CHARITY fundraisers dressed as characters from the Wizard of Oz may have turned heads last week but there was an emotive story behind their efforts.

Jason Coop led a band of characters from the popular fairytale as they set off from St Paul's Church, in Hammersmith, on March 17 and on a whistle-stop tour of famous capital landmarks.

The 40-year-old, of Brook Green, lost his wife Lorraine to an aggressive form of cancer at the age of 34 on the same day last year.

The pair had just returned from working at the New Hope Centre orphanage, in Swaziland, when they received the devasting news of her diagnosis and Mr Coop used the painful anniversary to raise money for the African project that helps provide education and medicine to poverty-stricken children.

He said: "By the time Lorraine was diagnosed with cancer it was already at an advanced stage and she died six months later. It was a terrible time and real shock to us all. Even the doctors were surprised at just how aggressive it was.

"She left some money in her will to give to the centre and in the past three months I have arranged and overseen the building of a medical facility at NHC that will care for the 50 children and 20 staff.

"I am going back out to Swaziland next month to dedicate and open the centre and will spend my three week holiday working with the children again. She would have been proud of us and would have wanted us to have fun and raise awareness of the cause and it was the perfect way to mark a year since her passing."

The group planned to travel to 75 London landmarks on their fundraising travels to mark the 75th anniversary of the Wizard of Oz but caused such a stir that they only made it to 40 before relaxing with a St Patrick's Day tipple.

"We had to stop so many times for tourists and people to take pictures of us and the theme was apt," said Mr Coop, who packed in an 18-year career in film production to run St Paul's new community cafe.

"The kids in Africa know the film and will learn a lot from seeing the pictures and hearing a brief history of the places that we visited on the day. Also the NHC has a gate in the colours of a giant rainbow so it is indeed 'somewhere over the rainbow'."

To find out more about the NHC visit .