“I am the eldest of 7 children, our parents being Pat and Marion Ashe, who along with others from St Mary's Church, Leamington Spa were the inspiration behind Project Vietnam Orphans (which would later become Cord). In seeking to help the children desperately in need in Vietnam in the mid-1960s, their seed thought had been "let's not be put off by the millions, let's try and rescue one."

My parent’s lives, their strong Christian faith and their love for the refugee, the marginalised, and the orphan have had a great impact on my life, and helped to steer me on my life's journey. Dad himself became a refugee when as a young boy, his family had to flee from Turkey to Malta, and my mother's parents were expelled from Egypt during the Suez crisis in 1956, with just 2 suitcases, having lived there for 38 years!

My overriding memory of the start of PVO was the importance of prayer. If they felt confident of God's guidance, then they trusted that the Lord would provide the necessary means. Dad was not one to be put off easily. He wrote to big organisations, but their advice was "Don't try - it's not a job for amateurs". So we prayed and tried to make every decision prayerfully. Money started to come in, homes were offered and nurses volunteered.

I have vivid memories of the airlift. I went to Saigon as a nurse in March 1975. Within weeks of arriving thousands of displaced people were pouring into Saigon with the fighting getting nearer every day. The embassy told us all non-essential personnel had to leave. What were we to do as we had five babies in our care? I remember our team bible reading that morning was from Exodus 14 "Stand still and see the salvation of our Lord." The answer came the next day when the war correspondent for the Daily Mail newspaper knocked on our door, announcing the airlift plane!

On the plane there were 99 children from various organisations. I remember little hammocks for the babies. A team of volunteers who had flown out from England, laden with donated clothes and milk. Everyone helped to care for children, whether they were a nurse, volunteer or reporter. A doctor on board said that 16 of the babies would have died within 2 days if they had not received immediate treatment.

I feel immensely privileged to have been brought up by my amazing parents, and to have seen and been part of, what they along with so many others achieved. They passed on to me their love for those fleeing conflicts and I subsequently went on to work in refugee camps along the Thai Cambodian border. I have seen first - hand what starting out 'trying to help one child' has meant to so many families around the World.”

Lois Boullier, July 2017

The world is a different place to the one 50 years ago and we recognise that ‘desperate times call for desperate measures’. Those vulnerable orphaned children, caught up in a brutal conflict, needed support from PVO but, whilst we perhaps would do things differently today, fifty years on we still see children caught up in fighting in Iraq and Syria, and children forced out of their countries and surviving alone in refugee camps.

Cord continues to support the vulnerable and the marginalised looking to reduce poverty by reducing all forms of violence. The essence of love and compassion for ‘the one’ – the clear motivation for Pat and Marion Ashe – remains at the heart of our work today.