AMAR’s Patron, His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, helped the charity to bring its Silver Anniversary year to a spectacular close.
Prince Charles spent more than 90 minutes meeting 160 supporters, donors and trustees at a glittering reception held at Lancaster House in London’s historic St James’ quarter.
Staff from both Iraq and London guided the guests through four rooms dedicated to AMAR’s history and emergency work, its current education and training programmes, and its projects combatting religious tolerance.
From there, all guests were invited into Lancaster House’s Music Room – an architectural gem – to enjoy light refreshments and await the Prince’s arrival.
After being greeted by AMAR’s Chairman, Baroness Nicholson, together with Vice Chairman of the AMAR International Board, Damon Parker, and fellow Trustee, The Rt Rev Alastair Redfern, the Lord Bishop of Derby, HRH was introduced to Iraqi field staff.
Led by the charity’s Iraq General Director, Dr Ali Muthanna, the Prince was escorted around the exhibition rooms, created by leading architects, Mixity Design.
AMAR has been leading the campaign for world recognition of the Yazidi faith, and the Prince joined a panel discussing the latest on the situation.
Chaired by the Lord Bishop of Derby, the meeting was attended by senior figures representing many faiths, including Muslims, Christians, Mandaeans, Yazidis, and Mormons. Nehad Barakat, an 18-year-old Yazidi girl, who was kidnapped by ISIS before escaping after several months of captivity, also attended the meeting and was able to brief the Prince.
Following his arrival in the Music Room, HRH greeted supporters, including those representing Zain, the Al Burhan Group, the Charchafchi family, ROO/BP, Shell, the Vitol Foundation, Chevron, Hadi and Cihan Nazir, and CCC.
The Prince also spoke to members of the AMAR US Board and the Utah Circle before being introduced to former AMAR Senior Photographer, Angus Beaton.
Angus spent more than a decade with the charity, and his spectacular images from his work in Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan and Kashmir, are now captured in a book entitled Rebuilding Lives – AMAR’s motto. He presented a specially bound volume to the Prince.
A choir of children from the Kensington Primary School in East London charmed both the Prince and guests with a variety of songs, including a special rendition of Happy Birthday for AMAR. The choir takes part in the annual Water City Festival, run by another leading AMAR supporter, the virtuoso violinist, Michael Bochmann.
Speaking at the event, HRH told the guests that he was “extremely proud” of being AMAR’s Patron for the last 13 years.
“I can only say that I know what a great deal there is to celebrate after all these years of quite extraordinary achievements (by AMAR). Indeed, astonishingly, during the past twenty-five years over ten million people in Iraq, Lebanon, Iran and Pakistan have been able to benefit from the healthcare facilities made available through AMAR, with many more benefitting from the educational opportunities that AMAR provides,” said the Prince.
He added: “I am sure you will all agree that the scale of AMAR’s reach is profoundly impressive but, if I may say so, it is the ethos at the core of AMAR’s work which is the most impressive thing of all- even in the most desperate and heart-breaking situations, where conflict has shattered lives and persecution has wrenched societies apart.”
“AMAR has always maintained an unwavering faith in the future. It has not let itself be drawn into the complex causes of past miseries, but has instead focussed on the ‘here and now’ in order to help ordinary people rebuild their lives and regain the confidence that those lives are worth living. And what is more, it has done all of this by harnessing the talent and determination of doctors, nurses and teachers within these countries who, between them, hold the keys to a better future.”
The Prince paid a special tribute to Baroness Nicholson “whose indefatigable leadership and extraordinary professionalism has been so crucially important to this endeavour for so many years.”
Later, HRH presented a series of special scrolls thanking leading staff and supporters for their contribution to AMAR’s success.
They were: Mr Mohammed Charchafchi, whose wife, Mrs Rajhan Ghalib Charchafchi, collected the award on his behalf; Mr Ali Al-Zahid, Zain Iraq; Mr Hans Nijkamp, Shell; Ms Sharon Eubank, LDS Charities; The Hon Diar Yousif, Grandson of the Prince of the Yazidis; Miss Nehad Barakat, Yazidi survivor; Mr Rasmi Al Jabri, IBBC; Christophe Michels, IBBC; Mr Safi Hamzah Majeed, AMAR Iraq; and Dr Ali Muthanna.
There was a huge surprise for Dr Ali moments later, when the former Liverpool and England International goalkeeper, Ray Clemence, was introduced to the audience.
Dr Ali, a lifelong Liverpool fan, was presented with a rare shirt signed by all the players who were in the team that won the 2005 European Champions League Final.