Amnesty group reflect on 12 years of fundraising in Ely
- Credit: AMNESTY ELY
The Ely branch of Amnesty International is marking the organisation’s 60th anniversary on May 28.
The international human rights group was set up in 1961 by Peter Benenson, a London lawyer who was appalled to read about two Portuguese students jailed for seven years by their government.
Their crime? They had raised a glass and toasted liberty.
Sixty years later, Amnesty International has 10 million members from more than 150 countries.
It continues to fight for human rights defenders and to shine a light on regimes who flout their citizens’ human rights.
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The organisation is independent of any government, economic interest or religion.
Ely’s Amnesty branch was set up 12 years ago this June by local campaigners.
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They have organised many fundraisers in that time, including five jazz concerts with Ronnie Scott’s artistic director James Pearson.
They also include a folk concert featuring singer songwriter Kerry Devine and legendary guitarist Phil Hare.
They have also hosted a quiz night, an afternoon tea and a seasonal recipe book packed with meals from around the world.
They have brought inspirational speakers to the city for their annual autumn lecture at Ely Cathedral.
Speakers have included the Big Issue founder John Bird, the humanitarian and former hostage Terry Waite, death row survivors Sunny Jacobs and Peter Pringle, and the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Eva Clarke, who was born in a concentration camp.
The group has also organised annual Write for Rights events, winter Amnesty Talks, library exhibitions and film screenings, plus written hundreds of letters and signed many petitions.
Founder member and current secretary Sally MacEachern said: “Since we set up the Ely branch in 2009, we have received magnificent support from the district’s residents.
"We've also received help from Ely's art galleries, artists, authors, local businesses and Ely Cathedral.
“And thanks to that support, our jazz concerts alone have raised nearly £11,000 towards Amnesty International’s vital human rights work.
“As the country opens up, we’re holding a summer fundraiser on August 14 - Rocking for Amnesty - featuring four local bands playing in the garden of Haddenham Arts Centre."