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Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

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Martin Bell returns to BBC for special programme on life-saving work of Manchester-based charity MAG

Former BBC war correspondent Martin Bell comes out of retirement to present a one-off documentary on the life-saving work of a Manchester-based charity which was passionately supported by Diana, Princess of Wales.

Inside Out North West takes a look inside the work of MAG (Mines Advisory Group) as it celebrates its 20th anniversary and sees how far the charity has come from a caravan in Cockermouth to its crucial work across the world.

Over the last two decades MAG has cleared millions of mines and unexploded ordnance, helping communities across the globe to reclaim their land and rebuild their lives.

Originally starting out as a two-man team of brothers, Rae and Lou McGrath, it now has 3,500 personnel worldwide.

They are currently active in 17 countries but have, over the last 20 years, worked in 352.

The iconic images in 1997 of Diana, Princess of Wales touring through the Angolan minefields in helmet and flak jacket were shown worldwide and demonstrated her ardent support of MAG and other landmine charities.

Later that year MAG was honoured with the Nobel Peace Prize for the role it played in persuading governments to sign the treaty to ban anti-personnel mines.

MAG works in places like Angola, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Gaza but the operations are controlled from the charity's four-storey headquarters in the heart of Manchester city centre – one of only a few international charities with its base outside London.

Martin Bell, patron of MAG, says: "Over 40 years I have visited 18 war zones and seen for myself the issues that so motivated Diana, Princess of Wales, that's why I too am a passionate supporter of MAG and impressed by how far it has come since the early days.

"There's still much to be done to realise Diana's dream of a world without landmines. But MAG's life-saving work is making a daily difference to people's lives.

"We have all of MAG to thank for that, this is truly something for Manchester to be proud of."

Martin Bell's film can be seen on Inside Out on BBC One North West on Monday 2 November 2009 at 7.30pm, or outside the North West of England on digital satellite.

It can also be viewed on BBC iPlayer at bbc.co.uk/iplayer.

JC4

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