Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Duncan Shiels - footballer

I was very sad to hear of Duncan's passing.

Attached please find a photo of a Budapest expat football team from 1996.

This team featured Duncan in his favourite roving centre forward role.

We played every Saturday afternoon rain or shine at Margit Sziget before moving on to Orszy Kert at Nagyvarad Ter.

I have many fond memories of that time, our games and the Korsos in the bar afterwards.

Best regards

Mark Harrower

English teacher

Budapest 1995-1998

now in Abu Dhabi

Duncan - remembered with a smile

It was a given among Duncan’s friends that you could drop him into any café, anywhere in the world, and within 20 minutes he would know the barman’s life story and be treated like a local. Both gregarious and compassionate, he made friends effortlessly. But Duncan was also a very private and independent man, with many facets to his character. Conversations could leap from the musical he had written to the fortunes of his beloved Nottingham Forest with genuine interest in what others were doing in-between.

Writer, historian and travel guide, Duncan was a troubadour of our time. Always creating, exploring, enthusiastic, he was both interesting and interested. Even at the end. At his book launch, barely a month ago, he still had time for others. One minute charming the actress Susannah York (who had read extracts from his book), the next making sure the nurse who accompanied him had a drink and was enjoying herself.

I hope it’s some comfort to his family and friends to know that around the world, there are hundreds like me who are thinking of Duncan Shiels. And always with a smile.

Martyn Bignold

Monday, October 30, 2006

HIPA Memorial for Duncan Postponed

The memorial organised by HIPA at the British Embassy will be postponed from 3 November, to coincide with our event on 18 November, in order to allow the most people to attend. The new date will most likely be either the 17th or 18th November, to be announced shortly.

With thanks for everyone's understanding,


Sunday, October 29, 2006

Duncan Memorial

Dear friends,

HIPA (Hungarian International Press Association) has organised a time and venue for a memorial service in memory of Duncan Shiels who, many of you know, recently passed away.

This will happen at 3:30 pm Friday November 3 at the British Embassy. We will have a hall on the ground floor adjacent to the Bank Hall. Anyone who knew Duncan is welcome and we hope to see many of you there.

Anyone wishing to attend must send me their name by Wednesday. Security rules require that all events have a guest list.

Please, please spread the word, along with my email address (chris.condon at ft dot com). Send emails with the subject line: Duncan - embassy

Also, please contact me if you wish to help organise this event - or simply to offer a suggestion on what we should include in the event. At this point we have merely taken the initiative to organise a place and time for friends and colleagues to come together to remember Duncan. Perhaps it would be best if those who knew Duncan best made some suggestions on what kind of event takes place.

This invitation for suggestions applies, as well, for good friends who cannot attend the event but might know what would be appropriate.

Also please understand that this event is not meant to supplant anything else that might be in the works here in Budapest. Just consider it another chance to honour Duncan's accomplishments and remember his friendship.


Chris Condon

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Details of Duncan's Funeral

Date- Wednesday 1st November
Place- Markeaton Crematorium
Markeaton Lane
Derby DE22 4NH
Time- 11.20 in the morning
Arrangements- Family flowers only, donations to Cancer research uk
Reception- After the service there will be a reception to celebrate
Duncan's life the invitation extends to all family and friends who wish to attend.

Please contact Andrew and Cecilia Shiels to let the family know if you wish to attend.
UK 02089493960 or
andncec at blueyonder dot co dot uk
text- 07976617677 with your message

for maps and information
www.derby.gov.uk/CommunityLiving/Life Events/Deaths/Cremation or enter Markeaton Crematorium on Street Finder.Co.uk

Links to Obituaries

I originally posted these links on October 26, 2006.

Today is March 30, 2007. Adele Eisenstein recently informed me that the Budapest Sun reorganized its website. I am now updating these links.

On Oct. 26 I wrote "Duncan has twice been eulogized in the Budapest Sun this week."

Here's one by Robin Marshall: Pioneer Duncan Dies.

Here's one from the Sports section written by Andy Clark memorializing Ducan and his involvement with Szigeti Source, the football team: Founding member of Szigeti dies.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Duncan memorial/celebration in Budapest

dear friends of Duncan

just in brief for the moment
so that people can start planning
if they'd like to be here with us
in Budapest

we are planning a celebration of Duncan
especially for those who cannot be at the funeral

for the moment the concrete information is the date
Saturday 18 November 2006

more information coming soon

please get in touch if you feel you would like to contribute
in some way
to express your thoughts about Duncan
in whatever form you would like

with best wishes to all

Duncan's natural gift for friendship

Like all of his many friends, I am going to really miss Duncan. He was always pleased to meet and chat, always keen to make new friends, always had something new and interesting to talk about, always ready to listen and discuss, always up for some fun.

When I left London in 2000, Duncan continued to meet up with friends that I had introduced him to. Friends who had become his friends.

Every so often I would get an excited phone call from my local, the Dartmouth Arms near Tufnell Park, where Duncan, Monty, Martyn and Kristiina would be watching a football match on TV and having a few pints. I loved the fact that they were all still seeing each other long after I had moved away. And I loved that fact that they had thought to call me at that moment and say hello.

I first met Duncan in about 1996 when he was a Reuters correspondent in Budapest. I was working on the TV show Reuters Reports and Duncan was one of the first Reuters text correspondents who really understood how to make good television. With help from his Hungarian producer friend Kriszta Fenyo, Duncan filed some great stories from Budapest - including one which caused a diplomatic incident.

The caretaker of one of Hungary's most important and historic castles (a venue for high-level European summits and other state occasions) had been making a little extra cash by renting out the opulent state rooms to an Italian producer of erotic films. Promising that the Reuters footage would never be shown in Hungary, Duncan and his crew were allowed to film the filming of the Italian's latest pornographic masterpiece as naked actors writhed around on the silk sofas beneath crystal chandeliers. The Reuters TV report included a memorable piece-to-camera from our man in Budapest - a rather shocked looking Duncan Shiels - with his eye-witness account of the scene.

By the time Reuters TV had fed the story around the world, forgetting the all-important caveat "No access Hungary", we were all in trouble......

A year or so later, on my last day at Reuters, I was leaving 200 Grays Inn Road for the last time when who did I see walking in but Duncan for his first day's work at Reuters in London. We recognized each other as we entered the rotating glass doors, me going out and Duncan coming in, and immediately swapped phone numbers so we could keep in touch.

Despite London's sheer size, distance never seemed to be an issue with Duncan. He would cycle long distances across town to see his friends. And cycle home again - sometimes a little wobbly - after a night out in a restaurant or pub.

Duncan became a regular guest at my Dad's house in Gloucestershire, where I would assemble a disparate group of friends for weekends of swimming, country walks, large meals, trips to the pub and tennis. Duncan was always the life and soul of the party, eager to make new friends and have fun but also keen to talk about real issues including, of course, football (especially when it concerned his beloved Nottingham Forest).

It was here that we first witnessed Duncan's extraordinary tennis serve -- a lighting-fast left-armed wind up that dispatched a tennis ball which arced very slowly across the net. It seemed an extraordinary amount of energy for so little sting but he never veered from this self-taught stroke and if you weren't ready to receive it, he got mighty annoyed.

In fact the only place I ever saw Duncan lose his temper (apart from pub quiz nights at the Dartmouth Arms in London, but that's another story) was on the tennis court. He was driven by a will to win which didn't account for opponents who didn't take the game as seriously as he did.

That is the Duncan I will remember - fun-loving, smart, friendly, competitive, intellectually curious, a man with the wide smile and a friendly, open face. A man who liked to joke whilst challenging you at the same time.
I wasn't really prepared when I saw him at University College Hospital, the day before they transferred him to Princess Alice Hospice. He was so thin and looked so tired. He could only hold his head up for short periods. He shyly admitted to being in pain and when the nurse came in to give him more drugs he made a point of introducing us to each other. His natural gift for friendship and the pleasure he received from connecting people never left him, even in those final days.

We talked about all the fun times we had spent together, the friends we had made and our serendipitous meeting at Reuters …. everything but his illness. He was very excited about his book coming out and he even talked about maybe moving back to London. He had had a call from the Frankfurt Book Fair that morning saying a publisher was interested in translating the book into Dutch. Five language versions so far.

He told me his friends had been brilliant, calling in from all over the world.

As I left, both of us knowing we wouldn't see each other again, he gave me his best smile and that piercing Duncan look that said "We're good friends, you and me."

I was happy to be Duncan's friend. I'm going to miss him.

-- Dan Thomas (thomas_dan@msn.com)

Remembrance from Raj Rajendran

You could never get a comma in the wrong place or mix up your tenses when Duncan's on duty.

That's how I'll remember the best part of Shiels, the most rigorous and detailed sub there was—never one to let a shoddy copy on the wire but there was more to the man.

This I discovered not after spending about four years on the energy desk at Reuters with him in London but over the many pints we shared.

His moment in the spotlight getting on the big screen after stumbling on a movie shoot in India opposite (it was someone very famous…am sure someone can fill in the gap here), his meeting with Cloughie or the ambition he had on writing the book about the Rajk brothers. I am very happy to find out that he did achieve this.

Duncan's varied life always amazed me, from fronting that crazy band (which he made all of us listen), to his time on the Foundation and his youthful challenges on the footie pitch.

We always welcomed Duncan back from his regular trips to Hungary as it inevitably meant that there was a big fat slab of salami and fresh baguette on the common table.

It seems like only yesterday that we sat down for a few on his way out of Reuters plotting his new life in Budapest.

I will miss those chats and sadly as with many people we meet at points in our life and form strong momentary relationships, we typically fail to stay in touch but will always recall the time spent very fondly.

Duncan if anything I'll try to bring some of that zest for life you had into mine.

Raj Rajendran
News Editor, ICIS

Tel: +44 208 652 3102
Fax: +44 205 652 3929
website: www.icis.com

Monday, October 23, 2006

Tell people now...

Monica, I and our children have lived in Irvington, NY for about three and a half years now. It's close to Tarrytown, near the Tappan Zee Bridge over the Hudson River. I belong to the Y in Tarrytown. That's where I swim and work out a few times per week.

I was riding home tonight, thinking about Duncan and about the blog and about the unique group of people that are coming together as a result of Duncan's passing.

Now, I can't speak for anyone but myself but here's what I realized. The greater portion of my life has been lived in association with other people. Family, friends, lovers, children, strangers met while on vacation who've become periodic friends. So much of what I know, think, believe and pass along is received wisdom, received anecdote, received bon mot.

My life has been touched by so many people. I can remember so many fine social situations shared with others where I learned something about them, about myself and about life.

I am who I am in part because of my experiences with others. Most likely, this is not an original observation, however, our coming together over Duncan should impel each of us to think of the people who have meant something to us, who have influenced us.. and make sure they know how we feel while we're still alive.

Friends of Duncan Mailing LIst

I have setup a private googlegroup to handle 'mass mailings' to friends of Duncan. If you know of people who should be subscribed, please do so in the box at the top of this page or email me their email address(es). (I'm jfreeman at gmail dot com).



Duncan Tree

Duncan Tree
Duncan Tree
originally uploaded by varese.
Dear All,

I've been trying to send over a few pictures taken on Saturday in Taban next to Duncan's flat in Budapest, where we planted a tree to remind all of us of Duncan's eternally optimistic spirit: called Duncan Tree. Maybe one day in the forthcoming weeks - as we all said - we shall install a bench next to the tree to get a chance to sit out there and have a quiet chat with him....

Thanks for coming on Saturday. Although it was a slightly unusual "ceremony" I believe it still felt a moving and uplifting moment. I hope for those who couldn't make it but would've liked to be there - Saturday - the pictures will give a chance to share this little event with us and Duncan Tree.

Hopefully with Josh's help we'll be able to upload these pictures on the page shortly. The picture Duncan 043 is the block of flat where Duncan used to live and the balcony above the one where a person is sitting on used to be his balcony from where if he'd look out he would see the tree.

Unfortunately I do not have everybody's email addresses that were there Saturday. Can you please let them know that the pictures will be on the web page shortly.


Erika H. Szabo

Message from Kenyan journalist

This is a message from an ex-participant who was trained by Duncan in Nairobi.

I was saddened to learn of the death of Duncan Shiels. Please pass the following message to the family. I met Duncan on two occasions in Nairobi when he came to co-run a couple of Reuters Foundation courses which I participated in. I got the impression that he was an enthusiastic and dynamic journalist who inspired most of us on the course to push the limits in our professional lives. He taught us valuable skills in handling statistics. He answered our questions and encouraged us. And he had a keen sense of fun and humour which helped a great deal. I retain a song he wrote after the first course last year which I believe captures his attitude towards life and people. He composed it about the Nairobi course to be sang to the tune of Louis Armstrong's Wonderful World and sent it through to all of us who attended the course. At this difficult moment I am sure Duncan would want all of us who met him to celebrate his life and remember the moments he shared with us.
Duncan Miriri

A tribute to Duncan from Reuters

Duncan stayed afloat in Budapest by teaching English and stringing for The Daily Mail. He was a co-founder of the Hungarian International Press Association (HIPA), and that led him to Reuters. When then-Budapest chief correspondent Mitya New asked HIPA to recommend someone to work for Reuters, Duncan reflected for about half a second before nominating himself.

Duncan found an outlet for his lifelong wanderlust by offering his services to the Reuters Foundation for training that took him around the world. As recently as July he led a workshop in Nairobi with former Reuters Africa editorial chief Nick Kotch. Even then, his physical deterioration was apparent, Kotch writes, but he was struck by Duncan’s “strong spirit and his great professionalism”.

It was typical of Duncan that he circulated in several worlds at once and was involved in a variety of film and book projects over the years. The crowning achievement of his life, published in French this month, is a book on the Rajk brothers who played an influential role in Hungarian politics before, during and after World War II – from opposite sides of the political spectrum.
The last image many of his admirers will have of Duncan is his participation, in a wheelchair and on a drip, less than two weeks before he died in a roundtable at the Barbican where the actress Susannah Yorke read excerpts from his book.

“Duncan only had a little rented flat, a cellphone and a rucksack,” one of his friends from Budapest told Duncan’s older brother Andrew. “Duncan didn’t have any possessions, he went through his life collecting friends,” the friend added.

Duncan leaves his brother in Kingston Upon Thames and his mother, Clarice, who lives in Derby. A date for the funeral will be announced later.

by Michael Roddy

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Appreciation of Duncan from Tanzania

Jo Weir, a friend of Ducan's from the Reuters Foundation just sent me this email that had been sent to Nick Kotch at Reuters by a former student of Duncan's.

Duncan taught some journalism workshops in Africa as part of his work with the foundation.
Richard Mgamba attended two of these workshops.



Date: Sat, 21 Oct 2006 08:44:13 -0700 (PDT)
To: Nicholas Kotch

"And he said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: Jehovah gave, and Jehovah hath taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah.

With nothing I came out of my mother's body, and with nothing I will go back there; the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; let the Lord's name be praised. JOB 1:21"

To you Professor Nick Kotch, the great man from South Africa.

This is a special message to you, Reuters Foundation and the bereaved family of the Late Duncan Shiels.

I have finally recovered from the great shock I got in the morning of Saturday when the news about the death of our lecturer Duncan shiels came or appeared to my screen.

This evening I take this opportunity to join the family of the Late Shiels, Reuters Foundation, and all colleagues whose journalism capability was shaped by this great man from Hungary.

I still remember his humble behavior he showed us when he came to Nairobi two times to share with us his great experience and knowledge in journalism and global affairs.

I will nurture this man by developing and keeping all light and clear journalism principles, he taught me two times in Nairobi.

To the culture of my people-Maasai from northern Tanzania, my wife is pregnant and when she will deliver safely very soon, a baby boy, then that new comer will be named Duncan.

This is serious and it is a covenant I have made today. Let the Lord almighty give bless this covenant.

This man was a simple and humble person whose spirit and teachings will always dwell in my mind.

He has died but his spirit and teachings still dwell within our heart.

He was a friendly person who dedicated his time to help the needy Journalists like me and my colleagues from this dark continent of Africa.

I salute this man and let the almighty God put his souls in eternal peace and console his family during this tough moment.

In the name of the Lord Jesus, Amen.

Richard Mgamba
The Citizen Bureau Chief
Mwanza, Tanzania
Tel +255 784 841220


Friday, October 20, 2006

Duncan and ...?

originally uploaded by varese.
Duncan and ...?

Duncan in military vehicle

originally uploaded by varese.
Duncan in military vehicle

Duncan at Casa Tina in Paris, June, 2005

originally uploaded by varese.
Duncan at Casa Tina in Paris, June, 2005

Duncan in Paris, Jeu de Paume, June, 2005

originally uploaded by varese.
Ducan in Paris at Jeu De Paume, June 2005

Duncan and Katalin in Paris, April, 2005

originally uploaded by varese.
Duncan and Katalin in Paris, April, 2005

Duncan in Paris, June, 2005

originally uploaded by varese.
Maybe this isn't the BEST photo of the bunch I have so far.. ;-)

Duncan in Paris, April 2005

originally uploaded by varese.
This is a still from a short movie which I'll post separately.

Duncan in Paris, April, 2005

originally uploaded by varese.
Some people have sent me photos of Duncan. I have uploaded them to my flickr site. I will blog each one of them here. Eventually, I'll find a better way to add images to the site but this should do nicely for now.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

First post

This is Joshua. I just set up this site on the 'net to enable Duncan's friends to post their tributes and rememberances.

If you would like to post to this blog directly rather than through the comments interface please drop me a line (jfreeman at gmail dot com) and I'll send you an invitation to become a 'team member' of this blog.

The site is hosted on a little linux box in my basement that is not on a UPS at the moment but that does stay up MOST of the time. If you are ever looking for it and cannot find it please email me at jfreeman at gmail dot com or call me on +1 347 392 2560 and I'll see what the problem is.