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.

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