Lost Riders

 Macmillan ISBN 978-0-230-52895-6 (Hardback), ISBN 978-0-330-45209-0 (Paperback)

Macmillan ISBN 978-0-230-52895-6 (Hardback), ISBN 978-0-330-45209-0 (Paperback)

Rashid feels as if he has lost everything when he is forced to work as a camel jockey in a strange, faraway country.

He must win his races or face terrible punishment. But even when Rashid becomes his stable's star jockey, the only thing on his mind is escape.

I first heard about young camel jockeys from a friend who had met them in Rahimyar Khan, a town in Pakistan from which many of them originally came. Some of the boys had returned to their families, so I decided to go to Rahimyar Khan and meet them myself.

I felt nervous travelling to such an unknown place on my own, but I needn't have worried. Once I was in Pakistan, I was wonderfully helped and looked after by Mr Sabir Farhat and his colleagues, who have set up a charity to help the young returned jockeys put their lives back together again. They took me out to the villages where the boys lived, and I rode from place to place on the back of my translator's motorbike, clutching my veil to stop the wind from blowing it away.

It was a moving experience, to meet these courageous young boys, who have had more frightening experiences in their young lives than most of us face in a lifetime. I was deeply impressed by them, and by the loyalty and friendship they show for each other.

On the way home from Pakistan, I went to Dubai to see the camel races for myself. I met some of the camel owners and visited their stables, helped by Issam Azouri, who has done so much to help the boys.


Shortlisted for the Manchester Book Award and the Stockport Schools Book Award