Stuart Hemington never visited Rwanda, but there will be a part of him there forever.
When we started Network for Africa some years ago, Stuart and his wife Pauline were among our first supporters. He “got” our mission immediately – offering survivors of the Rwandan genocide a helping hand through training. He was enthusiastic about the central role of women in rebuilding their war-shattered country. And he and Pauline dedicated their regular and generous donations to their granddaughter, Nia.
Stuart worked in agriculture in Lincolnshire, managing farming businesses and later advising companies about every aspect of growing food. He combined practical knowledge of the land with a strategic vision of where the global farming market was going. He was always keen to help those less fortunate; he chaired the Lincolnshire Rural Stress Network for farmers struggling to cope on their own, something that would resonate in Rwanda. Not surprisingly, he was always helpful in guiding our Aspire project in rural Rwanda.
He wrote to me, “In simple terms you always remind me that wherever possible it is always better to assist people to help themselves, and that is certainly working as far as the women of Aspire are concerned.”
The Aspire project returned the compliment: they have named a room at the project for Stuart. We sent Stuart the photos in this blog while he was in hospital, receiving treatment when cancer was diagnosed earlier this year. He proudly showed the pictures to visitors and medical staff. He returned home and continued emailing us, as supportive of our work as ever, until just a few days before he lost his valiant battle on 18 October. Stuart was 77.
Network for Africa salutes Stuart, and sends condolences to Pauline and their children Simon and Alison.
Just before he died, 100 years ago, in the trenches of World War One, Rupert Brooke wrote,
“If I should die, think only this of me,
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is forever England.”
Fittingly, there is a corner of Rwanda that will be forever Stuart.