Behind The Foundation
9 Islands. 1 Ocean.
The Ocean Azores Foundation was created to support the waters around the Azores and its inhabitants.
... "You'll do something great one day."
The inspiration behind The Ocean Azores Foundation started in 1998. A group of young boys each waited for interview at a prejudicious company who gave out scholarships to the employees’ children. The interview panel would meet each one and then select a child who would receive funds to go to a private school of their choice. The selection criteria was based on academic achievement, out of school activities and interests.
The final child was probably the least likely to pass the test based in academic qualifications alone. Dyslexic, fidgeting and nervous in his shorts, blazer and badly fitting tie he did not really fit in with the other high performing academic children.
At the interview I still remember not really knowing why exactly i was being interviewed. I just knew that this was my Mother’s boss and it was very important I sat up straight and answered all the questions. The panel asked a number of things, my grades (good for a dyslexic child who worked on extra classes to get them) as well as my outside interests.
At this point, the gentlemen looked up and asked me, “so it says here you like to collect banknotes?” “Yes” I replied. “I especially like the British ones. With a 5 on them,” I said with a cheeky grin. At this moment my mother’s face dropped in embarrassment but the gentlemen smiled and said to my mother “thank you Gill, I think we have enough information.” And so I was ushered out of the room and home we were bound.
Around a month later mother received a letter. This was from the Debeers Foundation informing her that I would be awarded the scholarship. Attached to the letter was a 5 pound note with a message. “One day you’ll do great things. Good luck.” NO (short for Mr Oppenheimer, my mother’s boss.)
It is with profound thanks for that opportunity that I am here today, and am able to work with Caroline to build what is a small step in helping to protect and understand more about the ocean that surrounds the Azores.
With thanks to the following people
Caroline I would like to thank my wife Caroline, a constant supporter who I wouldn’t be here without. It is not just in her ability to focus my ideas and help me execute, but for also suggesting the Azores for our honeymoon in the first place 15 years ago.
Board I owe a huge debt of gratitude to our board members and advisors. Each person is not only an advocate for the foundation, but also a trusted friend who has supported and helped create this platform. Their support, advice, smiles and encouragement when things get tough is why we are here today.
And finally, the community here in the Azores. For without so many amazing people who passionately care about these islands the foundation would not exist. Thank you everyone for your support.
9 islands. 1 Ocean.