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Magistrate foots bill for reporter's trip to Pakistan

A High Wycombe magistrate has paid for regional press reporter Benedict Moore-Bridger to fly to Pakistan so that he can report on the impact of the October earthquake.

Arif Hussain has taken Benedict, a journalist with The Free Press & Times Group, to Islamabad to help highlight the plight of victims there.

The 40-year-old JP is acting as a guide and will take Benedict to visit families of Buckinghamshire’s Pakistanis during their week-long visit.

  • Benedict (centre) with Arif (right) in Pakistan
  • In High Wycombe alone, there are 16,000 people of Pakistani origin.

    Many families in the county have lost relatives or seen their homes reduced to rubble by the earthquake that struck on October 8.

    Benedict will be sending back regular updates from their travels to be published during the week and will be making his copy available for other Newsquest newspapers.

    His first report was published in the Bucks Free Press Midweek.

    Benedict said: “It has been pretty intense.

    “We have been flying to remote villages. Seeing the devastation first-hand is quite harrowing.”

    Magistrate Arif hopes the trip will raise awareness of the problems still facing the survivors and help him to raise money for the relief effort.

    He said: “You cannot appreciate how terrible it is until you see it. The television does not show you that.”

    He has already raised £40,000 through his registered charity Five Pillars, and hopes to add another £100,000 to build an orphanage near Islamabad.

    Free Press & Times Group editor Steve Cohen said: “This is a unique opportunity to report back on a disaster that has had a profound effect on so many people in Buckinghamshire.

    “We hope our eyewitness reports will help Mr Hussain in his admirable mission to build the orphanage.”