People

OBE for the Sale man who travels the world fighting modern slavery and exploitation

By Barbara Metcalfe at

When Chris Harrop left the comfort of his Sale home to travel to the North Pole two years ago while fighting leukaemia, he wasn’t doing for it for honours or awards.

Back then in 2016  the most important message for him was the future of the planet as he travelled to raise awareness of the impact of climate change on the polar regions.

Back in his day job Chris, 51, from Atkinson Road in Sale, is a group marketing director and director of sustainability for Marshalls PLC,  where he works tirelessly for the prevention of modern slavery and exploitation.

Chris continues to travel the world to ensure child slavery becomes a thing of the past

And it is for that work he has received an OBE in the New Year’s Honours announced this weekend.

He started working at Marshalls in 2002, but it was in 2005 that he started the company’s drive to eliminate child labour and bonded labour – where labour is demanded to pay off a debt –  in countries like India, China and Vietnam.

And although he is still being treated for leukaemia he continues to visit the company’s quarries around the world to ensure they continue to meet the agreed standards.

 Chris said of his award: “Despite this being a huge personal privilege for me, it is sad that slavery remains a scourge on humanity almost twenty years into the 21st century. Even in the UK, there are an estimated 136,000 people trapped in slavery today. One is too many, wherever they are.”

Chris and Joanne celebrating their eldest daughter’s wedding last year

He and his wife Joanne have two daughters Bethan, 24, and Madeline, 21. Joanne  said:”We are so very proud that Chris’s efforts to influence changes in business practice have been recognised. It all really began 13 years ago when Chris first visited quarries in India and saw children making blocks, barefoot and dusty. His mission started in the quarries but he now works with others to help businesses across the country and the world to promote ethical trading.

“Chris is now on his third life saving targeted therapy. A tablet a day does not keep the doctor away but it does keep the levels of leukaemia low enough to only be seen once every three months.”

For most people his anti-slavery and climate change work would be enough, but Chris wants to help those who helped him when he was diagnosed and throughout his treatment. He now supports Leukaemia Care, who, says Joanne,  were there for them from the beginning.

He also holds several non-executive roles at global and UK organisations focused on corporate ethics and sustainability including his role as a director of the Ethical Trading Initiative and Made in Britain..

And here’s the video made during his time at the North Pole.