Tonight in my home town in Canada I was awarded the Order of Lambrick Park, an award that ‘recognizes and honours Lambrick Park alumni who have made significant contributions or achievements since graduation’. My beautiful dad, Bob, accepted the award on my behalf, and read this message for me, in my absence:

‘It is such an honour to join other Lambrick Park alumni in receiving the Order of Lambrick Park. It has been many years since my time at Lambrick, but that time helped form me, and it stays with me – in particular, the compassion shown when our family suffered the loss of a person so very dear to us – my mother Janni.

Once others were aware of her ongoing cancer treatment in Vancouver, I would arrive at school to find home cooked meals and treats prepared to help us out. The compassion of the Lambrick Park students and teachers and their families, and in particular Linda Johnstone, and also Rick Cleghorn and his family, was an example I have kept with me to this day. I was lucky. I had someone to speak to – families happy to have me join them at the dinner table while my parents were away for her medical treatment. This, and a loving father in Bob – who I am making read this aloud in my absence, perhaps to his embarrassment – is much more than many kids have, and I am so grateful.

I have lived a full life since leaving this school, writing novels and non-fiction books, travelling the world on book tours and as a UNICEF Patron for Child Survival, and speaking out on issues of injustice and crime. Lambrick set me up for that experience. I have no regrets, except that I cannot be with you today in person. For any students listening right now, I want to tell you that you cannot yet fully know what you are capable of, and what positive impacts you can have on the world. The world needs you now more than ever. Be brave, be kind, and follow your path.

Thank you.’

These photographs were taken by Linda Johnstone, who began as my teacher and has become one of my closest and dearest friends. I wish I could have been there tonight.

Thank you for thinking of me.

(Also, it is kinda cool that this sounds a bit like it could be from Hogwarts.)