, British Union Conference
Where would you look for a Seventh-day Adventist if you visited Ballymoney in Northern Ireland on a typical Friday?
They might be hard to find because there are only two of them in this town of only 9,000 people about 50 miles (80 kilometers) from the capital, Belfast.
But David and Irene Dickie were easy to spot on a recent Friday when they invaded the town center with a heavy white bathtub on wheels.
In five hours, the married couple had pushed the bathtub filled with British Heart Foundation balloons around the town center twice and in the process raised more than £1,100 ($1,650) for a cause close to their own hearts.
Joining them for the day, I have to admit that I was a bit dubious about this strange idea. The wind was frigid when two of David's work colleagues dropped us off, along with the bath, close to the center of town.
There was not much fanfare. We simply set about pumping up balloons. It was difficult to keep them all from blowing away before we could hand them out.
At 10 a.m., Mayor Bill Kennedy arrived to set us off. Kennedy is a major supporter of charities, having made the news himself three months ago when he canceled the mayor’s Christmas lunch and donated the money budgeted for the event to a local food bank.
As a journalist took some photos we started our journey, pushing the bath into High Street.
A local politician, Ian Stevenson, soon offered to push the tub. Cars patiently slowed down behind him as the rest of us followed, wielding red buckets at bemused passers-by.
Billy Dickie, David’s brother, took over the helm behind the bath after a while. Billy joked that he still had not learned to say no to his brother.
The reality is quite different. Billy and David both have personal reasons for supporting this charity. A few years ago both of the brothers experienced heart attacks within nine months of each other. The medical care that they received saved their lives.
"We are both keen to give back to the organizations that provide support for those who suffer heart disease," David said.
David has established a tradition of raising funds for the British Heart Foundation. Last year he ran a successful reception in the local Presbyterian church hall. His efforts were recognized at an annual reward ceremony conducted by the British Heart Foundation in 2014. His next fundraiser will be a variety music concert starring some of Ballymoney's favorite performers on April 16.
"People are already asking about where they can buy tickets," he said.
It was not all hard work pushing the bath through town. Halfway through the exercise, the bath was parked on the side of the road and we took turns warming up in Anne's Bakery, a cafe inside the local Pet and Country store. The cafe staff laid out some scones and tea in support of the fundraising effort.
David Clydesdale, long-time friend and Adventist church member from the Banbridge area, stationed himself at an intersection in town. Bobby Davis, another supporter of the cause, did the same on the other side of town. Here, car after car stopped, wound down their windows, and emptied the change in their pockets. People could be seen walking all over town with red British Heart Foundation stickers or balloons. Some people donated twice.
The success of the day lived on via Facebook and Twitter. Photos circulated, and the results were posted.
"At last count, the day brought in £1,100,” Irene Dickie said. “But some pledges were made that still needs to be added to the count of the day.”
Irene and David both agreed that Feb. 27 was a day of leave from work that was very well spent.
Personally, I was impressed by how well known David and Irene are in Ballymoney. The chances are that if you stopped in Ballymoney on any Friday and asked for the couple by name, or even asked for a Seventh-day Adventist, it would not be long before somebody could point you to David and Irene’s home.