Opening Speaker: Helen Bower-Eashton
Helen is the Director of Communication at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
She was previously Official Spokesperson to the Prime Minister, a role she took on in June 2015 after 4 years working in the Number 10 press office. Prior to joining Number 10, Helen worked for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, as Head of Communication and UK Spokesperson at the UK’s Representation to the EU and before that at the Home Office.
Helen previously worked as a journalist for academic publications and regional newspapers.
Closing Speaker: Ben Freeth MBE
Ben Freeth (MBE) is an internationally recognized Human Right’s activist and philanthropist who has most notably been involved in tackling the ongoing humanitarian and political situation within Zimbabwe.
He was born in Kent, but his family moved to Zimbabwe in 1980 where his father had been employed to set up a military staff training college. Having studied at the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester, Ben moved back to Zimbabwe and began managing a farm and nature reserve at Mount Carmel with his wife, Laura, and father in law Mike Campbell.
In 2001, Ben and his family were given an eviction notice by the Zimbabwean government under Robert Mugabe as part of the controversial land reform programme. Ben and his father in law sued the Zimbabwean government and their story is recorded in the award-winning documentary “Mugabe and the White African”. During the case, both Ben and Mike were abducted and beaten by supporters of Mugabe and in 2009 the Mount Carmel Estate was attacked and the homes of both Ben and Mike were burned down. Since their forced move, Ben and his family have lived in the Zimbabwean capital and Ben has continued to protest the Human rights atrocities in Zimbabwe, giving talks at the Royal Geographic society and being in contact with members of the UK government and Foreign Office in a bid to shed more light on the situation within Zimbabwe.
Since the ousting of Mugabe in 2017, Ben has continued to protest the corrupt and often inhumane actions of President Mnangagwa, including the disputed election result in November 2017. Ben’s long term fight for human rights and justice within Zimbabwe was recognised in 2010 when Ben was made an MBE.