MICHAEL HENDERSON, English journalist, broadcaster and author of twelve books has lived for more than 15 years in Westward Ho! North Devon; before that having been 21 years in Portland , Oregon. He also has Irish citizenship
He has addressed groups around the world as varied as the Rotary clubs of London, New Delhi and Rabaul, New Guinea; the English-Speaking Union branches of Moscow and St Petersburg, New York and Washington, DC, and London; the World Affairs Councils of San Antonio, Texas and Brattleboro, Vermont; the annual meeting of the Governors General of the Caribbean as well as in Parliament House, Canberra, and in the House of Commons. In the past 15 years he has spoken to dozens of audiences in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
In 2007 he spoke at the Edinburgh Festival of Spirituality, in 2009 at the Parliament of World’s Religions in Melbourne, Australia and in 2010 at the Munich International Peace Conference. In 2010 he was also inducted as a member of the Council for Dignity, Forgiveness, Justice and Reconciliation of the Italian Ara Pacis Initiative.
While in the United States he contributed articles to newspapers and journals all over the country, did more than 1,000 radio talks and was presenter for commercial, public and cable TV programs. In Oregon he was president of the World Affairs Council, of the English-Speaking Union, and of Willamette Writers, and on the board of the United Nations Association.
He was co-founder of Oregon Uniting, a work for racial understanding and a prime instigator of Oregon’s 1999 Day of Acknowledgement of earlier racial exclusion. He has spoken throughout the United States to many organizations, church groups, university departments and service clubs.
His latest books are The Adventures of Angy, a Red Cross Nurse in Mons (2015) and Ice in Every Carriage: An Extraordinary Asian Journey – 1952-53 with a foreword by Rajmohan Gandhi (2010). Other books, include No Enemy To Conquer – Forgiveness in An Unforgiving World (2009) which has a foreword by the Dalai Lama, Forgiveness: Breaking the Chain of Hate (2002) which has been strongly endorsed by Archbishop Tutu and has also been published in Russian and in German and All Her Paths Are Peace – Women Pioneers in Peacemaking (1994) in Chinese. His books have been launched at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, DC, and at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London . He is author of chapters on Initiatives of Change in Positive Approaches to Peacebuilding (2003), in People Building Peace II: Successful Stories of Civil Society (2005; and Media Values (2010). A Great Gamble - Turning Enemies into Friends contains six radio broadcasts made in 2006 on Radio Dawn, Nottingham, with a foreword by Imam Musharaff Hussain.
Michael’s book See You After the Duration - the Story of British Evacuees to North America in World War II (2005) has a foreword by the historian the late Sir Martin Gilbert. It was launched at Dartmouth House, London headquarters of the English-Speaking Union (ESU). He was on the committee of the ESU Sea Vac Project which was set up to collect memories and stories from people who were evacuated to the US for safety between 1939 and 1945. Michael, with his brother Gerald, was one of more than three thousand British children evacuated then to the United States. living five years in Milton, Mass. He has written and spoken widely on this wartime experience. He has a chapter on the subject in Children: the Invisible Victims of War (2008) and in a number of issues of The Journal of War Child Studies. In 2011 he was one of the panellists at an event evaluating the experience organised by the Pilgrim Society and held at Dartmouth House.
For the 70th anniversary of VE Day he was interviewed by BBC Devon (See full interview) .
Headmaster Fred Williams, making the award, said, 'In a world too full of hatred and animosity, Michael Henderson has distinguished himself for his efforts to promote reconciliation and encourage forgiveness. He has written about this in his many titles and his accounts of forgiveness in “No Enemy to Conquer” will bring one to tears. In this book he speaks of horrible situations of personal loss and civil disunion. Yet in the darkest moments and deepest disputes, he tells of individuals who had the strength to confront the enemy and work to reconcile, not destroy. His message tells us that reaching out to those who are in conflict with, while not without cost, offers personal and social healing rather than increased body count and perpetual mourning.
'For 50 years Michael has been associated with Moral Re-Armament, now known as Initiatives of Change. This global organization is dedicated to peace building, conflict transformation, and forging partnerships across divides of race, class, religion and politics.
'Rectory’s Distinguished Service Award is presented annually to that member of the Rectory community, be he or she graduate, employee, or friend of the school, who has embraced across a career or a lifetime the four words that comprise the Rectory creed: Respect, responsibility, honesty and compassion. This alumni gathering marks the 70th reunion for tonight’s recipient, and its clear time has done nothing but strengthen this gentleman’s resolve to embrace Rectory’s ideals as set forth by Mr John (John Bigelow, former headmaster) himself.'
He has been a member of Britain’s Chartered Institute of Journalists since 1963 and was on its London District Committee. He is a member of the London Press Club, of the International Communications Forum, of the English-Speaking Union and of The Pilgrims. In the United States he was a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. He has been for more than 50 years associated with Initiatives of Change and was for 20 years on its US board and 35 years on its British Council of Management.
He is the author of words of many songs and was the co-author of three musical revues including GB which ran in London’s West End. As a teenager he worked backstage on Broadway and in Hollywood, later acting in 25 plays in a dozen countries. He has been producer or script writer of videos and done voice-overs for films and videos. He speaks French and German. Awards for his writing and speaking in the United States include three George Washington Honor Medals from the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge.
He went to school at Durston House in Ealing and Ripley Court in Surrey before he was evacuated to the United States where he attended Milton Academy Junior School and the Rectory School, Pomfret, Connecticut. Returning to England he went to the Hall School, Hampstead and Mill Hill School. He is a Life Guardian of Mill Hill School and was for 10 years Southwest Secretary of the Old Millhillians Club. He is a keen sportsman, having played soccer and ice hockey until he was 60, is playing veteran tennis and was a member of the Devon 75-year-old team. In 2012 he was a semi-finalist in the national 80-year-old doubles tennis championships.
He has been married to Erica for 49 years and they have one daughter Juliet, who taught Spanish at Westridge School, Pasadena, California, for eight years and is now on the faculty at The Hotchkiss School, Connecticut, a daughter-in-law, Stephanie, and two granddaughters, Lola and Lucy. Erica is listed in the Guinness World Records as 'The oldest stem cell donor who, at 74 years of age, donated cells to treat her younger brother Paul, 69, who suffered from leukaemia'.