Many congratulations to Bob Marek on receiving the Order of the
British Empire for his outstanding and innovative work for blind
and partially sighted children and students in Poland.
Below is a transcript of the presentation in Lublin on the 17th
October 2002, given by Tim Simmons, Charge d'Affaires of the British
Embassy in Warsaw:
"Boguslaw 'Bob' Marek has worked for the Catholic University
of Lublin since the 1970s, teaching English there for many years.
After a visit to London, he became fascinated by the challenges
facing the blind. After studying the British experience, he
established the first English for the Blind programme at the
University, producing: English-language teaching materials for
blind and partially-sighted students; access technology for
totally blind students; and training for sighted students as
teachers of English to learners with visual impairment.
Over the last 10 years, Bob Marek has worked closely with the
Royal National Institute for the Blind and other British institutions
in the same field. He is a pioneer in his field in Poland, and
it is thanks to his vision and determination that assistance
to the blind is beginning to be taken seriously here. In addition
to his work at the University, Bob Marek has also worked with
HM Prison Service to replicate in Poland projects implemented
in British prisons, under which prisoners produce Braille transcriptions
It is always rewarding to be a part - however small - of a
partnership such as that between Bob Marek and his British models.
But more than that, it has been an honour and a pleasure for
me and many successive teams at the British Embassy to work
with Bob in his pioneering work. It is my privilege therefore
to tell you all that Professor Marek has been appointed an Officer
in the Order of the British Empire by Her Majesty The Queen,
and to confer the award."
In accepting the award, Bob gave the following address:
"I am trying to think of words which would best describe
how I feel, and all I can think of is … "I am overwhelmed."
I know what exceptional honour it is to receive The Order of
the British Empire. But when I think that someone, somewhere
in Lublin, two thousand kilometers from Buckingham Palace, has
just received this distinguished Award from … the British
Monarch, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, I also know that some
time will have to pass before I realise the full significance
of this moment and of the fact that I happen to be the person
honoured so greatly.
I remember, some years ago one of the blind children I used
to work with, said to me one day "I think I know what it
means 'to see'. To see, must be like being able to look into
the future because you know now that there will be a tree, and
I will know later, when I walk up to the tree and touch it."
Today, I cannot help thinking that if it is true that to see,
to really see, means to be able to see the future, then (and
I hope I am allowed to say this), then Her Majesty can see very
well indeed. Her Majesty can see, and through this Award, I
believe, is sending an important message: that there IS a future
for young, talented blind people; a message that blind children
can learn foreign languages; a message that even totally blind
students can study English, English literature, British history
and culture at a university level; that they can hope for an
independent future, working as translators or interpreters;
that they can achieve all this if… if they are given the
chance. And for sending this message, across the English Channel
and half the continent, I am extremely grateful."
We would like to wish Professor Bob Marek, OBE every
success with his continuing pioneering and hugely significant work.
Bob has also presented several workshops and papers at conferences hosted by the NCTD:
in Tactile Graphics for Young Learners"
Sense of Spatial Relations: Tactile Graphics for First Time
graphics for young learners: simple tasks for teaching difficult
space: developing a course in tactile graphics for young learners"
For more information about Bob Marek visit http://www.hungryfingers.com/
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