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Jamaican remembers mom's sacrifice on news of knighthood

Published:Wednesday | January 1, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Jamaica-born scientist Geoffrey 'Geoff' Palmer has hailed his mother for making the sacrifices that allowed his life's journey and resulted in a knighthood from The Queen.

Palmer, an anti-racism campaigner and Scotland's first black university professor, is receiving the knighthood for services to human rights, science, and charity.

A professor emeritus at Edinburgh's Heriot-Watt University, Palmer has made huge contributions to the knowledge of cereal and grains.

His work has had worldwide impact and has played a role in tackling poverty in parts of Africa.

He is also an avid campaigner for better educational opportunities for children and young people from black and ethnic minority communities.

"I got a letter a few weeks ago, and when I opened it and read it, it said the prime minister had recommended me for a knighthood, and I immediately thought of my mother," Palmer told The Voice newspaper in the United Kingdom.


"She left Jamaica in 1948 on her own, and then she sent for me in 1955 when I was 14 years old.

"It took her from '48 to '55 to save £86 to bring me here. Without her love and sacrifice, my story would not have been possible."

Others to receive awards include professional footballer Rachel Yankey MBE, who was given an OBE for services to football, particularly the women and youth game.

This year's awards were focused on community work, with 74 per cent of the honours going to people who are actively engaged in charitable or voluntary work.