A West Suffolk businessman has completed an ‘inspiring and challenging’ motorbike adventure across Europe and Africa to raise awareness of the importance of fruit and vegetables.
Max MacGillivray, of Beyton, spent three months travelling more than 18,000km across 18 countries from London to Cape Town in the ‘Great Fruit Adventure - Africa’.
Joined by dairy specialist Gareth Jones on their trusty Triumph bikes, they visited 48 food producers and chronicled their exploits online.
Their mission was to raise awareness among children and their families about the origins of fresh produce to help beat childhood obesity.
They made trips to schools to promote their cause.
Mr MacGillivray, 48, said: “The experience was challenging and inspiring. We met some amazing people growing amazing fresh produce. Africa is inspirational.”
On the best moments of the trip, he said: “We met and presented to over 5,000 hugely enthusiastic children throughout the trip about the journey.
“South Africa was also a special highlight due to the scenery and quality of fresh produce we saw.
“When we were in one table grape vineyard, a great grower stated ‘Max - I grow sunshine’ whilst we were surrounded by the most beautiful table grape that was about to be picked to be exported to the UK.
“We have looked to use this great phrase ever since.”
They finished their trip on February 1 at business PPECB (Perishable Products Export Control Board), which is South Africa’s official export certification agency for the perishable produce industry.
Mr MacGillivray runs Redfox Executive Selection - a recruitment business in the fresh produce sector, in Fornham St Genevieve.
Asked what he learnt from the experience, he said: “Africa is full of pioneers who are all looking to make a difference by ‘planting farms’ to grow the most fantastic fresh produce for us all to enjoy.
“The hospitality and friendship that greeted us every day from the man at the petrol pump in Ghana to a lady offering to clean our bikes in Zambia for nothing just so she could talk with us was heart-warming.
“Such positive encounters happened every day through Africa and we had no negative experiences on the road.”
During their journey, they received 250,000 hits on their website (thegreatfruitadventure.com), 105,000 likes on Facebook and 500 schools actively following them online in the UK and Europe.
They now want to publish child friendly educational books about the origins of fresh produce as well as an online offering for teachers.
They want to visit schools in the UK and help people in Africa, who have been affected by urbanisation, become more interested in farming and growing.
Summing up his overall message, Mr MacGillivray said: “We all grow sunshine. With the significant issues of childhood and family obesity and the ever increasing diabetic rates, the best solution to counter sugary drinks and sugary food is fantastic fresh produce grown in the sun.
“The UK government wishes to reduce kids sugar intake by 20 per cent in the short term.
“We believe that by showing the whole story of where amazing fresh produce comes from, getting kids to taste and enjoy it and knowing how it is all grown, they will be more excited about consuming fresh produce than the likes of diabetic inducing energy drinks.”