A big thank you to anybody who attended our event and medal presentation on Friday night – An Evening of Conversation with Annie Lennox OBE.
The evening was an incredible insight into Annie’s work to raise the profile of the issue of HIV/AIDS around the world. During their conversation Annie and Sheena touched on Annie’s work with a diverse range of organisations from UNAIDS to Oxfam to Comic Relief and then on to Annie’s founding of her own charity SING which pulled together female recording artists from across the globe to lend their own voices to the cause. Annie’s memories of working with those suffering from the disease proved very emotional and there were very few dry eyes in the house, especially during a video clip which showed Annie with a little girl whose life has been saved by receiving the correct HIV/AIDS medication.
Mike Robinson, RSGS Chief Executive, had the following to say before presenting Annie with her medal:
The Royal Scottish Geographical Society was founded by David Livingstone’s eldest daughter Agnes 132 years ago, and she also bequeathed a medal to the Society in her father’s honour. This Livingstone Medal is primarily given in recognition of outstanding service of a humanitarian nature with a clear geographical dimension, and it has gone on to develop an incredible heritage of its own. As I hinted in my introduction, since 1901 we have used this Medal to celebrate the endeavours of those who have tried to make the world a better place ”“ either through testing the limits of what is possible geographically and scientifically or by inspiring and informing people about critical local and global geographical issues.
Previous recipients have included such stellar names as HM Stanley, Fridtjof Nansen, Robert Falcon Scott, Roald Amundsen, Ernest Shackleton, Edmund Hillary, Neil Armstrong and, more recently, Africa’s first female Nobel Peace Prize winner, Professor Wangari Maathai, and the ex-President of Ireland, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights & Climate Justice campaigner and Elder, Mary Robinson.
The RSGS is proud to add Annie Lennox’s name to that illustrious list. I’m sure we all recognise Annie as a singer-songwriter and one of the finest and most outstanding musical voices of our time. But as we have heard tonight, Annie Lennox is also a tireless campaigner on the issue of HIV/AIDS and its impact on women and children’s lives. It is no easy thing to stand up and fight for change ”“ however right you might be. It takes courage and passion and can risk a great deal. But Annie has remained steadfast and has continued to highlight inequalities.
In addition to the ‘SING’ campaign, which she founded in 2007 to help prevent the spread of HIV in South Africa, Annie is a Global UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador. She is also an Ambassador for Oxfam, for Nelson Mandela’s 46664 Campaign, for Amnesty International, for The British Red Cross. She is a Special Envoy for HIV and AIDS in Scotland and an Ambassador for HIV and AIDS in London. In 2011 she was granted an OBE. Annie Lennox is also the founder of ‘The Circle’ – a registered NGO working to protect and promote the rights of the most marginalised women and girls across the globe.
But in addition to all of these things, Annie Lennox is also an inspiration. According to one of our audience members here tonight, and I quote: “Annie was one of the strong, Scottish young women who showed me that you could be yourself and make a positive and powerful impact. She inspired me to have courage and go for it ”“ she’s a fantastic influence.”