Nansen Medal Award Ceremony: Presentation Speech by Dr. Auguste R. Lindt, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, on the occasion of the award of the Nansen Medal for 1958 to Mr. David Hoggett
Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,
As Chairman of the Nansen Medal Award Committee it gives me very great pleasure to be authorized to grant the Nansen Medal for 1958 to Mr. David Hoggett, of Cheltenham, England. Unfortunately Mr. Hoggett's doctors have advised against his being present in person today in order to receive his award, but the medal will be transmitted to him in England during the course of next week by General Lyne who has been kind enough to come here today in order to receive the medal on his behalf.
In welcoming General Lyne, I am happy to do so not only as a personal friend, but also because he is the Joint President of the United Nations Association of Great Britain and Northern Ireland which has always played such a leading part in offering practical help to refugees.
For many years now the British United Nations Association have organized voluntary work camps to build houses for refugees, and some 600 volunteer workers were actually working in Austria during this past summer. The principal organizer of these work camps, Mr. Robin Howard, has flown specially from England to be with us today, and I am most happy to welcome him at this ceremony.
When the Award Committee unanimously decided to award the Nansen Medal for 1958 to Mr. David Hoggett they were particularly anxious, when honouring the great personal sacrifices made voluntarily by him on behalf of refugees in Austria and elsewhere, to honour at the same time all the innumerable men and women of goodwill throughout the world working voluntarily for the cause of refugees.
I think that it is most fitting that the Committee's choice should have fallen upon David Hoggett to represent the many thousands of unknown voluntary workers for refugees. I can, perhaps, best illustrate something of the remarkable character of this Englishman by reading you extracts from a letter we received from the Secretary-General of the British United Nations Association.
"David Hoggett was one of the leaders of the work camp at Leonding near Linz in Austria when, in 1956, he had the grave misfortune to fall from the roof of one of the houses which he was helping to build for refugee families. I think you know that this accident paralysed David from the chest down. It was only through sheer willpower that David Hoggett lived through the first few days following his accident, and again withstood the journey to Britain. Here he is confined to bed for all but six hours of the day when he is out in a wheelchair. He is very much involved with the work of the United Nations Association and he is also learning to type making use of an appliance his brother has made for him and which can be attached to his left arm.
"David Hoggett was a particularly valuable volunteer, not only because of his personality, but because he was an experienced builder and was ideally suited to being in charge of the other volunteers working with him. He was in every way a leader for he is a person with a great sense of responsibility tempered with a lively sense of humour."
If I may for a moment be permitted to speak as High Commissioner for Refugees I would just like to say how completely impossible my task would be were it not for the constant support which my Office receives, not only from the voluntary agencies without whose assistance the UNREF programme could not be implemented, but also for the assistance of thousands of unknown voluntary workers throughout the world. These voluntary workers who so readily and freely give their time, effort and energy towards helping their less fortunate fellow human beings are worthy of the highest praise. Their helping hands are a practical expression of what man can do for man and will always serve as an example to all of us.
When the Award Committee decided to hold today's ceremony on the 10 October they did so because this date is the anniversary of Fridtjof Nansen's birthday. On this day it is our privilege to remember the inscription which appears on the medal bearing his name; "Love of man is practical policy". David Hoggett has lived in this spirit, and it is a great pleasure and honour for me, on behalf of the Nansen Medal Award Committee, to ask General Lyne to accept the Nansen Medal for 1958 on his behalf.