The day I spoke to the future King about Mercy Ships

Paul Denton with his OBE

The day I spoke to the future King about Mercy Ships

Standing in front of the Prince of Wales, receiving his OBE at Windsor Castle, 88-year-old Paul Denton was delighted when the future King asked him about his time in Ghana.

This was the opening Paul needed. He lost no time in explaining to Prince William that while he had been organising a nationwide blindness awareness campaign, any people they met who had serious eye conditions were sent down to the Ghanaian coastal city of Tema, where the Anastasis was docked. It was there, Paul explained, that women, men and children were given free life-changing surgery on board the floating hospital ship.

Paul Denton’s OBE was awarded on 4th June in recognition of his volunteer services to charity. As a member of the Rotary Foundation, Paul has impacted countless lives through fundraising efforts and awareness campaigns.

Upon collecting the award, Paul paid tribute to his daughter, Julia, who nominated him for the award before she died.

Paul said:

“Julia and her husband Simon got the ball rolling for the nomination. It’s sad she couldn’t be here to witness me receiving it, but I know she’d be so proud.”

Paul was accompanied to Windsor Castle by his other daughter Sally, granddaughter Beth and brother John. He was awarded the OBE for services to charity having spent more than 40 years working with Luton North Rotary Club.

One of his greatest achievements was helping to secure a $1.1million grant for Mercy Ships. The grant – the highest in Rotary Foundation’s history – helped  Mercy Ships to fund a new, state-of-the-art CT scanner, and other vital equipment on board the Global Mercy, which is currently stationed in Sierra Leone, West Africa.

Paul explains:

“I greatly admire the work of Mercy Ships and was thrilled to help them get the largest grant in the Foundation’s history. We tapped into funds from South Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Liberia and all over the world. So many people got behind it! They saw the charity’s clear vision and wanted to help.”

Paul, a banker at Natwest for 40 years before his retirement, added:

“The grant galvanised the generosity of Rotary, truly capturing hearts and imaginations: 31 Rotary districts, 341 clubs across the UK and the world – from Oklahoma to Seoul – all found a common cause to support Mercy Ships. I’m sure that’s one of the main reasons I received an OBE.”

Mercy Ships Chief Executive Officer Joanne Balaam said the charity was delighted to hear of Paul’s award.

“Paul’s commitment and determination to raise the largest global grant ever given by Rotary International of $1.1million for Mercy Ships will create change for decades to come. Women, men and children who have been robbed of years of healthy life in sub-Saharan Africa, can now receive the vital medical care they need.

“From all of our Mercy Ships volunteers and patients, we pass on a big congratulations for Paul’s well-deserved OBE in recognition of his volunteer services to charity.”