Mr William Lindesay OBE 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, vicious 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 OBE 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.