Alan Henning: the taxi driver who just wanted to help Syrian children

Rachael Pelis (edited@dinarickman
Saturday 04 October 2014 09:30
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This photo of Alan Henning, at a refugee camp on the Turkey-Syria border, was released by his family

A video purporting to show the beheading of Alan Henning, the 47-year-old British aid worker from Salford, has been released by Isis militants.

The murder and the video followed the same pattern as that of the two US journalists, James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and of the British aid worker David Haines. At the end of the video another US aid worker's life was threatened.

Rather than detailing the manner of Henning's murder, this was his life:

Previously a taxi-driver, Henning gave up spending Christmas with his family to go to Syria in December 2013.

Henning had travelled with charity groups to the Middle East three times before making his final trip as part of a 20-vehicle convoy organised by Worcester-based charity, Al-Fatiha Global. Henning volunteered to drive an ambulance delivering life-saving medical supplies to a hospital in north-west Syria on a journey spanning 4,000 miles. He was one of only eight aid workers to continue the journey across the Turkish-Syrian border and was kidnapped shortly after on Boxing Day 2013.

Nicknamed “Gadget” and “Gadge” by his fellow convoy members, Henning was known for his strong technical skills and keen interest in technology. Friends and co-workers have described him as “caring”, “funny” and someone who “gave more than they got”. Henning made the decision to volunteer after being inspired by aid workers who had already been out to Syria, and even had the words “aid for Syria” tattooed on his arm.

In a short video filmed shortly before his capture, Henning said of his aid work: “It’s all worthwhile when you see what is needed actually gets to where it needs to go.”

Henning leaves behind a wife, children and elder sister Gill Kenyon, from Bury, Lancashire. Kenyon posted a message on facebook for Henning’s 47th birthday in August reading: “Happy 47th birthday to my little bro Gadget/Alan Henning. Can’t wait to have a party on your return, love you bro xx.”

A father of two, Henning is said to have devoted much of his spare time towards raising awareness of poverty and suffering in Syria, with particular concern for the effect the conflict has had on Syrian children. Henning raised money for Syrian-based charities by washing cars and chose to sleep in a van on his journey across the Middle East rather than spend money on accommodation that could go towards those in greater need.

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