Nighy went to Malawi around World Aids Day to see our work for people with the HIV virus.

“We have a really good ongoing relationship with our ambassadors including Bill Nighy, Annie Lennox and Helen Mirren who work for us in the long-term.

“But there are also other celebrities who agree to help us from time to time.

“In January, Radio 1 DJ Gemma Cairney organised a celebrity jumble sale in London which featured singer Tinie Tempah’s trainers.”

Other celebrities who have supported the cause over the years include Oxford-born model Yasmin Le Bon, who visited the Broad Street shop in 1992 and 2008.

Sex in the City star Kristin Davis was among familiar faces starring at Oxfam’s Eight Stories High reading event at the Oxford Playhouse in Beaumont Street last year.

And Oxford author Philip Pullman, who wrote the bestselling His Dark Materials trilogy, agreed to be a volunteer at the St Giles bookshop in 2009 as part of the charity’s Bookfest event.

Chrissie Webb, Oxfam archivist from 1994 to 2009, said going through the files would be fascinating.

“Famous names will keep cropping up all the time,” she said.

“There was a message of support from Mother Teresa in the 1970s with the launch of a campaign against poverty.”

To make a donation visit oxfam.org.uk

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