Emeka Anyaoku, Patricia Scotland and Stuart Mole at tree-planting memorial ceremony for Patsy RobsertonFormer Commonwealth Secretary-General Chief Emeka Anyaoku plants a tree at Marlborough House as Baroness Patricia Scotland and Stuart Mole (Commonwealth Association Chair) look on. [photos: Victoria Schofiled]

Commonwealth friends and colleagues of veteran campaigner Patsy Robertson joined together with members of Patsy’s family to commemorate her remarkable life. The ceremonial tree planting in the gardens of Marlborough House, on 10 May, was organised by the Commonwealth Association, the alumni organisation of former Commonwealth staff which Patsy founded in 2001. The guest of honour was Chief Emeka Anyaoku, the former Commonwealth Secretary-General, who planted an Indian Bean Tree and unveiled a commemorative plaque in Patsy’s name. He revealed that he had been a colleague of Patsy for twenty-eight of the thirty-four years he had served in the Commonwealth Secretariat. He spoke of Patsy’s “uncommon dedication” and said that she “cared passionately for the Commonwealth and was an effective advocate of the organisation’s values and principles.”

The current Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland, also took part in the tree-planting ceremony and welcomed guests. She spoke of her close friendship with Patsy and her admiration for her work, later tweeting: ‘We remember her service and devotion to the #Commonwealth and her efforts to help end Apartheid in #SouthAfrica’.

Jamaican-born Patsy Robertson died in August 2020 after a career as a journalist and then as a long-serving official at the Commonwealth Secretariat and later at the United Nations. When former colleagues and Commonwealth Secretaries-General paid tribute to her in November 2020, they reflected on her role in helping the Commonwealth achieve global momentum to bring down South Africa’s apartheid system and in helping to forge the modern Commonwealth.

Chair of the Commonwealth Association, Stuart Mole, who succeeded Patsy as chair on her death, said that her tree would be ‘a living memorial’ to her life and a future focus of remembrance which many would appreciate.  Its location at Marlborough House required special permission from the late Queen, which she granted shortly before her death last year.


Patsy Robertson at a 2015 Commonwealth Round Table conference[picture: Patsy Robertson at a 2015 Commonwealth Round Table conference]

Round Table articles on Patsy Robertson:

A reflection on the life of Patsy Robertson by Stuart Mole, 2020
Patsy Robertson – An appreciation by Richard Bourne, 2020
A Commonwealth that Patsy would want


Commonwealth Association representatives and staff at Marlborough House also attended a cake cutting ceremony for Chief Anyaoku to mark his 90th birthday.

Chief Emeka Anyaoku served as Commonwealth Secretary-General from 1990 to 2000. In January, participants at a Commonwealth Round Table conference wished him a happy 90th birthday via Zoom.


Related articles:

Obituary – The Round Table Journal

Patsy Robertson obituary – The Guardian UK

Patsy Robertson Remembered For Eloquence, Competence, Charm – Jamaica Gleaner

Editorial | Patsy Robertson – A Doyen Of Diplomacy And Press Freedom – Jamaica Gleaner

If ever someone deserved to be honoured by Jamaica, it’s Patsy Robertson – Richard Bernal, Jamaica Observer

Scrutinising the Commonwealth future again

Patsy Robertson takes part in a Round Table discussion on the UK, the Commonwealth and the Commonwealth Summit 2018 –  2017

Patsy Robertson writes for the Round Table – Bishnodat (Vishnu) Persad, the Ramphal years and the Caribbean – 2016

In honour of global statesman extraordinaire, Chief Emeka Anyaoku @ 90 years – Vanguard