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ICS Chairman’s Remarks at the Royal Hospital Chelsea

ICS Chairman Laurence Geller’s full remarks at the presentation of ICS coins to WWII Chelsea Pensioners and Churchill Leadership Award to RHC

13 November 2019

Governor General Sir Adrian Bradshaw, Chelsea Pensioners, ladies and gentlemen and my fellow Churchillians, Jennie Churchill and I are delighted to welcome you to this evening’s International Churchill Society’s presentation of its annual Winston S Churchill Leadership Award to the Royal Hospital, Chelsea.

Churchill said, “Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because it is the quality that guarantees all others.”

This year, the 75th Anniversary of D Day, ICS is delighted to also recognize those courageous 43 veterans of WWII who live in this amazing Christopher Wren facility, which opened its doors in 1692.

As we gather here this evening, just two days after Remembrance Day, where the Chelsea pensioners proudly played such an important and visible role, I cannot help but remember the wrenching sacrifices made. However, I equally cannot forget the Churchill quote “The bright gleam of victory has caught the helmets of our soldiers and cheered all of our hearts.”

The International Churchill Society was founded to educate new generations on the leadership, statesmanship, vision, courage and boldness of Sir Winston Churchill.

Today, not only do we keep the memory of one of this nation’s finest sons green but importantly we strive to use the lessons learned from his great man’s astonishingly wide swath of experiences to the benefit of current and future generations to encourage the change the future by learning the lessons of Churchill’s life well lived.

In 1948 Churchill said, ‘Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.’

As we look around us all too often tumultuous world today, we are reminded how very true that is and how all too often this admonition goes unheeded.

However we, at ICS, believe it is our duty to keep Churchill’s lessons current, relevant and always in as many minds as possible minds.

To that end, not only do put on a wide range of debating, speaking and design competitions, we importantly provide free access to learning modules and the digitalized Churchill Archives curated so brilliantly by Allen Packwood and tailored lessons to high schools throughout the world.

We also carry out a wide range of activities which include conferences, seminars, and much-needed fundraising events in the UK and N. America and work in partnership with wonderful organizations such as RUSI, The Royal United Services Institute, not only the oldest, but by far and away, the UK’s leading think tank in defence and security matters, whose transformative Director General, Karin Von Hippel is here this evening.

Next Spring, Sir John Major will launch the first of a series of joint ICS-RUSI events and all are welcome to attend.

While on October 21st of next year we will have ICS’s Annual Fund Raiser and Awards Dinner in London and we hope you will attend and help us celebrate much-needed leadership and statesmanship.

This will be followed by ICS’s Annual Conference which will be held in London between 22nd and 25th October, always an illuminating and enjoyable event.

This year we launched the Young Churchillians led by Jennie’s son, George Repard, with an entertaining and energetic dinner for some 220 people at Boisdale in Canary Wharf. The next event will be on September 24th next year at the same venue.

Some of you might know that I am passionately dedicated to ever-improving the lives of our nation’s elderly, particularly those suffering from dementia, a global pandemic with no yet known preventions or cures.

As a result, in 2016 I opened London’s first purpose-built residential care facility in Chelsea, for those suffering from this destructive and always fatal disease…

…and started working with the Royal Hospital which itself houses an amazing dementia care facility and has joined with Alzheimer’s Research UK, The Alzheimer’s Society and the University of West London’s Dementia Care Institute to raise much-needed funds for the work with a joint fundraiser to be held at the Royal Hospital on Wednesday 30th September 2020

As the Chairman of the event, I unashamedly ask you to support this unique alliance and join us in the battle against this terrible disease – which afflicts not only those with dementia but their family and loved ones

Jennie and I would like to thank Sir Adrian and his superb team for helping us arrange this event, Jo Chauveau for so ably organizing this evening, and the Churchill family, led by the always hardworking Randolph, for preserving and cherishing their legacy but for being such hard-working and dedicated ambassadors for ICS.

By the way, I understand that a distant relative of the first Duke of Marlborough, Lieutenant General Charles Churchill was, from 1720 -1722 a Governor of the Royal Hospital.

Above all we want to thank each of you for joining this evening and celebrating two great National Treasures: the Royal Hospital Chelsea and all that it stands for, and, of course, the quintessential soldier-statesman, a man who, against overwhelming odds, led our great Nation in its victorious battle for freedom and democracy and to whom we will always owe an unpayable debt, Sir Winston Churchill.

I would now like to introduce Allen Packwood, the Director of Churchill Archives at Churchill College, Cambridge, who, in 2016, received his OBE and in 2018, who’s book, “How Churchill Waged War” was published to critical acclaim. He was responsible for “Churchill 2015” a unique international collaboration culminating in the series of successful events celebrating Churchill, 50 years after his death.

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The International Churchill Society (ICS), founded in 1968 shortly after Churchill's death, is the world’s preeminent member organisation dedicated to preserving the historic legacy of Sir Winston Churchill.

At a time when leadership is challenged at every turn, that legacy looms larger and remains more relevant than ever.