I have been a father and a son, a brother and breadwinner, a lover and a partner; I have given respect and I have given nurture. I am defined more by these aspects of my personhood than by by roles, responsibilities, achievements and honours.
In 1972 I helped to convert an abandoned farmhouse on the estate of the Canevero Family in Certaldo near Firenze. We built a respite and refuge and an orphanage for children who lost their parents in Cholera outbreak in Napoli. This was the first assignment with Caritas as a volunteer. I stayed on after the children arrived and learned to be a caregiver.
During the peaceful transition from Franco’s Falangist dictatorship to constitutional monarchy in 1975 I worked as a volunteer with Caritas again to build a residential community in Tangel near Alicante; this time we built a holiday respite for children waiting for their parents to be discharged from prison.
In 1993 – 1995 I was a programme manager and country officer responsible for 27 capacity building, humanitarian and violence mitigation projects in South Africa during the transition from Apartheid to representative constitutional democracy. Some of my projects involved constitutional development funded by Olaf Palme Institute. Some of my projects involved voter recruitment, registration and education sponsored by Friederich Eburt Stiftung. Some of my institutional development projects were funded by UK Government in partnership with USAID. Some of my projects were local collaborations with South African National Civics Organisation, Save the Children and Coda International. In addition to governance, leadership and donor accountability, I contributed to building capacity with Police forces, local government structures and utility providers.
Among many other responsibilities I have been the post merger integration lead for the takeover of Compaq by Hewlett Packard to create the worlds biggest computer company; I have led major international projects for global businesses, transnational programmes for NATO, for Interpol, for the European Commission and for international NGOs.
During the conversion from national currencies to the Euro, I managed outsourced services for major banks across Europe. During the Year 2000 remediation period I managed preparation programmes for all the associated companies in the London Insurance Exchange.
Since my retirement this year I have taken some unremunerated posts, as a charity trustee, as Vice Chair of the service user network with the UK Healthcare Quality Improvement Programme (HQIP), as a member of the Health Foundation ‘Q’ Community and as a steering group member with the Social Care Institute for Excellence.
In my spare time I assist at a residential Childrens Work Camp which I have helped to run twice a year for fifteen years; I teach Co-Counselling in Oxford where I live; I give public talks for Young Dementia UK and I volunteer with their monthly Supper Club.
Currently I am trying to learn Hungarian and Norwegian with regular trips to help with projects in these countries. I have previously learned languages through projects in Germany, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands.
Larry Gardiner FRSA