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Statement from Rt Hon. Don McKinnon on his appointment as Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order

Source: Don McKinnon
Don McKinnon
Don McKinnon

The Rt Hon Don McKinnon today said he was delighted to accept the Queen’s gift of a knighthood, announced on Commonwealth Day (9 March).
The Queen announced from London that she has appointed Don McKinnon, as Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO) in recognition of his outstanding service as Secretary-General of the Commonwealth.  Awards in the Royal Victorian Order are made personally by The Queen for services to the Sovereign.
"The Queen's gift of a knighthood is a great honour and also acknowledges the many people who have worked with me and supported me during my tenure as Commonwealth Secretary-General," he said.
"I was always conscious of my good fortune in working for The Queen, in her role as Head of the Commonwealth, given her in-depth and unique knowledge of the organisation. Meeting and discussing Commonwealth matters with her was always a pleasure. This personal recognition is a great honour,” Don McKinnon said.
Don McKinnon was Secretary-General of the Commonwealth for two terms, from 2000 - 2008. The Secretary-General is responsible for developing and promoting Commonwealth-wide programmes that reflect the Commonwealth’s values.
Don McKinnon said he had enjoyed enormously the role of Secretary-General, despite its daily demands and pressures.
“The pleasure of making gains, no matter how small or large, for the peoples of the Commonwealth far outweighed the difficulties that came with a job of its complexity. There was not a day without challenges and also not a day without opportunities and optimism for the future of the Commonwealth.
“On a personal level I have gained many friends at all levels that I continue to admire and respect, and countless experiences and memories, both happy and sad.” 
Don McKinnon paid tribute to his family: "All my family have given me so much encouragement and support, and no one more than my wife Clare. She made a new life and friends for us in London, brought a fresh approach to the role of political/diplomatic spouse, took on her own causes and worked happily and successfully for them.  And she ensured a normal family life for our son James. I wish my parents and mother-in-law were still alive to share in this excitement, knowing how pleased and proud they too would have been."
"The announcement of this honour, just ten days after being invested with the Order of New Zealand, is quite overwhelming.”
He also paid tribute to his former Commonwealth Secretariat staff who worked on many development and economic issues and supported him in his work over eight years. 
"They are drawn from many disparate countries, cultures, faiths and races but united in the cause of justice, equality and the elimination of poverty. I couldn't have asked for better people, many of them the brightest and best from their countries.
"In these tough times, it's great to have something to celebrate and I feel I have an embarrassment of riches. But millions of people throughout the Commonwealth are, by contrast, locked into poverty, with bleak prospects of enjoying any sort of wealth.
“They are counting on all of us right now to remember them when we are deciding how best to protect ourselves from the brunt of economic hardship. If we can give people a chance for education and opportunities, we will see many bright talents emerge to work for the benefit of their countries, and take up positions of leadership in the wider Commonwealth,” he said.

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