Monaco: Lotus set to propel POD charity into the spotlight
Grand Prix to promote peace
Featuring on the front wing of the Lotus Formula One car at the Monaco Grand Prix, amidst the car, deodorant and fuel advertising, is an emerging charity that is campaigning to have one day each year set aside for peace. So what does it hope to achieve from the high profile exposure?
Peace One Day was founded in 1999 by British documentary filmmaker and actor Jeremy Gilley, who conceived the idea of a single day when all countries vowed not to wage war; a worldwide ceasefire and a day of non-violence.
"There was no starting point for peace, no day of global cooperation that said we are in this together," Gilley told The Riviera Times.
By 2001, he had managed to convince the United Nations General Assembly to adopt a resolution, formally establishing the UN International Peace Day, fixed in the global calendar for 21st September. But the first ever POD was to be overshadowed by the unthinkable - terror attacks in the United States.
Nonetheless, within five years, Jeremy and the POD group began to see real progress. In 2006, the World Food Programme delivered 30 tonnes of food to Southern Sudan, while immunisations could be carried out in nine countries. The next year, the charity targeted Afghanistan, and a ceasefire enabled polio vaccinations to be given to 1.4 million children.
With ambassador Jude Law at his side, Gilley travelled to Afghanistan to film the documentary The Day After Peace, and since then 4.5 million children in areas of conflict have been able to receive the polio immunisation.
According to Gilley, having the kind of corporate sponsorship that Lotus is providing, and the global exposure and awareness at the Grand Prix, is "incredible".
"I've been a Formula One fan all my life, I watched it religiously with my mother, it was an important part of my summer. Never would I have thought that this would happen, it's everything that POD stands for," says Gilley.
Sport is often used as a gateway to peace, and POD is utilising every sporting opportunity available this year, including the ultimate event - the London Olympics.
It will proudly take part in the "biggest festival the UK has ever seen" on 21st June. Incidentally, it also marks the three month countdown to Peace One Day 2012.
So what does Gilley hope to achieve from the exposure at the Monaco Grand Prix?
"To reach anyone who wants to invest in POD, obviously that would be a great bonus. Otherwise it's really all about awareness. Join our membership on peaceoneday.org, become part of our team, follow us on Twitter, and watch this space because over the next few months, there's a lot going on."