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.
Read more in ‘About’ on the menu bar.
Read more about John Newton here
Teaching Sierra Leone to love Rugby!
Whilst visiting his girlfriend who was working in Sierra Leone, Calum was introduced to a group of lads, keen to learn about Rugby. Having taught them the basics, he was able to bring kit from Northampton and set them up to play as teams on Lumley Beach – one of the main beaches in Freetown. The training was a huge success, massively enjoyed and valued by all. For Calum it was a big education – very different to everyday life in the UK. The team outfits were treasured by teams that had never had ‘team colours’ and new outfits before. Full contact sport was definitely not shied away from – having survived so much hardship from Ebola, War and poverty, men are not scared of a bump! And the excitement and enthusiasm that he encountered has made Calum realise just how special a country it is – we totally agree! Enjoy his photos of this beautiful country and the fun that was had on Lumley Beach.