The Society’s Special Award was instituted in 1998 by a resolution of Council. The criteria are that “the award shall be made in recognition of exceptionally outstanding and unusual achievement in Asia, or any part of it or in connection with Asia. The achievement may be in any sphere, including service to humanity, contribution to science, the extension of knowledge, innovation, individual ingenuity and resource, personal effort and courage, endurance, fortitude or contribution to culture.”
The Special Award is intended to supplement the categories of persons who may be recognised by the Society by the award of the Sykes or Lawrence medals and not to exclude anyone who might also be considered for the honour of either of these medals.
Hover over a recipients name to view more details about their projects.
2016Mr William Lindesday OBE
Name: Mr William Lindesday OBE
Mr William Lindesay OBE,
Mr William Lindesay O.B.E. will be the 8th recipient of The Special Award. He is a graduate of the University of Liverpool, specialising in geography and geology, who in 1987 made what China’s official Xinhua News Agency described as “the most successful foreign exploration of the Great Wall” when he made a 1,535 mile solo journey on foot along its length. During this endeavour he survived illness, injury, extremes of temperature, viscous dogs, arrest and deportation. From 1994 he made systematic research of the Great Wall in the Beijing region and brought the Chinese media’s attention, in 1998, to the fact that the environment around the wall was degrading. Consequently he organised two major clean up missions, which resulted in the Chinese government awarding him their “Friendship Medal” that year.
Next, Lindesay founded the “International Friends of The Great Wall” in Hong Kong in 2001, so as to assist the Chinese authorities in their funding and efforts to preserve the wall’s authenticity. Working together they successfully nominated the wall to be included in the World Monuments Fund’s “2002 List of the World’s Most 100 Endangered Sites.”
For his work on the wall, William Lindesay was awarded the O.B.E. in July 2006. Two years later he received awards in China, which include “Top Ten Volunteers in Beijing” and “Top Ten National Defenders of Cultural Heritage”.
Lindesay has written many articles and reports about the wall and his books include:
“Alone on The Great Wall” (1989); “Images of Asia: The Great Wall” (2003); “The Great Wall Explained” (2012); “The Great Wall of Two Williams” (2012, in Mandarin)
Lindesay has lectured about the Great Wall to many learned societies in China, the USA, Hong Kong, Germany and Great Britain. In 2008 he staged exhibitions in Beijing and at the western and eastern ends of the wall as well along the wall’s route. These were followed in 2010 by a television documentary for the National Geographic television channel. Subsequently, in 2011 and 2012, Lindesay led two pioneering expeditions with fellow researchers to investigate “The Wall of Genghis Khan” in Mongolia.
The Society’s “Special Award” was instituted in 1998 by resolution of Council to “be made in recognition of exceptionally outstanding and unusual achievement in Asia… in any sphere, including service to humanity, contribution to science, the extension of knowledge, innovation, individual ingenuity and resource, personal effort and courage, endurance, fortitude or contribution to culture.” In conclusion, Mr William Lindesay fulfils many, if not all, of the above criteria for his major efforts to help conserve, protect and increase knowledge about The Great Wall of China.
1998Mr. Peter McMillan
Name: Mr. Peter McMillan
For his ingenuity, resource and courage in re-enacting the original flight in 1919 from Britain to Australia by the Smith brothers in a replica Vickers Vimy FB 27A bomber.
1999Dr. Ina Russell
Name: Dr. Ina Russell
For long and dedicated service to the Royal Society for Asian Affairs both as a Member of Council and as an Honorary Secretary.
2003Miss Susan Farrington
Name: Miss Susan Farrington
In recognition of her contribution to the aims of the Society, in particular to a sympathetic understanding of British links with Southern and South East Asia.
The award recognises her painstaking and enthusiastic work in locating, researching and recording British graves outside the remit of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in the Indian sub-Continent and in South East Asia, both on behalf of the British Association for Cemeteries of South Asia and independently. Her role in recording on audio-tape and in print the memoirs of former British Crown servants in Asia. Several of these records have been deposited in the archives of the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum in Bristol. Her major contribution to the Society’s Centenary History, both by independent research and in preparing the text for printing and publication. Her role in administering Operation Raleigh in Pakistan in conjunction with the Adventure Foundation, Pakistan.
2004Miss Mary Mackay
Name: Miss Mary Mackay
In recognition of her active loyalty as a member of the Society and her generosity to the Library and Archives of the Society.
Mrs Mackay’s donations to the Library are particularly valued and noteworthy because they relate to British experience in Central Asia during the late nineteenth century and first decade of the twentieth century, overlapping the period when this Society was founded and developed as the Central Asian Society. Her loyalty to the Society has been demonstrated by regular attendance at meetings to which she travelled from Northumberland. She also took part in travel by members of the Society to Iraq in 1978, to Kashgar in North-West China in 1990 and to Uzbekistan in 1994. From the visit to Kashgar, she contributed a number of outstanding photographs to the Society’s Archives.
2005Miss Caroline Hawley
Name: Miss Caroline Hawley
This award recognises her distinguished career as a foreign correspondent in the troubled areas of the Middle East, which have included tours in Israel, Egypt and Jordan.
It reflects especially her continuing service with the British Broadcasting Corporation in Iraq, both before the outbreak of war in that country in March 2003, and in its aftermath. It acknowledges her determined approach to factual reporting and her courage in seeking, in very difficult circumstances, to convey to the British public the realities of present-day Iraq. The consistent quality of her reporting in hazardous conditions has evoked admiration from a wide public and has followed a distinguished tradition set by former journalists and BBC World Service reporters also honoured by this Society.
2011Dr. Alex Duncan
Name: Dr. Alex Duncan
Dr Alex Duncan first went to Pakistan to teach English in his gap year, and remained interested in Asia. Following his medical training in Cambridge and London, he did some brief spells in hospitals in Pakistan before doing his GP training. He married in 1997, and they went to Pakistan in 1999, working with Afghan refugees, and to Afghanistan in 2002. He and his wife and four children lived in a village high up in the Wakhan Corridor of north-eastern Afghnistan for six years, trying to improve the health of some of the poorest people on earth. They lived in a typical Wakhi one-roomed mud hut with no running water or drains, no beds and little food, using many blankets to negotiate the -25ºC winter temperatures.
The region had a terrifyingly high mortality rate from respiratory diseases among the children, caused by cooking in the one-roomed houses that everyone in the region live in. This increased the mortality rate in children by 10% and when Dr Duncan and his family arrived there in 2002 a third of the children died before the age of five. The number of deaths was a big shock to his wife Eleanor, a linguist, who had taken on the role of talking to the local women and teaching her own children. Five years later this mortality rate in children had dropped to a quarter.
In January 2010 Dr Duncan and his wife were each awarded an MBE for their work in Afghanistan. In recognition of their time spent in the Wakhan Corridor improving the health of the people there and in pursuance of the Council’s resolution, this award is made and a citation is presented on 11 May 2011 to Dr Alex Duncan MBE.
2011Major Roddy Jones
Name: Major Roddy Jones
Major Roddy Jones is a long standing member of the Royal Society for Asian Affairs and served with the Royal Welch Fusiliers in Arabia and Afghanistan until the late 1960’s when he suffered a severe leg injury. After retirement from the Army he remained working in Saudi Arabia and Oman as Keeper of the Arabian Horse Stud Dhirab and as a Field Officer at the Oryx Preservation Park Jabuni in Oman.
In 1997 he became involved in the Afghan Mother and Child Rescue organisation in the Panjshir Valley. Working in the area had been made very difficult by the eruption of the Taliban in the region, but Major Jones set to work supervising the building of a Mother and Child Health Clinic at Rokha in the Panjshir Valley. After its completion in 2000 other clinics were started in the Panjshir Valley and despite his leg disability he makes twice yearly visits either from Kabul or from Dushambe in Tajikistan, depending on the political situation.
In recognition of long service in Arabia involved in research, equine stud management and the Oryx Conservation Project in Oman, and for over ten years primary humanitarian involvement in the Afghan Mother and Child Reserve Clinics in Afghanistan in pursuance of the Council’s resolution, the award is made and a citation is presented on 11 May 2011 to Major E R L Jones.
LATEST RECIPIENT BIO
- Mr William Lindesay OBE
- Job title:
- Explorer and conservationist
Mr William Lindesay OBE, in 1987, made ‘the most successful foreign exploration of the Great Wall’ (Xinhua News Agency) when he followed a 1,353 mile solo journey on foot along its length. He subsequently founded the ‘International Friend of The Great Wall’ in Hong Kong in 2001, to assist Chinese authorities in their funding and efforts to preserve the wall, for which he was awarded the OBE in 2006. Two years later he received awards in China, including ‘Top Ten Volunteers in Beijing’ and ‘Top Ten National Defenders of Cultural Heritage.’
Lindesay has written many articles and reports and lectured about the Great Wall in China, the USA, Hong Kong, Germany and Great Britain.