WELCOMING SPEECH BY DR. TOM LEONARD ON OCCASION OF HIS 70TH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS IN VITTORIA ON THE WALK, EDINBURGH ON 24TH MARCH 2018
Birthday Pictures: http://thomashoskynsleonardblog.blogspot.co.uk/2018/03/blog-post.html
Thank you Julie, and I'd like welcome you all and to thank all of my wonderful friends for helping me to celebrate my birthday so convivially this evening. I would also like to thank my cousin Penny Bowles for travelling all this way from Devon to be with us, and Diego and Diane Ruiz for travelling from Manchester for a third time to see me. I should also thank my great nephew and niece Edward and Charlotte Wakefield Leonard for coming. They are the oldest of my parents' seven great grandchildren, and Edward is currently the last male member of our Leonard line. Maybe Scott would be kind enough to present Charlotte and Edward with this statuette, to honour their achievements in teaching and childcare.
Among our many other honoured guests I would like to greet ten highly convivial fellow members of the Open Book reading group. We meet every Thursday morning in the Botanic Cottage, which was rebuilt recently in the Royal Botanic Gardens after being moved from its previous location near Hopetoun Crescent Gardens following a suggestion by a committee of my worthy neighbours, who included our very own John and Eileen Dickie.
I badly injured my leg at the end of November after falling outside the Mosque on Annandale Street on my way home from an enjoyable Open book meeting in the Botanic Cottage. I would like to ask Charlotte to present Open Book with this engraved quaiche in appreciation of their generous support following my injury, and for their Edinburgh charity's wonderful work in reaching out to the elderly and vulnerable people in our community. Perhaps Charlotte could present it to Terry Broadley for us.
Thank you, Terry Let's see now-- After my fall outside the Mosque, I fell sprawling again in my flat after sending emergency messages to close family and friends and while waiting for the hefty paramedics, six of whom were needed to carry me through mega space down the stairs.
During the unexpected traumas that followed and which will forever remain devastatingly sad in my memory, I received tremendous support from the South Edinburgh Quakers (Thank you Rufus and Sue, and also Alison for visiting me in hospital!) and from my ninety-four year old step mother Gwen Watson, who has recently moved to Surrey from her cottage next to the historic market place in Plympton St. Mary, and from my step brother Keith Watson. Gwen and Keith have demonstrated the sort of probity and integrity which keeps good families together.
I would like to express my gratitude to my close friend and flatmate the Scottish poet, social advocate, and much to be celebrated radical historian Scott Forster for his tremendous help and support over the last four years, not to forget our dear companions Julie McGarvey and Penny Jackson, and their culinary and musical tastes. I am also grateful to my friend the highly eloquent Scottish poet James Carter for helping me to write my self-published novels and for playing a leading role in our still ongoing mental health campaign, and my friend from Prague, Petr Machacek, also known as Michael Jackson, for helping me to walk and live again. And I am particularly indebted to my dear friend, the retired Heriot-Watt applied psychologist, poet, and writer Dr. Lindsay Oliver for all the highly perceptive advice she has given me during the last few years. I would like to ask Penny and Edward to present James and Lindsay with these engraved quaiches, in both gratitude and admiration.
Thank you, guys. And now I would like to invite Professor John Hsu, to present this statuette to Diego Andres Perez Ruiz of Manchester University for interviewing me at length during 2016 regarding my idiosyncratic opinions about Bayesian Statistics. The long interview was published in the Bulletin of the International Society of Bayesian Analysis, at which time the Editor honoured my long-time academic friend Stephen Fienberg of Carnegie-Mellon University, who passed away just prior to its publication, and whose honesty and integrity transcend Statistics, In his after dinner speech at the Valencia 6 conference in 1998, Steve joked about my keenness to cite the literature, in particular my very obscure paper in Technometrics 1975. I am glad to have the opportunity to also honour Professor Stephen Fienberg by mentioning him in this speech twenty years later
I give particular praise to Scott and Julie for saving my life in 2016. when they rushed me comotose along the proverbial red line into hospital with cellulitis tearing up my leg, and to my long-time co-author John Hsu for flying all the way from Neverland, sorry I mean Santa Barbara, to visit me in hospital in 2001 when I was completely zoned out and in the depths of despair. I am delighted that John is here again present tonight with his wife Serene, who I also first met in Madison, Wisconsin in 1985, when they lived in Eagle Heights overlooking the sacred Native American lake, Lake Mendota. After graduating from Wisconsin as my Ph.D. student, John has more recently served as the Head of the Department of Applied Probability and Statistics at the University of California at Santa Barbara.
However, while I totally decry war, just like my father in the latter years of his life and like my friends in the Quakers, I would like to dedicate this my seventieth birthday to my late father Captain Cecil Leonard of the DCLI and Green Howards, descendent of the Hoskyns-Abrahalls, who was commissioned on the field by Montgomery for ingenuity in action at the Battle of Tunis, and to my step mother the afor mentioned Gwen who worked in the W.A.A.F on the dangerous barrage balloons, and then as an aircraft mechanic after dancing on Plymouth Hoe between the Nazi bombing raids of the Second World War.
My father, like me, poured contempt on phobic people who marginalise and bully our minorities and the vulnerable. I am myself proud to be both a psychiatric survivor and the person God made me to be. Like my family of true friends around me and the Quakers at their annual meetings which I attended last August at the University of Warwick, I am in fundamental disagreement with those who ridicule, gaslight, exploit, or triangulate against any other human being, whether the victim is an immigrant, disabled, transgender, gay, autistic, intersex, dyspraxic, or whatever, and I call upon the transgressors to beg mercy from Almighty God himself,or herself.
My father, mother Rhona Leonard and stepmother Gwen have been among the truest friends of my life, several others of whom are here present. In this spirit I would like to offer a toast to my parents' truly inspiring great grandchildren Edward and Charlotte, and encourage them to encourage future generations of our proud family, with its 13 talented blood descendents and its ancient hedgehog heraldic motif, to similarly honour their Grandpa, Nana and Gwen. So please raise your glasses, folk! I offer a toast to the future, to Edward and Charlotte.