The Recognition Minute

Awards for South Africans July 21 2017, 0 Comments

May I state the obvious?  We live in interesting times.  As always!

The history of South Africa has given us lots to talk about.  The wildness of the terrain has yielded so much to see.  Diverse people live together in this colourful nation.

As South Africans, we have shown great resourcefulness in finding solutions to problems over the decades, even centuries.  So, a little about our heritage of success, for which we could be forgiven for awarding ourselves a medal.  No, make that a huge, silver trophy!

3 December 1967, on the tip of our African continent, Dr Chris Barnard performed the world’s first heart transplant.  It was uncharted territory.  A domain unexplored in humans.  It was very risky since once he had removed the patients failing heart, there was no turning back.  Either the recipient would never wake up or they would wake up with a functioning heart.  If the heart did beat and give life, how well and for how long?  There was no precedent.  No one knew.

Louis Washkansky did wake up  and Dr Barnard became the first ever to succeed in transplanting a human heart into another person.  Kudos, trophies, medals and plenty of certificates all round.  Barnard became an international celebrity and performed another ten heart transplants, one of the patients surviving for 23 years.

Another Doctor, Dr Selig Percy Amoils created a new method of cataract surgery, using his cryoprobe.  He developed this method at Baragwanath Hospital and was awarded the Queen’s Award for Technological Innovation in 1975.  His invention gave back sight to many, who could now enjoy their successes in the light.  This put South Africa on the world’s stage of medical advancement again.  His invention has since been on display in the Kensington Museum in London.

Another exceptional advancement in medical technology was the CAT scan.  This was developed in Cape Town by physicist Allan Cormack and his associate Godfrey Hounsfield.  It required medical and mathematical skill and innovation in order to achieve their goal: a scanner that could scan the whole body and translate the data into meaningful images.  These scans were clearer than static X-Ray plates and took the medical world a leap forward in diagnostic ability.

Their work also deserved an enormous trophy and was recognized through a Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine.

A CAT scanner is used routinely today in the diagnosis and management of many medical conditions and allows for much better and more specific treatment.

One more South African medical invention:  The Smartlock safety syringe. 

The Smartlock syringe automatically retracts the needle into a sheath and locks it in place as the needle is withdrawn the patient.  Therefore, no needle caps to place over used needles or a specific ‘sharps’ disposal container.  This meant safety for all concerned.

Interesting times indeed.   May our people continue earning awards for South Africa, whether in science or culture, sport or engineering.

In our next blog post, I will feature some other, world-renowned inventions by South Africans who deserve the gold medal of innovation and the trophy of success!

RESOLUTIONS ARE FAMOUS January 05 2017, 0 Comments

The ten most commonly broken new year’s resolutions are:

  • Loose weight; get fit
  • Stop smoking
  • Learn something new
  • Eat healthier; diet
  • Get out of debt; save money
  • Spend more time with family
  • Be less stressed
  • Travel to new places
  • Volunteer
  • Drink less (presumably alcohol)

 If this is the case, then looking around, we would expect to see many hard-working overweight smokers with a glass of grog, on their own hiding from the debt collectors! Sound familiar? 

While new year is a time for reflection and an opportunity to start your race anew, it means checking what you really want to achieve and what exactly it would look like once you have achieved it. A new activity instead of a new outcome may just be the problem with our famous resolutions that fail. We need an outcome, represented by something tangible. 

Imagine your resolution is engraved on a trophy. It describes in a few words what you had achieved and the date. The date is important. It is written in past tense so that you see it as an accomplishment. It is not a wish; it is a firm resolution. 

Imagine, also, that along the way to achieving your resolution you have been awarded a medal for each step of the way.  If you had resolved to travel to new places, the trophy might say “Arrived in Greece – 7 October 2017” (remember – past tense) and the medals would be steps along the way such as (1) “Map and Travel Evening with Family” – pretend it was a bronze medal. (2) The silver medal could be “Travel Agent Engaged” and (3), your gold medal for this achievement, “Tickets to Athens Bought.” By this stage, you are well on your way to achieving your resolution. 

I like to call this your medal plan, which you can adopt for any endeavor and is especially useful for those famous resolutions that are somehow stashed away for most of the year and brought out for an airing during the excitement of another new year. So, along with us all at Prestige Awards where you could buy medals to make you resolutions more tangible, we wish you well along the journey to achieving your dreams in 2017.

TO ALL THE WINNERS December 14 2016, 0 Comments


So, your race is nearly over and the end of 2016 races towards us with blinding speed and ferocious certainty.  Ahead lies the line across your path that sighs “finish”.   You know that somewhere beyond that point, there will be a reward, something to say that you made it and can finally recuperate.  Is it the gold that dangles, calling you to finish strong even though you are all but spent?  Is it a silver trophy, raised and shining, shouting for you that you made it?  Or, perhaps it’s a beautiful bronze medal that says you are the best you can be so keep going so that you will wear me with pride?  Well done all participants, without whom there would be no race at all!

This post is dedicated to all the winners!  This includes you who started the year with great plans and as you watched them unfold, somehow, your race track was diverted and you had to start again.  It’s dedicated to you who were pipped at the post, yet ran with all your might, the best race of your life.  It is most certainly dedicated to you who felt that the year was running faster than usual and you were just a spectator this time. You are winners because you share the most important achievement – life, and running all the way.  Well done!

In a matter of a few blurred days, it will be New Year and so much of last year will be unwritten history.  It will be time to take aim and think about the future, 2017.  How will you run and what will be your goal – bronze, silver or gold?  Resolutions will abound; promises even more so.  What will be your plan?  Perhaps it is unfair to ask you the questions now but can I leave you with this:  What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?  Maybe it’s about trying something a little different and exciting so that 2017 does not feel too much like 2016.  Whatever, may you enjoy this time of goodwill and recreation with good friends and family, wherever you find yourself running, or jogging, or just strolling along your path of joy.

The End of a Glorious Year December 05 2016, 0 Comments

Someone once remarked that a race is never worth running unless there are those along the track that clap and cheer. Approaching the end of the school year sometimes makes one feel as if they were both cheering and running at the same time.  It feels like a significant achievement to see the arrival of December.  Whether it is athletics, rugby, academic or cultural activities, everything suddenly goes quiet as we cross the finish line.  For each teacher, it is the prospect of a well-earned break.  For the learners, it is a time of anticipation of success as they wrap up their academic year with final exams, celebrate and look forward to their certificates and reports.  It is true that for some, learning did not come easily and thinking was not always crystal clear.  These folk may not all share in the honour of rewards this year but if they clapped along the way for those who won the hard race, they have the opportunity to start over and aim for next year’s rewards!  They also deserve a special medal.