A businessman is taking a full throttle fight to childhood obesity by embarking on a 12,000 mile motorbike trip across Europe and Africa to raise awareness of the importance of fruit and vegetables.
With a roar of his Triumph Explorer bike, Max MacGillivray, of Beyton, will take to the open road for the four month journey, dubbed the ‘The Great Fruit Adventure - Africa’, from London to Cape Town.
The 48-year-old will be joined by dairy specialist Gareth Jones, from Wales, and they will visit up to 40 farms as they travel through Spain, Morocco, Senegal, Ghana, Ethiopa, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa.
The pair will chronicle their epic adventure online to excite and raise awareness among children and families about where fruit and vegetables come from.
Max, who runs Redfox Executive Selection - a recruitment business in the fresh produce sector, in Fornham St Genevieve, came up with the inspiring campaign in response to statistics showing six out of 10 UK children are clueless about the origins of the fruit and veg they eat.
“I’m getting more and more concerned about childhood obesity,” Max said. “We’ve done quite a lot of recruitment work in Africa with businesses that bring fresh produce into the UK, We thought if we do something fairly wild and crazy we could get kids to follow us, get them educated and to eat fresh produce.”
Already he has visited five schools to boost children’s interest and plans to visit another 15 in the East and South East region before they set off.
“When you turn up at school with a motorbike and a great fun presentation, you can just see they’re thrilled by what we’re looking to do,” Max said.
The trip has attracted a mass following with its website scoring 250,000 hits and 100,000 likes for its Facebook page. Industry leaders have offered their backing following sponsorship from Pink Lady Apples and Triumph Motorcycles as well as support from the Waitrose and Fairtrade Foundations.
The pair aim to raise funds for charities - Fairtrade, African wildlife trust Tusk and Marshal Papworth which helps students from developing countries develop farming skills.
They will set off on Tuesday, November 8 from London’s New Spitalfields Market.
Along the way they will stop off and document the work of key citrus growers in Spain, the largest grower of sweetcorn in Senegal, growers of flowers in Ethiopa and Mozambique as well as exotic vegetable and coffee growers in Kenya and Tanzania.
They will also film a video at Blue Skies, in Ghana, which supplies Sainsbury’s and Waitrose with prepared fruit products and employs 4,000 people.
A Thanksgiving service has been set up for them in Cape Town in February to bring their adventure to a climax.
When they return, they will visit schools and colleges to tell their story and spread their message.
Max said: “I’m nervously excited about it all now. The amount of assistance and help we’re getting especially from contacts in Africa has been amazing. I want to tell the story of the fantastic places where our fruit and veg is grown and the people who grow it to help young people understand that it doesn’t just magically appear on the supermarket shelves. It’s going to be an epic and challenging journey. I’ve ridden motorbikes on farms in the UK and Australia but not on such an extensive trip, which is one of the great challenges.”