“It’s good to celebrate the best of people in the world” – Champions of Change 2017
Lord Hague headlined a list of dignitaries at the House of Lords who helped celebrate Rotary’s annual Champions of Change Awards.
Rotary International and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have contributed more to the health of the people of the world than any nation.
That was the message which former Secretary of State, Lord Hague of Richmond, had for Rotarians and their guests when they met for the annual Champions of Change Awards at the House of Lords.
The event came exactly a week after Lord Hague had met with Bill Gates when they discussed the need for overseas aid.
The former Foreign Secretary said it was important that countries supported development aid. “I can really identify with much of the work that has been done by these awardees here tonight,” said Lord Hague.
“I have been to the most vile places; spoken with war lords and seen the very worst of the people of the world, so it is good to be involved with this event and to celebrate what is the best of people in the world.”
In presenting the awards to the 11 Rotary Champions of Change, he said: “To be part of the work in Rotary International you should be extremely proud.”
In addition to the four domestic and seven international Champions of Change, this year for the first time, there were Community Champions — five non-Rotarians who had been selected from those nominated by Rotary clubs throughout Great Britain and Ireland.
There were two other special awards presented – the first by Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland President Eve Conway was the first ever Presidential Award which was made to Cardiff Rotarian George Mercer.
George, who will once again be President of his Club in what is the centenary year of Rotary in Wales, was cited for recognising a need for a new innovative style of club to attract younger members.
In spite of initial rejection of the idea, George continued to push forward and took the motion through the Rotary International Council of Legislation, opening up the opportunity for clubs worldwide to create satellite clubs.
Former Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Moore, was made a Paul Harris Fellow to recognise his part in the creation of the Champions of Change Awards themselves.
Through Rotary connections he realised the potential of this Awards night and arranged for the first one to be held in the Scotland Office persuading the then Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to make the presentations and thus giving the event recognition.
Michael’s Award was received on his behalf by Lord Campbell of Pittenweem, a former Rotary Scholar, who went to Stanford University and regaled his audience with tales of Flower Power California in the Sixties.
The event was hosted by Baroness Harris of Richmond, who said it had been a privilege to welcome everyone to the Palace of Westminster.
There were cheers from the audience for Lord Hague and Lord Campbell when they both announced that they were Honorary Rotarians — Hague at Richmond and Campbell in Howe of Fife.
Published: Monday 22nd May 2017
Words by Herbert Chatters