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Martyn Evans: I’ve met Brighton bomber Pat Magee

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Cathedral Group creative director Martyn Evans works with long-term offenders in his other life

Two decades ago I was working for Anita Roddick at The Body Shop as head of media relations. We kept in touch and in 2004 she funded a powerful exhibition called The F Word, by journalist Marina Cantacuzino and photographer Brian Moody, which featured extraordinary stories of forgiveness.

Anita was looking for volunteers to help take the project further and suggested I take part, so I became the chair of the trustees of The Forgiveness Project.

I just loved it straight away. The Forgiveness Project uses personal stories to do something positive. It explores how forgiveness, reconciliation and conflict resolution can be used to impact positively on people’s lives, through the personal testimonies of both victims and perpetrators of crime and violence.

We work with long-term offenders in prison to help them understand they can have a life beyond their crimes, and we work with kids in schools to teach them about tolerance. We’ve had stories from Northern Ireland, South Africa and the Middle East. Stories of crime and misery – and the ways people have got through.

As chair of the trustees I was closely involved in the day-to-day operation of the organisation – everything from fundraising and setting policy, to ensuring financial probity and staffing. It’s a difficult subject. It’s not sick animals, or poor children. It’s about raising money to help offenders find a productive life when they leave prison.

Through my work I’ve met Brighton bomber Pat Magee and Jo Berry, whose father was killed by the bomb. Jo went to see Pat when he was in prison and talked to him about why he murdered her father. Now they tour the world talking about their working relationship.

You can’t spend time with Pat and Jo and not imagine your problems are very, very small. In our everyday lives we are quick to fuel conflict and judge people. But big stories have a big impact on small daily behaviour.

My biggest achievement has been to watch the organisation grow – we started from nothing and we’ve now got a turnover of £250,000. We punch way above our weight. Social media such as Twitter has been crucial. We began with a website, but now we can reach so many more people.

I stood down as chair of trustees last year, but I’m still a very active supporter. Working for The Forgiveness Project has taught me wonderful things: tools for life.

  • Martyn Evans is creative director of Cathedral Group
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