Olympic legend visits Parliament

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ONE of Britain’s greatest ever sportsmen has visited Parliament to showcase his bid to break another world record.

Mark Menzies, MP for Fylde, met with Fairtrade ambassador and five-time Olympic gold medallist, Sir Steve Redgrave, in Parliament last week as the rower unveiled a plan to break the record for the world’s longest bunting.

The world record attempt is to mark this year’s Fairtrade Fortnight and to highlight the Fairtrade Foundation’s “Great Cotton Stitch-Up” campaign – a drive to end unfair European cotton subsidies. 

West African cotton producers are some of the poorest farmers on the planet and yet, last year, had to compete with EU farmers who received over £600m in subsidies – the equivalent to Estonia’s entire EU contribution.

The record for the world’s longest bunting is currently 2,986 metres and Sir Steve and his fellow Fairtrade campaigners are aiming to reach at least 4,350 metres – over two and a half miles.

The final bunting will be displayed on World Fairtrade Day, 14 May.

Mr Menzies said: “It is wrong that West African farmers, who earn less than $1 a day, cannot use their farming skills to trade their way out of poverty.

“From the amount of Fairtrade goods in our local shops and from Fylde Council’s support for Fairtrade, we know full well that trade justice is something residents really care about.

“Behind this campaign and record attempt is a serious message to end unfair European cotton subsidies and to make trade fair. 

“That’s why I am supporting this bid, so we can help some poorest cotton farmers in the world make a decent living from their work.”

Mr Menzies may also now look to table some parliamentary questions on the cotton trade.

Sir Steve Redgrave, who owns a Fairtrade cotton clothing company, said: “I am delighted that Mark is backing Fairtrade’s campaign. 

“I have visited West African cotton farmers in Mali and I have seen how hard it is make a living from cotton already. 

“Farmers there are not asking for a handout, just a level playing field so they can improve their families and communities through hard work.

“Working together we can end these subsidies and make their live just a little bit easier.”

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