Friday, November 17, 2006

Presentation of Duncan's book at the Hungarian Institute of Paris

It'll take me a bit to get the pictures up associated with this post... Thanks for your patience...

Sent to me by Sabine Fazekas and Florence Labruyere

7 novembre 2006

Soirée littéraire à l’Institut hongrois de Paris
(Literary evening at the Hungarian Cultural Institute in Paris)

Photo (coming soon):
From RIGHT to LEFT (de DROITE à gauche):
Adam Biro, publisher (Biro Editions)
Jean-François Bouthors, Duncan’s publisher (Buchet-Chastel)
Florence La Bruyère (translator)
Karoly Kecskeméti, historian (moderator of the debate)
Phil Casoar, writer (Les héros de Budapest)
André Farkas, writer (Budapest, la tragédie telle que je l’ai vécue)
Henri-Christian Giraud, writer (Le printemps en octobre, une histoire de la révolution hongroise)
A participant standing for the historian Nicolas Bauquet, author of a book on Budapest, 1956

The round table was chaired by historian Karoly Kecskeméti who as a young student of literature was himself involved in the Hungarian revolution.

The various writers gave a fascinating insight on history. Through Henri-Christian Giraud, who has devoted 20 years of his life to researching the revolution, we learnt that Russian additional troops and tanks moved into Hungary as early as…October 23rd ! It is therefore clear that the Kremlin had decided at a very early stage to crush the uprising and only waited a little to launch the assault on the 4th of November.

André Farkas, a young reporter in 1956, described how the revolutionaries managed to introduce an immediate decentralisation in the country. In Miskolc and in other towns, workers’ councils were established without waiting for instructions from the capital.
Phil Casoar spoke about all those extremely young workers, employed in factories who came from a very poor background and were the real “soldiers” of the revolution. They were even ready to fight against…own members of their family who stood on the other side, he said.

And Karoly Kecskeméti outlined how Duncan Shiels unveiled new aspects of the pre – revolution days. One example of it was the way Duncan described Julia Rajk fighting for the rehabilitation of her husband. This had not been written before, he said. Jean-François read out an excerpt of the book where Julia bravely addresses members of the infamous Communist Party : “Not only did you kill my husband but you also kill all dignity on this country”.

Soon we will post the speech Florence gave on Duncan.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Duncan Shiels Memorial Football Match

This message comes from Attila Ledenyi:

Duncan's match on Sunday, 19 November, will be at 12 noon on a pitch near Kelenfoldi Palyaudvar, a one-minute walk from the station, on the left hand side from the underpath.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

18 November - details - RSVP!

Dear friends,

We have finally confirmed the location for the memorial evening in Budapest,
the celebration of Duncan's life here -

It will take place at the Feszek Club - in the restaurant (just to the right, when you enter the building).
The address:
Kertesz u. 36.
(at the corner of Dob u.)
VII. district
You can also take a look at:

We will start the evening from 7 p.m.,
with tributes to begin from 8 p.m.,
and we can stay as long as we like.

The basic elements will be:
a cold buffet and a welcome drink included
(if anyone would like something additionally,
it will be a la carte, to be paid separately)
additional drinks to be paid separately;

screening of film and photo material
(please let us know if you have anything you would like to contribute to this -
by Wednesday, 15 November)

tributes to Duncan's life and memory -
in the form of speech, readings, song, or anything else -
PLEASE let us know as soon as possible -
until Wednesday, 15 November -
if you would like to contribute to this
(there will be interpretation between English and Hungarian)

following the tributes,
the party will begin, with music,
both recorded music, and we hope more than one live musical performance -
and the opportunity for dancing -

For the rental of the space, the rental of equipment,
music, cold buffet and one welcome drink,
we would like to ask for a contribution of HUF 2500 per person.

We would also like to ask for RSVP by Wednesday, 15 November,
as we need to have some idea of how much food and drink we need...

Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions,
if you need further information, and especially
if you would like to contribute to the evening in any way.

One additional event in the planning for the weekend
is a Duncan Shiels Memorial football match -
with a preliminary plan for late morning, Sunday, 19 November -
more information on that to come.

with thanks,
looking forward to seeing you all on Saturday,

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Duncan in Beirut

Katalin Kluge sent me this picture of Nick and Duncan which Duncan sent to her from Beirut, Lebanon last year (October 2006).

Andrew Sheils' Eulogy

The 1st of November day had clear blue skys as if Duncan was still bringing sunshine into our lives. Around 50 family and friends attended Duncan's funeral and most commented it was a very Duncan event. We celebrated his life at a reception afterwards and socialized, Duncan was certainly there chinking glass with his friends.

Mum and myself would like to give a heart felt thanks to all those that could make it, and especially all those that couldn't be here and took the trouble to send such lovely messages.

If anyone would like to make a donation to Cancer Research UK in memory of Duncan, you are ivited to send it to:

C/o Derby and District Funeral Service,
Unit 4a Park Farm Centre,
Allestree, Derby, DE22 2OJ
Tel: 01332550033

The following is my tribute to Duncan.

Andrew Shiels


Duncan Shiels

The gift of friendship, generosity, openness, professionalism, competitive and intellectually curious were some of the many tributes paid to Duncan by many friends, colleagues and students from many parts of the world.

You knew Duncan in his adult life firstly as a teacher of English, Singer (nearly), Lyricist, Actor, Journalist and Author, and it was fitting that in the last years of his working life he went back to teaching with the Reuters Foundation where he used these qualities to the full.

To me of course, he was a brother, and to understand Duncan's journey in life we must acknowledge he was first a son to Clarice and the late John Shiels.
We were both adopted sons, and proud to be so, the knowledge of this was one of Duncan's earliest memories which I believe introduced a degree of openness and honesty to his early years. Mum came from a Derbyshire family, down to earth and pragmatic, Duncan learnt from her, whatever happened, to pick himself up, brush himself down and start again. I feel sure this was the start to his eternal positive nature. Mum recalls a story of how at the school sports day he said "Mum I don't want to run the race because I know I'll come last" She replied "it doesn't matter where you come as long as you take part". Duncan always took part, often with a passion; one only has to recall his political debates. He later wrote in his note book "I did come last and I didn't like it". The true nature of his competitiveness was to show later in his life on the football field.

Dad was a man of integrity and I can here him speaking to Duncan now "If a job's worth doing, its worth doing properly" Duncan always immersed himself completely into everything he did. The energy and focus he produced to complete his book was evidence of his determined nature to do everything to the best of his ability. So from these early messages he developed into the man we all knew and remember.

The family knew at a very early age Duncan would always do things Duncan's way, a complete individual. In 1958, at the age of 5years old he started school. Only Duncan would develop a technique of walking backwards to school and back.

As children Duncan and myself had the usual sibling quarrels, I still have a scar to show for it, but as adults even though we often had differing political views, we never fell out and I often felt it was largely due to Duncan's generosity of spirit. I was, however, guilty of a considerable sin, I wasn't really interested in football. Fortunately Evan, his nephew and football buddy, continues Duncan's passion for the game and his beloved Nottingham Forest.

Many of Duncan's friends remember that he had the uncanny knack of being in the right place at the time. I remember Duncan backpacking around India and bumping into David Lean filming ‘A Passage to India'. Within an hour he was recruited to be the stand-in for Sir Alec Guiness. While in full make-up and costume, he thought nothing of spending the days and weeks playing cards with the premier league of British acting. It was perfectly natural thing to do for Duncan. Later in life though I began to understand wherever Duncan was, his optimism made it the right place, and his spirit made it the right time.

That spirit was still with him in the last weeks of his life. He faced his imminent death with courage and dignity. There was always a smile, friendship and optimism. He never complained or asked why me? Typically Duncan managed to help everyone else to come to terms with his illness.

If Duncan were here today I am certain he would be slightly irritated at many of the tributes paid, he was a modest man, and he didn't need much. One of Duncan's closest friends said "Duncan didn't collect possessions, he collected friends".
We all have our own special memories of Duncan and we will miss him. He did manage to achieve much in a relatively short life and his sense of humour had an important support role throughout. I do remember the time he told me he had managed to get his book published, I can't remember him happier, when he eventually held a copy in his hand at the Barbican event, I could sense the joy that he had just made it in the end.

I will miss him popping up out of the blue sharing his new adventures, projects and friendships.

I will miss the phone call, hearing the warm, friendly and slightly elongated "Hi, its Duncan here".

Andrew Shiels

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Tributes from Reuters Foundation friends

Nick Kotch - Reuters Foundation trainer - South Africa
Duncan Shiels died on 19 October, in a hospice in England. He had been fighting cancer but it became inoperable. Those of you who were at the Aid versus Trade course in July noticed how thin and weak Duncan had become. It was not a subject we could easily talk about as a group but I expect that, like me, you were struck by his strong spirit and his great professionalism. His demonstration of those qualities left a great impression on me and I understand from Jo Weir at the Reuters Foundation in London that he showed the same strength in his last days. He was able to finish his book about the Hungarian Uprising and was present -- in a wheelchair and with a drip -- to hear a famous British actress called Susannah Yorke read excerpts at a function in London. Although Duncan and I had known each other for a few years, mostly thanks to the smoking room at the Reuters news headquarters in London, we only became friends through the training workshops we did with you in Nairobi. During those weeks I grew to admire him as a excellent teacher -- patient and generous -- and as an excellent journalist -- sceptical and clear-thinking. I am sure that most of the participants at the workshops he ran around the world had similar feelings about him. You will remember that he had barely any experience of Africa before we met in Nairobi in 2005 and 2006. But he was strongly attracted to the continent and I feel very sad that we won't be able to invite him back, to help shed light on the issues that concern us. I have no funeral details yet but if any of you wishes to send a message to his family and friends you are invited to do so.

Duncan Miriri ex-Reuters Foundation participant - Kenya
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.

Paul Ilado ex-Reuters Foundation participant - Kenya
What! This is so sad. To Nick and all my colleagues I must say that I actually had a personal chat with Duncan just before we concluded our Aid/trade workshop. It was a very difficult and painful conversation but I was very curious to find out what was happening in his life. It took a lot for him to tell me that he was fighting cancer. I was so amazed by his spirit and attitude. Duncan was determined to live longer. He loved his Job and wanted to do more. On that we shared a lot and I’m sure all of you got something out of him.
Let us join his family and friends in prayer/ Nick and or Belen please pass this poem I wrote to his family.
Duncan God looked around his Garden and found an empty place. He then looked down upon his earth and saw your loving face.
He put his arms around you and lifted you to rest. His Garden must be beautiful, he always takes the best.
He knew that you were suffering Duncan, he knew you were in pain. And knew that you would never get well on earth again.
He saw your path was difficult, he closed you tired eyes, He whispered to you "Peace be Thine" and gave you wings to fly.
You've left us precious memories, your love will be our guide, Duncan you're always by our side.
It broke our hearts to lose you, but you did not go alone. For part of us went with you on the day God called you home.
Rest in Peace Duncan.

Sunil Raghu ex-Reuters Foundation participant - India
This is really sad. I loved Duncan's class and remember every word he taught us, as we both loved the Energy sector dearly. He infact helped me with a story I did in India after the course and put me in touch with the guys in the field of Carbon trading. I sincerely pray to god for him and may his soul rest in peace. Please convey my sincere regards and condolences to his family. May they get all the strength to overcome this irreparable loss. I can understand their pain as I had lost my father few years back but still feel his absence at times.
Ramnath Subbaraman ex-Reuters Foundation participant - India
It is a sad news indeed. Even though nearly two years have passed since our course, the memory is still so fresh, and thus the loss so heavy. I am sure all of us in our class would fondly remember not only his session on energy news, but also the good time we had in the pub nearby and at Reuters headquarters on the final day. Let's pray to God for his soul to rest in peace.

Pavel Stefanishin ex-Reuters Foundation participant - Moldova
Thank you very much for the sad note. I can hardly believe Duncan is no longer with us. He was so vivacious. I liked his petrolium industry course best to be honest. He had just the right approach to his audience and captured my attention from the beginning. I exchanged few a words with him outside the class. What a great guy he was. I would like to extend my condolences to his family, friends and colleagues at Reuters. It is terrible loss. And such an untimely one. I deeply grieve along with you and my fellow Reuter students.

Jan Flemr ex-Reuters Foundation participant - Czech Republic
Sad news, indeed. He did teach us emission trading basics and I remember I enjoyed his session very much. I think it was one of the most useful classes, actually - my colleague Lenka and I take turns covering this topic as we have both felt obliged to use what he taught us (and thanks to Duncan we were also the only ones in the export desk who knew what emission trading is about when the issue became topical in our country two years ago).

Fred Masiga ex-Reuters Foundation participant - Uganda
That is very sad indeed.I personally remained in touch with him a couple of times...My condolences to the family.
Louis Ibah ex-Reuters Foundation participant - NigeriaIts really a sad news; a big loss to the Reuters Family which included all of us who have passed through the 'Writing Business News' course.I just read his 'brief' biodata- what a simple man! In a contemporary world defined by capitalist materialism, I am humbled by his modest life style - his apporach to material things was stunning. Yet he accomplsihed so much by affecting all who came in contact with him. I am happy that he lived his life to the full and i know he must have died fulfilled. Its a big lesson to all of us. I pray God gives his family the fortitude to bear the loss. And may his soul rest in perfect peace.

Eric Toroka ex-Reuters Foundation participant-Tanzania
I'm really shocked from the news that Duncan has passed away. I' ll always remember him especially during his session on energy news.Lets God Rest his Soul In Peace!
Henry Lutaaya ex-Reuters Foundation participant- UgandaIt's extremely sad that we are now talking about the death of our own Duncan. I was and still am so shocked that Duncan has left this world. But I am equally grateful to God for he gave him great spirit, strength, love, intelligence that allowed him to impart so much wisdom in us during the last Aid Vs Trade course in July in Nairobi. Some and I believe all of us who didn't know of his condition, would never have thought he was a cancer patient. He was full of energy. May his soul rest in eternal peace.

Arthur Asiimwe - Reuters stringer Rwanda
This is shocking news! I missed the last Aid vs Trade training because of a heavy schedule on my part and so I missed out on seeing Duncan again. But I was planning to be in London this December and one of who the people I was planning to see was Duncan!! I can't believe I will not see him again. I will remember Duncan for the great words of inspiration and advice he gave me especially in moving my career foreward with Reuters!! And belive me, his advice is working. May the almighty God rest Duncan's Soul in peace. My sincere condolences to friends, students and above all the family of Duncan. I will make sure I look for his book to keep it as a souvenir!!

Mernat Mafirakurewa ex-Reuters Foundation participant - Zimbabwe
It is with deep shock that I receive the news of the passing on of Duncan Shiels. It is painful for me to admit that that is the reality.
I still rember his interest in knowing what was happening in my country(Zimbabwe) and it was again my hope that he would have a chance to visit. Let's however mourn with hope, knowing fully well that he has gone to his resting place where all of us would one day follow.
Never at one time when we were in Nairobi did I ever link his body to cancer, to me he never looked sick at all. How I wish he could have lived a little longer and maybe we could have had a chance to say goodbye.
Pass my deepest condolence to the his family and may they know that they are not alone in this dark hour. The impact he has had in my life is incredible.May his Soul Rest in Peace.
Kingsley Kaswende ex-Reuters Foundation participant-Zambia
Thanks for letting us know. Im truly, deeply shocked about the death of one of the best journalists and teachers. I first met with you and Duncan in Nairobi during the Aid vs Trade in July. During that oneweek, I learnt a lot of things from both of you. We talked a lot about ourcountries and the journalism profession.
Duncan had a very good sense of humour but what I admired much about him was his love for the profession. He had such an urgency for detail in ourwork and kept encouraging us. He was simply a good teacher. Duncan kept encouraging me to grow my career. His parting words to me on the last evening were:"You have greatpotential. Work hard." I'll remember these words.I'm really lost for words. Please convey my deepest sympathy to the Shiels family and Reuters Foundation. I am mourning with them. May his soul rest in eternal peace.

William Rasoanaivo ex-Reuters Foundation participant- Madagascar
This is shocking news. I don't have the words. I just want to say how sorry I am. I really appreciated these Nairobi days. I was the last to live the hostel and on a Sunday, Duncan who was already away took the time to give me a call to ensure whether I was fine and to give me tips on things I could do and places I could visit if I ever got bored. It was very comforting. Indeed, what a wonderful spirit. Something which really emulates me, now.I need time to assess all this so I come back later.All my sympathy to his family.

Jacques Junior SCHULE ex-Reuters Foundation participant- Cameroon
I feel very sad to know that, Duncan Shiels is no more! I still remember when he used to call me Jaaaaaaaaaaack!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And enjoyable moments spent with him! Yes indeed, we were struck by his strong spirit and great professionalism. It was difficult to link his physical aspect to any illness. Anyway, we'll keep alive his spirit of professionalism.