Michael Palin Elected as Society's New President

Article excerpt

The Society's Annual General Meeting (AGM) in June saw the presentation of the prestigious annual medals and awards and the election of a new president to serve over the next three years, taking over from Professor Sir Gordon Conway as figurehead and chair of the Society's elected trustees.

The incoming president, Michael Palin CBE, will be familiar to the vast majority of Geographical readers and is certainly no stranger to the Society, where he has been a Fellow for more than 30 years.

Michael is perhaps best known for his popular BBC travel documentaries, which have seen him become a widely recognised champion for geography. His passion and enthusiasm for engaging people in the world and its many cultures and places shines through all of his programmes.

Speaking about his appointment, Michael said: 'To be asked to take over the presidency of such an internationally acclaimed and respected body is an almost unbelievable honour. I am only too aware of the great and distinguished figures whose boots I will have to try to fill. I can't bring a vast pool of expert knowledge to the Society, but I can bring curiosity, enthusiasm, a desire to learn and open-mindedness to promoting what I regard as the most important subject for the future: geography.'

One of Michael's first public activities as Society president has been to launch and lead the RGS-IBG's new appeal. This seeks to raise the funds needed to make essential repairs to the historic north face of Lowther Lodge, the Society's home in Kensington, and to create a much-needed members' room.

It's hoped that with Michael's support, the old library, the Nightingale Room, will be transformed by 2010 into a comfortable, well-equipped space for members to meet, talk, plan their travels, work or just relax over a cup of coffee.

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'Lowther Lodge is one of the most striking and distinctive buildings in one of the most striking and distinctive locations in London,' Michael said. 'For almost 100 years, it has been the outward, visible and much-loved face of the Society's headquarters, and I feel very strongly that we must do all we can to ensure that it's as welcoming and accessible as possible,' adding that he hoped the new members' room would encourage them to visit more often. …