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My Years with the British Red Cross (ePub)

A Chief Executive Reflects

P&S History > British History

By Sir Nicholas Young
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
File Size: 30.6 MB (.epub)
ISBN: 9781399067027
Published: 30th October 2022


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Sir Nick Young’s memoir is a fascinating and candid account of his thirteen years as chief executive of the British Red Cross (2001-2014). During this critical period he led the organisation’s response to the financial crisis, the Iraq War, the Asian Tsunami, the London bombings, a kidnapping, the fighting in Syria, media challenges, and numerous earthquakes, floods and other disasters.

The author shares the strains and moments of fulfilment, relief and humour, as he played a key role in the response to some of the 21st Century’s most dramatic and dangerous events. His book paints a vivid yet modest picture of what is involved running one of the world’s best-known disaster response organisations, reacting to catastrophes, both man-made and natural, and saving the lives and livelihoods of those caught up in global disasters, conflicts and health emergences.

It is rare for charity leaders to reveal their insights in this way and, at the same time, paint such a vivid picture of life at the top of a large voluntary organisation. The result is a compelling read, particularly for those interested in international affairs, the way charities work, and what makes them different from other types of world class organisations.

Article: 'Unfinished Business'

Suffolk, May 23

"The author’s travels to many of these places and his encounters with the great and the good worldwide proves a fascinating read."

Read the review here

Hektoen International Journal - Dr Arpan K Banerjee

"Having had the privilege to be part of the British Red Cross journey between 2003 and 2012, this book by Sir Nick brought back memories of the dedication and selflessness of so many. His charismatic leadership and appreciation of everyone involved cannot be underestimated.As he says in the introduction, whilst its chronology is a balance between the work of the British Red Cross across the world and around the corner, it provides a great insight into a changing organisation over those years. The honest and heartfelt description of altruism at work, through the actions of some incredible people, could only have been realised through the encouragement of this man. His stature as a humanitarian, within both the UK and Internationally is without parallel and his influence profound. This book is a great read and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in the world of disaster response and the role of the humanitarian aid agencies both in the UK and overseas."

Ian Rideout

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This memoir was pretty incredible. To be honest, I had not much of an idea what an executive with the Red Cross actually did, and so this book was a bit of an eye-opener, to say the least.

I love that there are people out there who dedicate their lives to helping the less fortunate in our societies and who aim to be there when disaster strikes with practical and emotional support.

My admiration for this man grew as I was reading his story; how he managed all that travelling, all those different foods etc, being respectful of local tradition and culture and all whilst trying to keep himself and his staff (volunteer and paid) safe in some very hairy situations indeed. It is so complicated, keeping all those balls in the air, when it comes to different organisations getting involved with disaster relief. I think that Sir Nick must be a heck of a diplomat as well.

It strikes me that there are places in the world where the local heads of government REALLY need to step up and not just hang back and wait for agencies like the Red Cross to step in and help their populations. I don't understand how some Presidents and Prime Ministers could live in some expensive mansion and be living the high life whilst their population starves and suffers. It has always been thus, though, in some countries.

Really incredible, what Sir Nick did in his career. The last few pages of the book really saddened me so I hope that he and his lovely wife are enjoying some time together, enjoying a bit of leisure time, for a change

5 stars from me.

NetGalley, Monica Mac

About Sir Nicholas Young

SIR NICK YOUNG’s distinguished career began as a corporate lawyer with one of the ‘Magic Circle’ law firms. After moving to East Anglia, he discovered his vocation as a charity worker, first with Sue Ryder and Leonard Cheshire, before becoming Chief Executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, and then Chief Executive of the British Red Cross, stepping down in 2014 after thirteen years.
He was knighted for services to cancer care in 2000, and received The Queen’s Badge of Honour in 2013. He was presented with the charity sector’s award for Outstanding Leadership in 2011, the Star of Italy in 2015, and an Honorary Doctorate at Birmingham University (2022). In retirement, he remains a charity trustee, adviser and consultant.
He is the author of Escaping With His Life (Pen & Sword, 2019), the story of his Father’s remarkable wartime experiences
Nick and his wife, Helen, live in Suffolk and have three sons.

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