Web fuss storm in jam jar - nanna

By Peter de Graaf

A Far North grandmother at the centre of an internet sensation says she can't understand the worldwide fuss about her charity jam making.

What started as a simple post on the Northern Advocate's Facebook page on Wednesday, reporting that Waipapa pensioner Gloria Crawford had made her 10,000th jar of jam for hospice, quickly went viral.

The 71-year-old has been making jams, pickles and sauces for Hospice Mid-Northland for the past seven years, but in 2009 health authorities put a stop to her fundraising efforts because her goodies were not made in a dedicated commercial kitchen.

She refused to pack away her jam-making pots and, after a long battle, won the right to carry on.

The "jam scandal" even reached Parliament, which promised to review the nation's "archaic" food safety regulations.

Wednesday's Facebook post had soon been shared around New Zealand, then spread overseas where it has been read by tens of thousands of people from the UK to Poland, Denmark and the US.

As of 5pm yesterday the post had been seen by more than 90,000 people worldwide. It had been shared 543 times, attracting 539 comments and 9886 "likes". Most of the comments praised Mrs Crawford's community spirit; some criticised food safety regulations and their effect on charities.

To support Mrs Crawford's supporters and her cause, the Northern Advocate decided to auction off a jar of her famous plum jam on Trade Me with proceeds to go to Hospice Mid-Northland. As of late yesterday, the auction had received more than 40 views.

Mrs Crawford told the Advocate yesterday, as she was dropping off a fresh batch of goodies at Kerikeri's hospice shop, that she couldn't believe the fuss over something as simple as an old lady making jam. "If I'd won a gold medal at the Olympics I'd understand it, but doing something simple like this ... it doesn't seem worthy of all the attention."

Mrs Crawford and her husband Ian did not have a computer at home or use Facebook, but had been alerted to the internet sensation by hospice and younger relatives.

"My granddaughter from Turangi rang up, saying, 'Nanna, you're famous'. She was so thrilled she was just about jumping down the telephone."

However, she was finding the attention slightly embarrassing.

"It's not my thing. I don't do it for the accolades, I do it because I like doing it. Giving something gives me a bigger buzz than someone saying I'm marvellous."

She believed the story had resonated with people because it was about old-fashioned values of helping one's community, and because heart-warming news appealed to people bombarded by stories of greed or hatred.

They might also have liked reading about an individual triumphing over bureaucracy.

"If I think I'm in the right, my heels go in. It was the principle. The law was depriving a lot of people, like schools, Scouts and community groups."

To bid for some of Mrs Crawford's famous jam, search for listing number 531772781 on www.Trade Me.co.nz The auction ends next Friday.

- Northern Advocate

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