Norfolk man, 75, cycling 900 miles to help tackle modern slavery

Simon John, from Thetford, will be cycling more than 900 miles from Land’s End to John o’ Groats.

Simon John, from Thetford, will be cycling more than 900 miles from Land’s End to John o’ Groats for Anti-Slavery International. - Credit: Simon John

A 75-year-old Norfolk man is hoping to raise awareness and money by cycling 900 miles to help tackle modern slavery.

Simon John, from Thetford, will set off at around 6am from Land's End on Friday, May 21 with the aim of arriving in John o'Groats 20 days later.

The retired lawyer, who is passionate about campaigning against modern slavery, hopes to raise £10,000 for Anti-Slavery International.

He will cycle more than 900 miles and will be giving more than 120 talks, mainly virtual, about modern slavery to students and community and faith groups in the process.

The journey, which is named the Freedom Ride, will pay homage to abolitionist Thomas Clarkson,  who travelled to towns across the UK, to raise awareness of the suffering that was then taking place in the transatlantic slave trade.


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Mr John, an Amnesty International member, said the ride is also to raise awareness of the "exponential" rise in modern slavery, with an estimated 200,000 people in the UK living in modern slavery.

He said: "I began developing an interest in this seven years ago - it's just grown as has the problem.

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 “I feel great outrage and sadness that millions upon millions of my brothers and sisters around the world are being held in abject misery.

"Many people don’t understand that slavery didn’t end in the 19th century, but is still pervasive today.

"What turns the knife in my side is that we all benefit from it, in one form we enjoy slightly cheaper goods, from businesses that profit from exploiting workers."

The global secretary of the Rotary Action Group Against Slavery said it is one of the "most curable" human rights abuses as people have the power to individually change it, by using apps such as Giki and Stop The Traffik to source ethical information.

Mr John, who has been cycling for Anti-Slavery International since 2018, said he trained a "fair bit" to take on the Freedom Ride, adding: "Whether I'm up to it or not, we will discover."

The Anti-Slavery Society, established by Clarkson in 1839, continues to tackle slavery today, as Anti-Slavery International.

To donate to Mr John's cause visit justgiving.com/fundraising/freedomride2021

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