Amnesty group reflect on 12 years of fundraising in Ely

Amnesty at Ely Pride 2019

Amnesty at Ely Pride 2019 - Credit: AMNESTY ELY

The Ely branch of Amnesty International is marking the organisation’s 60th anniversary on May 28.

Perico Rodriguez and the Jupp family at Ely Cathedral in October 2014

Perico Rodriguez and the Jupp family at Ely Cathedral in October 2014 - Credit: AMNESTY ELY

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.

Sunny Jacobs Peter Pringle Death Row Lecture 2013

In October 2013, married couple Sunny Jacobs and Peter Pringle spoke to an audience at Ely Cathedral about their experiences of escaping Death Row. - Credit: Warren Gunn

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. 

Handmade Haddenham in July 2015

Handmade Haddenham in July 2015 - Credit: AMNESTY ELY

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.

John Yates cuts 50th cake in 2011

John Yates cuts 50th cake in 2011 - Credit: AMNESTY ELY

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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.

Protect the Human

Protect the Human - Credit: AMNESTY ELY

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.

Amnesty jazz concert in 2015

Amnesty jazz concert in 2015 - Credit: AMNESTY ELY

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.

Amesty Ely bookstall in September 2013

Amesty Ely bookstall in September 2013 - Credit: AMNESTY ELY

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.

Amnesty Ely city recipe book team - Activism Award Winners

Amnesty Ely city recipe book team - Activism Award Winners - Credit: AMNESTY ELY

"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.

Amnesty Ely Write for Rights, November 2015 

Amnesty Ely Write for Rights, November 2015 - Credit: AMNESTY ELY

“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."

Amnesty jazz concert in 2016

Amnesty jazz concert in 2016AMNESTY ELY - Credit: AMNESTY ELY

Amnesty Ely group cage

Amnesty Ely group cage - Credit: AMNESTY ELY