Bees for Development Project Officer Martin Jones will be joining thousands of other runners this autumn to take to the streets for the 2013 Cardiff Half Marathon on Sunday 6 October. Martin was a London 2012 Olympic Torchbearer after being nominated by his fiancée for his charity work - which included running his first half marathon in 2011. 6 October will be his fourth attempt at this distance and third Cardiff Half Marathon.
Not satisfied with simply making it around the 13.1mile course, Martin has pledged to complete the distance dressed in a beekeeper’s suit to raise funds and awareness for Bees for Development (BfD). This Monmouth-based charity works to promote sustainable beekeeping in some of the poorest countries. Beekeeping is a means for vulnerable communities to earn income in an environmentally friendly manner. Size of Wales, the Welsh charity that promotes the conservation of rainforest equal in area to the size of Wales, has pledged to double the value of all donations to Martin’s challenge - up to £2000. This is in recognition of BfD’s important work helping to preserve forest, vital source of the nectar that bees use to make honey.
One of the projects for which Martin is responsible is the Comic Relief funded Ugandan Honey Trade Project which is creating a stable, attractive market for honey and beeswax in the rural community of Kamwenge. In the West of Uganda, bordering DR Congo, BfD works with a small cooperative to enable subsistence farmers, individually producing just a few litres of honey per year, to collectively sell 16 tonnes of honey last year. Martin is currently working with the community in Kamwenge, providing technical advice and ensuring that funds are used for maximum effect. However, he is not letting his training slip and has vowed to keep training in the rugged mountainous equatorial Rwenzori region – training at altitude in the mornings before meetings with beekeepers who have joined the cooperative and benefited from the Comic Relief investment. Each jar of the honey that these farmers produce sells for around £1.50 in the local towns – creating enough income for families to send their children to school or pay for medical care.
“Perhaps running at 1200m altitude and in 30 degree heat might prepare me well for 13.1 miles around Cardiff in a bee-suit. I’m not so sure though!” said Martin. “Either way, I’m delighted to be able to raise funds for BfD that Size of Wales will kindly match-fund. The work that we do has such a positive effect for the lives of vulnerable people. The forests of the developing world are so important for beekeeping – the work we do helps to ensure that local communities earn livings by seeing value in the forests alive, rather than dead as timber or cleared for farmland.”