Last night’s Ceremony of the Westminster Award for Human Life, Human Rights, and Human Dignity, this year given to the Scottish charity leader Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, was a great success.
With Parliamentarians from all major parties, and an audience representing many organisations and professions in attendance, the Ceremony held in Committee Room 5 heard the powerful contribution of MacFarlane-Barrow and his organisation, Mary’s Meals, to the humanitarian effort to feed and educate children in some of the poorest parts of the world.
Lord Bates, the Minister of State at the Department for International Development, paid tribute to MacFarlane-Barrow and the work of Mary’s Meals at the beginning of the Ceremony, noting its importance as a part of civil society helping the world’s poorest people, and the example it gives of effective charitable and development efforts at a time when international aid by Government is under serious scrutiny and criticism.
Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, with his brother Fergus, started his charity efforts in 1992 during the conflict in the Balkans after the breakup of the state of Yugoslavia. The two brothers were both fish-farmers in their mid-to-late-twenties when, touched by the plight of those affected by the conflict, they began a local appeal for food and blankets. They then drove to Bosnia with a jeep filled with the cargo they received and kept in their parents’ shed, and delivered it to those in need.
When they returned, they found that more donations had come in, and so Magnus took a year out from his job to continue delivering the aid. The donations never stopped however, and so Magnus took on his project full time, turning it into a charity initially named ‘Scottish International Relief’ and recently renamed ‘Mary’s Meals’.
In the 25 years that the charity will have been going by the end of 2017, it has become a school feeding charity, working with some of the world’s poorest communities to set up school feeding programmes, which enable children to come to school and gain an education that can offer a route out of poverty. In 2015, the number of children served by Mary’s Meals reached the milestone of 1,000,000.
The Westminster Award recognises extraordinary and notable work and achievements that safeguard the dignity and right to life of human beings. Its recipient is chosen by the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group and the Trustees of Right To Life, having taken advice from senior Parliamentarians in both Houses. This year, a person has been chosen due to his hard work, over more than two decades, to make sure that the necessities of life are provided to those suffering from some of the worst deprivation in the world today.
Fiona Bruce MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group and a Patron of Right To Life, said:
By Magnus’s efforts leading Mary’s Meals, many people have been delivered from hunger and malnutrition, and so Magnus has by these compassionate charitable accomplishments safeguarded the most fundamental right to life of the most vulnerable people in the world. Mary’s Meals is a triumph of humane and compassionate moral endeavour. This deserves our praise and richly merits the Westminster Award for Human Life, Human Rights, and Human Dignity.
Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, Recipient of the Westminster Award, said:
I am deeply honoured and moved to receive this award and so very grateful for this recognition of Mary’s Meals as a mission focused on the right of each child to life – and life to the full. Without enough food to eat or the chance of at least a basic education, a child is denied the chance to grow and become the person they are meant to be. Our daily meal in a place of education helps meet those most basic needs of every child and helps set them free that they might live with dignity. I thank sincerely those who decided to recognise our work in this special way.
Councillor Chris Whitehouse KSG, a Trustee of Right To Life, said:
At Right To Life, we generally campaign against direct violations of the human right to life, and the dignity of the human person itself, in the law’s refusal to protect the vulnerable or attempts to remove vital protections. This Award to Magnus helps to illustrate that the very same ethic that drives our efforts for the elderly, the disabled, the terminally-ill, and the unborn child, amongst others, is one that also brings concern for a broader respect for humanity, and a celebration of the charitable efforts he has led that show true solidarity to those members of the human family who most need assistance to live.
Lord Alton, senior member of the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group, and a Patron of Right To Life, said:
Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow has a passion for human rights, human life, and human dignity and his work and beliefs demonstrate how this trinity of concerns come together as one. An extraordinary humanitarian, on a daily basis, Magnus saves lives – believing that, from the womb to the tomb, we must honour, respect and uphold the sanctity and worth of every human life. He’s incredibly inspiring and we can all learn a great deal from him.
RTL photos of the Westminster Award 2017 here can be used for media purposes and can be downloaded in high resolution via Flickr.
RTL Executive Officer Peter D. Williams is available for further comment and media interviews about this and other right-to-life issues. For examples of previous RTL public appearances, see our website.