Mark made MBE after 20-year modern slavery battle

Mark Little (centre) has been made a Member of the Order of the British Empire

Mark Little (centre) has been made a Member of the Order of the British Empire - Credit: Mark Little

A man who has tirelessly fought against modern slavery for the past two decades has been made a Member of the Order of the British Empire in the New Year's Honours list.

Mark Little, who lives in Caistor St Edmund, began his battle against the organised crime in 2001 after watching a documentary on modern slavery. 

Within four months he had travelled to India to help victims of those being trafficked, and said what he found there has motivated his "every thought and action" since. 

Mark Little volunteering on one of his many visits to India

Mark Little volunteering on one of his many visits to India - Credit: Mark Little

Since 2001 Mark has made trips to other countries including Thailand and Nepal, raising thousands of pounds which he has put straight into the hands of organisations which need it most. 

He explained: "I have two aims with my work. The first is to raise awareness. So many people think slavery was abolished, but 40 million people are currently estimated to be in modern slavery and one in four are children. 

"In the space of a conversation hundreds of people will be hoodwinked into slavery - or sold by their parents. But many believe it has been abolished.

Mark has travelled around the world for his work

Mark has travelled around the world for his work - Credit: Mark Little

"That makes it a very difficult crime to trace so awareness is key. 

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"The second thing is real action. Raising money is brilliant but I want to go and see it having an effect and I want to put my time and effort in as well. 

"We raised money for a coach to transport victims to safe houses, we went to a brothel in Mumbai and handed out Christmas presents and toiletries. I've built toilets for tsunami-struck villages and vaccinated children against polio."

A plaque at a library Mark and supporters at the Rotary helped to fund and build

A plaque at a library Mark and supporters at the Rotary helped to fund and build - Credit: Mark Little

Mr Little, from Norwich St Edmund Rotary Club, said he was "shocked" to receive news of the award.

The grandfather said: "It was entirely unexpected - it was such a shock, though a wonderful shock of course. 

"This has just pushed me on to keep working and to keep pushing this crime up the agenda and get more people to become aware of it. 

"I think that will be my next challenge. Rotary International has worked to eradicate polio and it will succeed.

"When we do I need to convince the organisation that modern slavery is a a major issue we need to be turning our attention to."