ONE day he was 6,000 miles from home, meeting young victims of a cruel global industry which is destroying the lives of thousands of people. The next he was on stage performing alongside Ellie Goulding in front of tens of thousands of fans at one of the world’s biggest music festivals. ‘A stark contrast’ is how Joe Clegg described that feeling, and a feeling he said, that changed the way he looks at life and the things he does. SOPHIE-MAY CLARKE reports...

IN the summer of 2017, Colne musician Joe was thrown into a world previously unknown to him when he embarked on a journey to Cambodia with Hope for Justice, a global charity which works with victims of modern-day slavery, with the hope of one day ending an industry which is still very much up and running.

They were some of the hardest, he argues, but also some of the most important days of his life. They were days he knew would change his life and change the way he looked at things.

His day job, if that’s what you can call it, is as drummer and music director to some of the world’s biggest pop stars.

The father-of-two splits his time between touring the world with Ellie Goulding and Mumford and Sons and working from his secret Clitheroe music studio, which hides in plain sight in the heart of the town and has housed some of the music industry’s biggest names over the years.

He loves his job and is humble about the life he leads, which sees him jetting around the globe with the world’s rich and famous. But when Joe was introduced to the CEO of Hope For Justice, Ben Cooley, he was pushed on how he could use his position to engage others with charity work.

He explained: “I became totally captured when I met Ben. He challenged me about my life and achievements, in an extremely positive way, but it made me ask the question: Could I be engaged with something bigger than just surviving?”

Soon after the conversation took place, Joe found himself on a plane to Cambodia to visit the charity’s latest project. Agreeing to go on the trip the former Nelson and Colne College student knew he’d need to act upon whatever it was he was about to experience.

He said: “I’m always up for a challenge and I knew I would never say no but I also knew that as soon as I said yes to engaging with the work this charity does, I’d need to act upon it.

“I met a six-year-old girl, the same age as my son, who had been sold by her own parents to a British man. She’d been sold for sex. This is heavy stuff and stuff people struggle to engage with.”

The day after he arrived back in the UK, Joe was on stage with Ellie Goulding, playing at V Festival to a huge crowd of eager fans.

The transition was tougher for the musician than he expected it would be.

He said: “I went straight back into festival season. I was straight back into what is ‘normal’ life for me, and I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t challenging.

“It took me some time to figure out how I could engage with what I had experienced on a positive level. I started thinking about how and what I could do.

“When I told Ellie about the trip, she knew she wanted to try and help. We decided to play a few sets with one of my old drum kits and Ellie signed the skin and we got some pictures taken, I then gifted the kit to Hope For Justice to auction off - it might not have been huge, but it was a start and a gesture of my commitment.”

A number of weeks later and Joe found himself signing up to his next big challenge for the charity - a 370km bike ride from Phnom Penh in Cambodia to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.

He admits when he agreed to take part he was sceptical the trip would actually happen, but now just weeks from d-day, the 35-year-old is starting to realise the scale of the commitment he has made.

“My preparation has been far from ideal...but I’m putting myself through this because I’m not a cyclist, it won’t be easy for me.

“This is good starting point for me, I’ve got something I believe in and people will realise I’m serious about it. I set myself a £10,000 fundraising target and I think it’s going to be hit.

“For the charity, the fundraising is the biggest part, but the most important thing for me it’s raising awareness. People don’t want to talk about slavery, this is a start at trying to create some engagement.

“These are awesome people and they are working hard to rescue people from slavery. If you asked me five years ago if this would be part of my life I would have said you’re crazy, but it is now!”

To help Joe reach his fundraising target, visit