Brother of murdered aid worker David Haines launches school poetry competition

By Douglas Barrie, PA Scotland

A charity set up by the brother of a UK aid worker who was beheaded by terrorists has launched a poetry competition for school children to discuss unity.

Global Acts of Unity was set up by Mike Haines after the death of his brother David in September 2014.

The 44-year-old, from Perth in Scotland, was killed after being captured in Syria while working in a displaced persons camp.

David, a father-of-two, was working for an aid agency when he was captured in March 2013 before being killed on camera.

His brother Mike set up the charity to promote peace and tolerance in schools across the country.

It is now running a competition for school pupils aged 11-18 to share in their own words what “unity” means to them.

On the charity’s website, Mr Haines says: “I’ve been inspired by many young people on my journey but I want to hear from many more.

“That’s why we have created Words of Unity to invite students age 11-18, as the leaders of tomorrow, to add their powerful and unique voices to this call for unity, acceptance and understanding.

“I want to hear from students about what unity means to them.”

The winner of the competition will receive £100 of vouchers and £500 of supplies for their school community.

Entries can be “haikus to spoken word performances and from limericks to raps”, with a 400-word written or two-minute audio/video limit.

The deadline for the competition is February 28.

David Haines was murdered by Islamic State terrorists (Danny Lawson/PA)

Mr Haines, who now lives in Dundee and was made an OBE for his work in 2018, also told the Daily Record: “Young people have been tremendous.

“I visit schools to talk about what happened to our family and I am always amazed at the perceptive things the children say.

“When I visit schools, I tell them about what happened to us, I tell a story of two brothers and show slides of family photos.

“Then I tell them how David was kidnapped, about how I had to tell our mum and dad that he was taken. There is a growing horror as the pupils are told what happened when he was murdered.

“At first, the kids think what is this old guy going to tell us? But I think they got a lot from it. There is a real rejection of hatred. Hatred is a choice and the children really seem to respond to that.

“I have been moved to tears by the things that the pupils say to me. They have been amazing.”