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Short address in the event of being given the GENEROSITY award

at St Mellion, Friday 29th of October 2004

I am humbled and I thank you with words that I hope are far removed from Hollywood.

We are more the creatures of our upbringing than our genes I think - more of nurture than nature.

My Mum had a very soft heart and she loved babies and the natural world as do I. She said "share and share alike" to the four of us. I was the eldest of four in those lean war and post war years.

My Dad had a rudimentary education and a frustrated intellect. He said things like "you can only do your best" and "stand up for yourself". The latter certainly spurred independence of thought but sometimes sounded hard to a sensitive youngster.

Both spurned lying: it was a fundamental sin. I wonder how many in the present political echelons were taught that?

I was very fortunate to be taught by a remarkable cadre of teachers at Shaftesbury Grammar School and even more so to learn medicine at St Mary's in Paddington. The family like environment and the teaching could not have been bettered. Other excellent masters followed as I trained in surgery and later specialised in orthopaedic and trauma surgery.

The voyage of the Dove and the Dolphin to Gaza which started from Haldon Quay, Torquay on the 1st of February was the basis for this award. I thank our children Andrew (who is here) and Fiona for being rightly unconcerned that some of their likely inheritance was being spent and for their wholehearted support.

Almost all my gratitude is for a pretty and kind hearted (she must have been) nurse I met 45 years ago and whom I married 43 years ago as a 21 yr old clinical student. She has kept her marriage vows by caring for a restless volcano of a man through thick and thin. Most recently she has stood with me in speaking against the brutal occupation of the remnants of historic Palestine and for justice for these people. She had the guts to come with me to Israel and the so called West Bank recently and on her own volition, although I knew she would be frightened.

Those who are here for the awards know the selection of individuals is random and that the lights of many more worthy folk are hidden under bushels beyond. And that is so of course throughout the world. A world which is growing more chaotic,violent and irrational.

This is where the virtues being celebrated here tonight come in and the power of the whole must not be underestimated; John Pilger speaks of the second superpower – the people.

I suggest the following themes for this superpower and they come from the 25 metre long banner that I had made and which flew between the fore and stern masts of MV Barbara as it steamed out of Torbay 21 months ago.

The overall theme for the voyage was a quotation from Albert Schweitzer, MD in Theology, Music, Philosophy and Medicine. He was a real polymath and he could make cathedral organs too. His book on his doctoring in Lambarene in the Congo and which I read when twelve was part motivation for my course in life.

"REVERENCE FOR ALL LIFE" was the declaration.

Below this I had chosen my own words:


You will note the order. Thank you all very much.