FOOT SOL­DIER

Michael Bates has walked 12,000 kilo­me­ters in 23 coun­tries to spread the word of peace. Xing Yi meets the for­mer Bri­tish min­is­ter in Beijing.

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE - Con­tact the writer at xingyi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

off from the walk and we went to Paris,” Li said of the time Bates pro­posed to her. “Un­der the Eif­fel Tower when the New Year bells rang, he knelt down.”

Dur­ing their wed­ding in 2012, they set up Walk for Peace foun­da­tion, and those in­vited to their party came­with do­na­tions for the foun­da­tion rather than per­sonal gifts for the cou­ple.

The next year, they planned a walk from London to Derry in North­ern Ire­land and raised $61,000 for Save the Chil­dren’s work in Syria. In 2014, they also planned one from London to Ber­lin for the FirstWorldWar Cen­te­nary and raised $49,000 for the Ger­man char­ity Peace Vil­lage In­ter­na­tional.

“She goes ahead and plans the way, and stays be­hind and pays the bills,” Bates says of Li.

“For all the walks we do ... ev­ery­thing that we raise goes to the char­ity.”

Their ef­fort was rec­og­nized byUN Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Ban Ki-moon, head of the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee Thomas Bach and Queen El­iz­a­beth II.

Through his words and deeds, Bates wants to en­cour­age young peo­ple to go with their dreams and be­come the change they want to see in the world.

“Peo­ple say that cer­tain things are impossible,” he told an au­di­ence of young peo­ple at a speech dur­ing his re­cent Beijing visit. “But if you re­ally be­lieve in some­thing and you are do­ing it for the right mo­tives, then you can achieve it.”

He says he has had more suc­cess in ad­vanc­ing the Olympic truce through his walks than with his speeches, meet­ings or let­ters as a mem­ber of par­lia­ment.

“The great thing about walk­ing is that I may not be able to do 1,000 miles ev­ery year, but I could do 10 or 100 miles.”

PHO­TOS PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Michael Bates and his wife, Li Xuelin, on their jour­ney in China in 2015. The 1,700-kilo­me­ter walk from Beijing to Hangzhou, Zhe­jiang prov­ince, was to com­mem­o­rate the 70th an­niver­sary of the end of World War II and to high­light the first UK-China Year of Cul­tural Ex­change.

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