By Cheryl Dorall, CJA-UK Secretary
CJA President Emeritus Derek Ingram (picture, seated) was given an award for Outstanding Contribution to the Commonwealth at a gala night of awards in London on Thursday 26 April.
Guests who included members of the House of Lords, High Commissioners, Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma and dozens of representatives from Commonwealth organisations, heard Derek being praised for his devotion to the Commonwealth, first as a newspaper journalist, then as founder and editor of Gemini News Service, which brought unparalleled and in-depth coverage of developing countries before it closed in 1993.
Derek was also founder president of the CJA in 1978.
His dogged support has seen him write on some of the biggest events in recent times – on coups, apartheid, the break up of countries, emergence of others as newly independent states and the growth of the Commonwealth as a multilateral association itself. He has also covered every Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting bar the last one (in 2011) and has interviewed three generations of leaders.
“No other individual has done so much to communicate the Commonwealth to the world, and to mentor other communicators,” Ghana’s High Commissioner, Professor Kwaku Danso-Boafo, said, reading from the citation before presenting the award. “And if that wasn’t enough he is also responsible for the famous ‘hedgehog’ Commonwealth logo!”
The full citation for Derek can be read at the Nexus Awards site.
True to form, in his acceptance speech, Derek alluded to critics who often write off the Commonwealth as being past its prime. “On the contrary,” he said to applause. ” I firmly believe the Commonwealth is on its way up. It is, in fact, a young association.”
How young was underlined by the fact that the awards, which were sponsored by Nexus Strategic Partnerships as the Nexus Commonwealth Awards 2012, were held on the 63rd anniversary of the signing of the London Declaration in 1949 which is generally accepted as the starting date of the Modern Commonwealth.
Derek shared the Outstanding Contribution Award with Peter Williams (in picture, standing, right), head of the Commonwealth Consortium for Education, who had devoted nearly half a century to improving access to quality education in the Commonwealth.
The Nexus Commonwealth Lifetime Achievement Award went to former South African President Nelson Mandela.
Other awards: Communicator of the Year Award to the Commonwealth Secretariat (Youth Programme) for its innovative web site YourComonwealth.org; Investor of the Year Award to Coca Cola Company; Enterprise of the Year Award to the education organisation Link Community Development; and the Jubilee Award t0 the Royal Commonwealth Society Jubilee Time Capsule.
All the award winners and full citations can be read here.