An Awards night thanks to those who've supported the Trust

An Awards night thanks to those who've supported the Trust
Monday, 25 November 2013 Written by Tina Carr

The Rory Peck Awards is both an occasion to honour freelancers and give thanks to those who support the Trust. This is what I said on 20 November 2013.

The RPT is all about individuals – helping them – and being helped by them.  Organisations have funding or corporate social responsibility policies – but it is finally individuals who – singly or collectively - reach decisions about which charities and causes they want to support.

Some of these individuals are here tonight. For their recognition of the valuable role of freelancers and for their pledges of ongoing financial support for the Rory Peck Trust, we thank the decision-makers at BBC, Channel 4, ITN, NBC News, the Open Society Foundations, the Oak Foundation, Reuters and Sky.  This is core support – and we couldn’t continue without it. And it is real commitment.

Our thanks also to Associated Press who, every year, sponsor the Awards brochure and to all those who advertise. We thank Sony, sponsor of these Awards from the very start, who this year have also set up a Just Giving appeal for the Trust and are matching every £1 donated. This is commitment.

We thank CBS London Bureau who in July ran a marathon and raised a terrific twelve and a half thousand pounds. And they didn’t just run – they hit the phones, they emailed everyone they could think off. This is commitment.

We thank all our donors and especially the family of Richard Beeston, a long-time supporter of the Trust, who have decided to continue supporting the Trust in his name. This is commitment.

And the Rory Peck Trust relies on it.  Thirty journalists—half of them Syrian—have been kidnapped or gone missing in Syria. Of those we know of at least 10 who are freelance foreign reporters.

Zeina KaraM, reporting for AP says: “The widespread seizure of journalists is unprecedented, and has been largely unreported by news organizations in the hope that keeping the kidnappings out of public view may help to negotiate the captives' release”.

Reuters columnist David Rohde writes: “ Syria today is the scene of the single largest wave of kidnappings in modern journalism, more than in Iraq during the 2000s or Lebanon during the 1980s.” Terrible facts.

SO - what of the freelancers? Who negotiates for them? Who sends in security consultants to try and get them out?  Who helps their families?

A year ago, I stood here and talked about a kidnapped freelancer in Syria – Austin Tice. Austin is still missing in Syria, and his family are still counting the days.

So are the family of James Foley, kidnapped the day before last year’s Rory Peck Awards and still missing. And so are the families and friends of 10 other missing freelancers, known to us and to some of you here tonight.

We’re thinking of all these freelancers, of their families, partners and friends.  I wish that some magic satellite could whiz our thoughts and support to wherever they are tonight- so they know they’re not alone.

We’re doing our best to help – but it’s not only Syria – we’ve been struggling to keep up with the cries for help from freelancers in other critical situations …

Because we help individuals like tonight’s finalists..….  and individuals you’ll never see, struggling daily to report  in Azerbaijan, Mexico, Pakistan, the Phillipines, Somalia

Because this year, what we had to give just-wasn’t-enough. And saying ‘no’ to a freelancer in real trouble, who perhaps has no other source of help, can be heart-breaking.

SO please - don’t run away when you see me coming. Answer my calls – and when you get an email from me tomorrow asking for your support – please – Hit the links and donate. I’ll be watching!

And finally, as individuals – and within your organisations - you really can make a difference to someone’s life.

Thank you.

Tina Carr is the Director of the Rory Peck Trust. Follow @TinaCarrRPT on Twitter.

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