Links between Olney, England and Newton, Sierra Leone
John Newton (1725 – 1807) was an Englishman who was “press ganged” into the Royal Navy. He later became captain of a slave ship and certainly worked from, and possibly lived on, Bunce Island, a major slave fort, close to Freetown, Sierra Leone.
He was nearly killed in a bad storm at sea and decided to repent and totally change his life. He became ordained as an evangelical Anglican cleric, serving the town of Olney in Buckinghamshire. He is known for writing the very famous hymn ‘Amazing Grace’…..’which saved a wretch like me’.
Whilst in Olney, he became great friends with the poet, William Cowper (visit the Cowper and Newton Museum, Olney). They became prominent supporters of abolitionism – stopping the African Slave Trade. Working with friends such as politician William Wilberforce, they made a huge contribution towards the passing of the Slave Trade Act 1807 and the abolition of slavery.
In recognition of this, a town just outside of the capital city of Freetown, Sierra Leone, was named after Newton. There have been strong links between the towns of Newton and Olney for many years. Recognising the challenges that are faced by the population of Sierra Leone, one of the poorest countries in the World, the Olney Newton Link is doing as much as possible to work in partnership with and give support to the residents of Newton.
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Read more about John Newton here
A Newly Completed Water Well
It has been wonderful to see photos of the newly completed water well, sent to us by the ONL Committee in Newton.
Mabinty Sesay, Treasurer of the Newton Committee, has confirmed that the well was being used by the local community as well as one of the schools. Completion had been hampered by the continuing rainy season which seemed to have lasted much longer than usual. However, we are so pleased that it’s now up and running – a very valuable resource.