Perthshire-raised former Conservative MP and Cabinet minister Rory Stewart has spoken to a sell-out crowd in Perth about travelling on foot across Afghanistan after 9/11.
The 50-year-old, who originally hails from Crieff, is perhaps best known for his wide-ranging career as a politician, academic, writer, adventurer, and co-host of the UK’s leading political podcast, The Rest is Politics.
On Thursday night at Perth’s North Inch Community Campus, the Royal Scottish Geographical Society (RSGS) Livingstone medallist gave a comprehensive and often funny RSGS-hosted talk on the intrepid journey he undertook in 2002 that inspired him to write his bestselling book The Places in Between.
‘Relevance’ of RSGS highlighted
Rory told the capacity audience: “Thank you to the Royal Scottish Geographical Society which is a very fine institution and has an incredible way of making itself relevant to the modern world…it has found real relevance on climate, the environment, young people, on travel, and I am very grateful to you all for supporting it by coming along.”
At the event, RSGS also took the opportunity to award honorary fellowship of the society to David Hope-Jones, former CEO of the Scotland Malawi Partnership, and Laura Cook, communications advisor for The Elders, a group of independent global leaders working together for peace, justice and human rights.
RSGS chief executive Mike Robinson said: “It seems that now more than ever, the news of the world focuses on the worst of humanity, broadcasting stories that centre around intolerance, anger and the exclusion of others.
“But I am sure that, in reality, a strong majority of people are fundamentally good. I am therefore delighted this evening to highlight two good people who’ve been doing good things, often without thanks and mostly unreported.”
Who are the Fellowship recipients?
During his time at Scotland Malawi Partnership, David made significant contributions towards developing the relationship between these two nations.
David’s approach to leadership prioritised dignified partnership and Malawi-led initiatives, and he played a crucial role in strengthening public support and relationships across Holyrood, Westminster and Malawi’s Parliament.
Laura Cook joined The Elders as a communications advisor in 2019, assuming a vital role in leading climate change communication, and elevating intergenerational dialogue within the organisation.
Through her role with The Elders, Laura has helped guide and advise some of the world’s most esteemed international figures, such as former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson; and former UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon.
Both awards were presented by Rory Stewart who added:“These are both exceptional people working on wonderful things, Laura Cook working with The Elders which has done so much to bring the world together, David Hope-Jones who has spearheaded the most thoughtful, detailed work in Malawi- very proud that they are getting honorary fellowships from the society, and proud of the society too.”
Who is Rory Stewart?
Former MP Rory Stewart has walked across the Middle East, been a contender for London Mayor and was touted as the prime minister Britain could have had instead of Boris Johnson, as previously reported by The Courier.
His life story, including a brief stint with the Black Watch, was colourful enough to attract Brad Pitt’s interest for a movie.
But his origins are in Perthshire and Angus where his eventful life in politics and diplomacy began.
*For more in-depth coverage of Rory Stewart’s adventures in Afghanistan, see The Courier’s Weekend magazine on August 12.