August 8, 2022

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A former army captain who admitted to having ‘prejudices’ against the Traveller community was stunned...

A former army captain who admitted to having ‘prejudices’ against the Traveller community was stunned to discover he had gypsy heritage while filming a new documentary. 
Adventurer Ed Stafford spent 60 days with Romani gypsies and Irish travellers across the UK for a new Channel 4 documentary, admitting he initially considered the  community ‘unlawful’ and intimidating. 
While filming Ed encountered verbal threats, witnessed aggression towards the police, had a stranger defaecate on his windscreen and, saw children using catapults to kill squirrels for dinner. 
However after being embraced by the community, he ultimately felt he had misjudged the group and says he felt a ‘great sense of pride’ after discovering his Romani gypsy heritage. 
Ed, 46, who lives in Leicestershire, said during the documentary: ‘I was naive. All I knew about gypsies was negative or hearsay. 
‘Like a lot of people, I had prejudices, but it is so difficult to live as a nomadic person in the UK.’

Adventurer Ed Stafford (pictured during the documentary) spent 60 days with Romani gypsies and Irish travellers across the UK for a new Channel 4 documentary, admitting he initially considered the community ‘unlawful’ and intimidating

In the documentary, explorer Ed, who holds the Guiness World Record for being the first man to ever to walk the length of the Amazon River, spends time with Romani gypsies and Irish travellers across the UK

The first man to walk the Amazon: Who is Ed Stafford? 

Perhaps best known to fans of the Discovery Channel, Ed Stafford is a British explorer and the first human to ever walk the length of the Amazon river.
Stafford completed the achievement in 2010, earning him a spot in the Guinness Book of Records.
His journey was documented in the 2011 Channel 5 series Walking the Amazon.
Since then, Stafford, who was previously a Sandhurst trained Army officer, has continued his adventuring, including a 60-day survival show documenting his life marooned on an uninhabited tropical island without food or equipment.
Outside of adventuring, Ed, who is  originally from Peterborough, is a father-of-three and is married to fellow explorer Laura Bingham.

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The discovery was made after he visited the Appleby Horse Fair in Cumbria – one of the biggest events in the traveller calendar.
During the annual fair, which attracts around 10,000 gypsies and travellers and 30,000 visitors, Ed meets a woman Sherrie, who decides to Google him and finds out his name is Lovell – a common gypsy name.
‘Welcome to the family,’ she declares, leaving Ed stunned. The father-of-three, who is adopted and went to boarding school, then decided to look into his past.
In the upcoming show, previewed by the Mirror, he says: ‘The production team found an ancestry gypsy lady to dig into my history and find out where there was any truth in this.  
‘She came in and quite theatrically gave me my family tree, revealing that my four-times great grandfather Anthony Lovell and his wife Jane Light, who married in 1833, were both from Romani gypsy families. 
‘The moment I found out it made me smile, it gave me almost a sense of pride. I am adopted and that was a little door that was unlocked in terms of unlocking my past.
‘It also answered questions. I didn’t necessarily fit in with my upbringing in Leicestershire and going to boarding school – I got into all sorts of trouble and I ended up channeling that energy into something inherently quite nomadic, walking along the Amazon and doing expeditions.’ 
In the documentary, explorer Ed, who holds the Guiness World Record for being the first man to ever to walk the length of the Amazon River, spends time with Romani gypsies and Irish travellers across the UK.

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He tackles issues, including negative stereotypes around the traveller community, along with toughening laws which mean they could face instant evictions or even prison if they stop in places illegally

He tackles issues, including negative stereotypes around the traveller community, along with toughening laws which mean they could face instant evictions or even prison if they stop in places illegally. 
However he said he also encountered some of the stereotypes associated with the traveller community, witnessing some leaving litter, and others in which children are seen tearing around on noisy motorbikes. 
He said: ‘They bring a lot on themselves, they don’t always play by the rules. But society doesn’t make it easy to do that.’
One group he meets during the documentary, who are staying in a Newquay town centre car park at the time, are told by police that bouncers are on the way.
While speaking about the incident, one 11-year-old traveller, who is training to be a boxer, shows off his knuckle dusters while saying ‘F**k ’em’. 
However Ed responds: ‘Sometimes what you see is anti-social behaviour, but if you corner a dog eventually it’s going to bite you. 

Ed (pictured here during the documentary) said he also encountered some of the stereotypes associated with the traveller community, witnessing some leaving litter, and others in which children are seen tearing around on noisy motorbikes

While filming Ed (pictured here during the documentary) encountered verbal threats, witnessed aggression towards the police, had a stranger defaecate on his windscreen and, saw children using catapults to kill squirrels for dinner

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One group Ed meets during the documentary (pictured), who are staying in a Newquay town centre car park at the time, are told by police that bouncers are on the way

‘They travel in large numbers, not to be intimidating but for safety in numbers so they don’t get targeted. They fear being persecuted.’
In Manchester, he meets a group of gypsy lads who were using catapults to kill squirrels and pigeons for dinner. 
Ed says: ‘We may think it’s slightly naughty behaviour, but they were absolutely crack shots. It appears a bit rough and ready, but it’s quite wholesome as well.
‘To have multi generational families living essentially outdoors, there’s a huge amount to be said for it.
‘It is weird that if you’ve got four walls and a bed, you’re a human being, and if you haven’t you’re treated quite differently. People are people and should live how they want to live.
‘People don’t often realise that gypsies and travellers are an ethnicity, it’s a bloodline not a lifestyle. We should be more accepting.’

60 Days with the Gypsies is on Monday, February 7 on Channel 4 at 9pm.

 

Former army captain discovers he has gypsy heritage while filming documentary  appeared first on maserietv.com.