To my amazement, it was announced in the 2017 Solomon Islands Independence Day awards that I had been nominated to receive the Solomon Islands medal. I feel it was totally undeserved and I know of several other former missionaries who deserved the award far more than I.
By chance it was the 50th anniversary of my first contact with Solomon Islands, arriving at Pawa School in 1967. In 1970 we moved to Guadalcanal, combining with Pamua Girls’ School to form Selwyn College. One of the new teachers was Jenny who was later to become my wife.
After I returned to the U.K., I was asked in 1977 to be the English Secretary of the Melanesian Mission, and eventually combined that with being a parish priest in Oxfordshire. During my time as English Secretary, we gave hospitality to many visitors from Solomon Islands and Vanuatu and looked after all the bishops and their wives during two Lambeth Conferences. Over all that time Jenny was a tremendous support and I certainly could not have managed without her.
It was a joy to receive the medal from the Governor General, Sir Frank Kabui, supported by Jenny, our daughter Eleanor and Richard Carter. Sir Frank was on a farewell visit to the U.K. before he steps down next year.
At the ceremony, the private secretary, Rawcliffe Ziku gave a brief C.V. ending with the official citation: ‘For distinguished service and commitment to the government and people of Solomon Islands in human resources and community development.’
Over refreshments that followed there was an opportunity for reminiscing and making further acquaintance with the new High Commissioner in the U.K. who turned out to be an old student of mine from Selwyn College days.
Canon John Pinder