Remise de l’ordre national du mérite à M. Gerald Henderson
Remise de l’ordre national du mérite à M. Gerald Henderson,
Consul honoraire de France à Port Elizabeth
Port Elizabeth, 23 juin 2011
Mme la Conseillère à l’Assemblée des Français de l’étranger, chère Sophie
Honorary Consuls, dear colleagues
M. leDirecteur de l’Alliance française, Cher Aurélien,
M. le Consul Honoraire de France, Cher Gérard,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Good evening and welcome to the Alliance française in Port Elizabeth.
We are here today for a very special occasion. In a few minutes I will bestow upon Mr Gerald Henderson the Medal of Chevalier de l’Ordre national du Mérite.
For those of you who don’t know, l’Ordre national du Mérite is one of the most prestigious French medals. It was established in 1963 by General de Gaulle to distinguish French citizens and foreign citizens for serving our country or contributing to its interests.
You were born in Rodesia, but early in your life your family settled in this region of the Eastern Cape where you studied and graduated from the prestigious University of Rhodes. You then joined the automotive industry where you spent most of your career in several companies. None of them were French actually, so it is not through your work that you came to know France.
It is through your love of French language –le français que vous parlez si bien et avec tant de plaisir. You indeed joined the Alliance française first as a student in 1975 ; a very good student I have to say to the point that you graduated in 1987 with a Diplome de langue française.
You then joined the board of the Alliance française in 1989, first as vice-President, and in 1991, as President, a position you held for many years. And I can say with certainty that you contributed a lot to establishing the successful and vibrant organization the Alliance française of Port Elizabeth is today, working closely with the different directors and board members and promoting with passion our beloved French language.
But as if this was not enough a contribution to France, you became in 1995 the director for the local French organization whose goal is to welcome the French citizens to Port Elizabeth and assist those in need.
In 1993, the French government decided to appoint you as honorary consul of France in Port Elizabeth, a position you hold to this day.
In that capacity, you have displayed your talent and your great qualities. I have known you for two years now and I have appreciated your sense of duty, your dedication, your competence and professionalism. You fulfill these demanding consular tasks without sparing your time and your efforts in order to achieve this mission.
You bring tremendous support to French citizens established in Port Elizabeth and French tourists visiting the region, making yourself available to help, to find solutions for everyone, and you do that with great compassion and a big heart. But now you will have to slow a bit and spare it. We want to keep you for many more years !
I also want to acknowledge your role as representative of France towards local authorities and South African citizens who want to travel or do business with France. We have in you a fantastic Ambassador of our country.
So, for all this merits, it is now my great pleasure and privilege to bestow upon you the medal of Chevalier de l’Ordre national du mérite.
Pour ces motifs et en raison des mérites qui vous sont reconnus, M. Gerald Henderson, Au nom du President de la République, nous vous remettons les insignes de Chevalier dans l’Ordre national du mérite.