Former NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson of Port Ellen is this yearâ€™s recipient of the coveted Wallace Award. The accolade, sponsored by the American-Scottish Foundation this year in support of the Scots Guards Colonelâ€™s Fund Dinner, recognises Scots or those living in America of Scottish descent for their achievements and individual contributions to the well-being of Scotland. The honour will be bestowed upon Lord Robertson as invited guests and dignitaries from both sides of the Atlantic converge in New York on September 22 for the Scots Guards Colonelâ€™s Fund Dinner. Regarded as the most prestigious event in the American-Scottish community calendar, the high profile dinner supports the work of the invaluable Colonelâ€™s Fund, providing medical care for Scots Guards injured in action and families of those killed on the front line.
The Right Honourable Lord Robertson was serving as the 10th Secretary General of NATO immediately after the 9/11 attacks on the United States in 2001, becoming the first man to invoke Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, which states that an attack on one country is an attack on all. In 2003, he was one of the few non-Americans to be honoured with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honour in the United States, from President George W Bush. A year later, he was given Scotlandâ€™s highest honour when he was appointed as one of the sixteen Knights of the Thistle by the Queen. Continue reading.....
Born on the Isle of Islay in 1946, Lord Robertson was UK defence secretary from 1997-1999 and was a Member of Parliament for Hamilton and Hamilton South from 1978-1999. In the late 1960s and 1970s he took responsibility for the Scottish whisky industry as an official of the General, Municipal and Boilermakersâ€™ Union (GMB). His entry into mainstream politics came in 1978, when he was first elected to the House of Commons, then re-elected five times. In 1979, he was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Social Services.
Lord Robertson was later appointed an opposition spokesman, first on Scottish Affairs, then Defence and Foreign Affairs from 1982 to 1993, becoming chief spokesman on Europe in 1983. Serving as the principal opposition spokesman for Scotland in the Shadow Cabinet from 1993-1997, he was a key player on the road to devolution. After Labourâ€™s win in the 1997 general election, Prime Minister Tony Blair appointed him Defence Secretary, a position he held for two years before being appointed the 10th Secretary General of NATO in 1999.
Shortly afterwards he received a life peerage, taking the title Lord Robertson of Port Ellen. A married father-of-three, he is a former chairman of the Scottish Labour Party, was vice-chairman of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, served as vice-chairman of the British Council for nine years and for seven years was on the Council of the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) where he now serves as joint president. Lord Robertson is an exceptionally well-read man, with a passion for photography and golf. He holds several honorary doctorates, both from Scottish universities and from abroad.
This story was published with kind permission of the Ileach local newspaper.