In 1989, Christian based charities Tearfund and the Oasis Trust created the Christmas Cracker initiative. Led by Richard Wood, the idea was to create a national project where young people would help raise awareness of issues in the developing world. Originally the project involved setting up cafés for Christmas but in 1991, the initiative encouraged the creation of temporary Radio Cracker stations.
At the time Katie Thomas was about to step down from her role as a youth leader at St Matthew’s Church in Rugby. Having heard about Radio Cracker at the 1991 Spring Harvest Conference, a young person encouraged Katie to create one for Rugby. Despite a lack of technical knowledge, Katie jumped at the challenge as she felt, ‘it’s what God wanted me to do’.
She teamed up with local leaders including David Lunn to make the project happen and did many promotional events from street parties to riding around Rugby on a Rickshaw!
December 1991 saw Radio Cracker broadcasting from 90 locations across the country. In Rugby, Cracker was based at St Matthew’s Church with shows being presented by 90 young people throughout Christmas. Recalling the event Katie said, ‘Hearing Radio Cracker being broadcast for the first time was very exciting and very emotional.’
Year one raised £10,000 for projects in the developing world and became a great template for years to come.