'She was so strong and brave and she brought the house down'

By Dominic Ponsford

Sun reporter Oliver Harvey was in tears as he walked Birhan Woldu on to the stage of the Hyde Park Live8 concert on Saturday.

In 1984 Woldu, who was flown over to London by The Sun, featured in
a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation report played at the original Live
Aid concert. As she was filmed a nurse gave her just minutes to live,
but she made a remarkable recovery and is now an agriculture student.

Woldu
was tracked down by CBC reporter Brian Stewart in 1988 and also
featured in a Michael Buerk documentary last year. Harvey travelled to
Ethiopia to interview her for The Sun last October.

Harvey said: “It doesn’t get a lot more special than last Saturday. I was there on the side of the stage as she went on.

Although she’s from a very rural part of Ethiopia she was so strong and brave and she brought the house down.

“Everyone was in tears when she came out, I’ve been through a lot with her and I was in tears as well.”

After
travelling to visit Woldu last year, Harvey came up with the idea of
taking her to meet Tony Blair and Bob Geldof at the Africa Commission
confer-ence in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.

Minutes before he
was due to take her in, Sun features editor Dominic Mohan called him
and told him to ask Geldof whether he would consider recording the Band
Aid single Do They Know It’s Christmas? again.

Harvey said: “When
I brought her in and showed Blair a picture of her dying 20 years ago
he just lost it. Tears were in his eyes and it was the most amazing
moment. I said to Bob, ‘We’ve had this idea to re-record Band Aid.’ He
said, ‘OK, but you lot have got to organise it’.”

The Band Aid 20
single went on to raise £15m and The Sun’s part in organising it won it
the Hugh Cudlipp Award for outstanding tabloid journalism at this
year’s British Press Awards.

Harvey has been looking after
Wolduduring her stay in London and has taken her to visit his family –
repaying the hospitality that she showed him during his visit to her
village last year.

He said: “After she came off stage, Bob said
that was the most special moment of the day for him. We stayed together
and watched the rest of the concert. It was a day she’s never going to
forget and I’m never going to forget it either.”

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