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Support RPT's Summer Fundraisers

Support RPT's Summer Fundraisers

Friends of RPT will be biking, running, swimming and hiking this Summer to raise money for our work.

In the first of two blogs highlighting their efforts, former BBC journalist Jeff Cox tells us why he's hiking along the cliff tops of south west England. And in the U.S., John Clarke is Triathalon training...

Hi Jeff, tell us about your fundraising challenge?

Over the next 12 months, I will be walking  the South West Coast Path, the UK's longest National Trail. I'll be covering 630 miles in total  from Minehead in West Somerset (the place of my birth) around the coastline of the south-west peninsula through Devon and Cornwall, to Poole Harbour in Dorset. I plan to do it in five or six chunks.

Why are you doing this?

I’ve spent the past 25 years working for BBC Foreign News; it’s been the most amazing experience, being given a front row seat to so many world events. But from my first overseas deployment — in 1991, to southeast Turkey and northern Iraq in aftermath of the first Gulf War — there has been one recurring theme: freelancers.

No matter how well resourced you may be as a broadcaster, you can achieve little without the knowledge, commitment and bravery of local freelancers — cameramen and women, translators, fixers, and drivers who all enable us do the work that we do on the ground. I wanted to mark my leaving the BBC by doing my small part to support these incredible people.

Inevitably, local freelancers go unrecognised in newsrooms around the world, but for those reporting teams who travel the world, they are vital, hugely valued, irreplaceable. And in my experience, they very often add to the fun and the flavour of reporting trips.

What connection do you have with RPT?

Well, to start with, I remember meeting Rory Peck, in the BBC newsroom, before one of his assignments with BBC News when he was with Frontline News (with Peter Jouvenal and Vaughan Smith). I remember a tall man, upright, with almost a military bearing. And I was working on the BBC’s foreign desk on the day in 1993 when he was killed in Moscow. And how, from this point, the broadcast industry started to take more seriously the whole issue of the safety of reporting teams in high risk environments.

The Rory Peck Trust was set up soon after by Rory's family and friends to support freelancers and their families. Its their 20th anniversary this year and I wanted to do something to support the work that they do. They are still the only organisation dedicated to the safety and welfare of freelance journalists all over the world.

How much are you hoping to raise?

My initial target is to raise £3,000. But I’d be delighted to increase this target, if the support comes in. I’m hoping that those I’ve worked with over the years — whether on location, in BBC newsrooms and programmes, or those now with other broadcasters — will share my desire to give something back to those who make our reporting possible and more powerful.
Have you done anything like this before?

In 2007, I trekked to Everest Base Camp, raising money for the British Heart Foundation. That experience again was only possible with the indefatigable support of local people, the sherpas, porters, and cooks. Once again I was reliant on the expertise of local professionals, just as I was reliant on freelancers as a journalist.

Jeff begins his walk on Monday 22nd June. You can support him, and our work, by donating via Jeff's Justgiving page.

And in the United States, John Clarke is in training for TWO triathalons in Maryland. First up is the Diamond in the Rough triathalon on 11 July. The following month he'll be doing it all again at Fort Ritchie on 2 August.

John, a former Senior Editor at Reuters, is looking to raise $1,500 for the Rory Peck Trust and Committee to Protect Journalists. You can find out more, and donate, via John's Go Fund Me page.


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