Celebrating good deeds

The 2013 Nexus Commonwealth Awards saw key organisations and individuals recognised for their contributions to the Commonwealth of Nations at a glittering black-tie event at the Merchant Taylors’ Hall, City of London, in June.

The awards, launched by Nexus Strategic Partnerships in 2012, recognise the outstanding contributions of all those who help to make the Commonwealth a powerful and innovative force for positive change across the world.

TV personality Baroness Floella Benjamin told guests that she was excited to share “all that is wonderful about the Commonwealth” and spoke about the need to keep “the beacon glowing for our children”. She presented the Communicator of the Year Award to the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association for a project called Your WorldView – an online platform that provides funding and opportunities for international fi lm makers. She praised Your WorldView’s “innovative use of modern technology to ensure that stories from across the Commonwealth reach the widest possible audience”.

Professor Tim Unwin, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation, presented the Investor of the Year Award to Unilever which, he said, stood out “because of its clear example of extensive commitment to sustainability and its success in alleviating poverty for thousands of rural families through agricultural development and addressing of health issues”.

He cited Unilever’s work on smallholder tea projects in Kenya and its “significant” programmes in India.

Lord David Steel, former leader of the UK’s Liberal Party, presented the Making a Difference Award to the Commonwealth of Learning for its Lifelong Learning for Farmers project. He said: “The judges wish to give special mention and thanks to all six nominations, as, in their view, every one of them encompasses the Commonwealth at its very best in terms of its capacity to transform lives.”

In accepting the award, the Commonwealth of Learning paid tribute to “the hard work and enthusiasm of the women who participated in the project”. The other nominations were the Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth Journalists Association, the Commonwealth Nurses Federation, the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association and the Commonwealth Secretariat, Governance and Institutional Development Division.

The Commonwealth Enterprise of the Year Award was presented by the Mauritius High Commissioner to the UK, Abhimanu Mahendra Kundasamy. Winning organisation Achievers International runs an online project designed to encourage students to learn about international trading and business. Presenting the award, the High Commissioner said: “This enterprise goes beyond being just a virtual experience by involving over 30,000 students worldwide.”

Two people were presented with the Outstanding Contribution Award by Rita Payne, former Asia editor for BBC World News, president of the Commonwealth Journalists’ Association and editorial director of Global.

Patsy Robertson was recognised for her work with the Commonwealth Secretariat, where she ran the press office. “Memorably, in 1977 when she was expecting a child, she worked until the last moment at the meeting of prime ministers and presidents in London, who were wrangling over the deteriorating situation in Rhodesia and South Africa and working out the Gleneagles Agreement,” said Payne. “Finally, her work done, she was driven off to hospital and gave birth to a son.”

The second winner of the Outstanding Contribution Award was Sir Roy Marshall, a lawyer, scholar and diplomat, who has served in three different Commonwealth regions. Collecting the award on his behalf, his daughter, Liz Marshall – who attended the ceremony with her own daughter – said: “We’ve always been very proud of him and we’ve always admired greatly all that he has done.”

Former Commonwealth Secretary General Sir Shridath Ramphal was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Nelson Mandela once said of Ramphal: “He is one of those men who has become famous because in their fight for human justice, they have chosen the entire world as their theatre.”

Presenting the award, current Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma paid tribute to Ramphal’s “tireless endeavours and creative statesmanship”.

The evening was compèred by Lord Alan Watson of Richmond.

Nexus is a publishing house and communications agency specialising in Commonwealth affairs. As well as publishing Global quarterly, Nexus produces several annual books for the Commonwealth Secretariat, including The Commonwealth Yearbook. It also launched the second edition of Who’s Who in the Commonwealth of Nations at this year’s awards.



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