Nick Hewer: Countdown to Freetown



Countdown host and seasoned

businessman Nick Hewer

is a man on an unusual mission.

It's a bloody Dakar Rally, this is,

with a trailer!

You've sheared the bolt off.

He's driving nearly 5,000 miles

from England to Africa...

Oh, Christ.

..towing a half-tonne circular saw.

What have I forgot?

Did I pack my passport?

Do I have enough wet wipes?

Where most of us pick up credit

cards when we want to give money to


he's doing something more direct.

I'm going to select one person

and make a difference.

Of course I could have sent a cheque!

Nick's giving the saw to a street

kid in Sierra Leone who

he met for just ten

minutes two years ago.

Only involved in one crime.

Nick saw potential in young

carpenter James and wants

to set him up in business,

employing others.

It's better for me to be a person on

my own.

But James doesn't even know

he's coming.

He may run away in terror.

I don't know.

And the war-ravaged country presents

a unique business environment.

In England, this is the way we do it.

Nick doesn't understand

business in Sierra Leone.

I think we've been

taken for a fabulous ride.

The capital city, Freetown...

What are you doing?

Can you believe it?

..can be overwhelming.

It's impossible!

This guy has no brakes on his lorry.

Are you OK, James?

I'm not so OK.

So, will Nick's

way of doing charity work?

That will fall off.

Can Nick and his saw turn

a street kid into a businessman...

Are you in charge? Go. one of the toughest

places on earth?

We brought you a little present.

Incredible. Just crazy!

Nick is starting his adventure

by seeking some advice.

As he heads to work in Freetown,

James has no idea of Nick's plan.

He's been taught some carpentry

skills by a charity,

of which Nick is a patron,

but scrapes by on 1 a day.

Nick hopes to change that.

With departure imminent,

he meets a friend at his club,

ex-High Commissioner

and old Africa hand Peter Longworth.

The thing is, Peter,

you know the story.

I was down in Sierra Leone two years

ago for the charity

Hope and Homes for Children,

making some little films there,

and I met when I was down there

this young kid called James.

We trained him as a carpenter

but he also had his own little

workshop round the back.

I thought, "This is

an entrepreneurial sort of kid."

He said he really wanted to

start his own thing.

So I thought what I'll do is

drive down to Sierra Leone,

but I thought it'd be good, actually,

to drag down a big industrial saw

about the size of this table

and a big generator.

What's going to make Africa rich

isn't so much the minerals,

but it's the sort of entrepreneurial

genius of the people.

These are the people

who are going to create jobs.

And where you're going, Freetown,

they desperately need jobs.

What are you actually visually

going to look like

when you're on the roads?

Some gigantic diabolical

machine on the trailer which will

inevitably look interesting to

the guys on the road.

It's a juicy ten-metre load.

That's what it is.

Are you actually going to get

something of this size

along the roads that you propose to

travel on?

Of course, it all looks

marvellous on a map, doesn't it?

Nick is using his holiday time to

drive nearly 5,000 miles...

..from England down the length

of France, then over to Morocco by

sea and across the sands of Western

Sahara - if conditions permit.

Then, he'll continue south through

Mauritania, tropical Senegal

and the red dust roads of Guinea.

Finally, Sierra Leone

and its capital, Freetown.

I don't know

whether I've done the right thing.

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    "Nick Hewer: Countdown to Freetown" STANDS4 LLC, 2022. Web. 18 Jan. 2022. <>.

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