An Aberdeen oil tycoon has been awarded a prestigious prize for his philanthropic work.
Sir Ian Wood has been named as one of the recipients of this year’s Carnegie Medal for Philanthropy – one of only a handful of people worldwide to be recognised.
The medals are awarded every two years in honour of Andrew Carnegie, who believed that wealthy people were morally obligated to give their money to others in society. The award comes 100 years after Scottish-born Mr Carnegie died.
Sir Ian has been recognised for the work of the Wood Foundation, which he established in 2007.
He is the only European recipient on this year’s list.
Previous winners of the prestigious accolade include the Rockefeller Family, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Sir Tom Hunter.
Sir Ian said: “Andrew Carnegie is undoubtedly Scotland’s greatest-ever philanthropist.
“The impact he has had is enormous.
“The spread of his funds was huge and made such a massive difference.
“I first heard of him when I went to university. I was awarded a Carnegie scholarship and that was the first I had heard of him.
“Having someone like that as an icon in terms of giving is so helpful. Philanthropy comes from a whole range of different motivations.
“For me, one of the best things is seeing the feeling of success and recognition the foundation’s staff get. They work so hard. This award is down to the quality of the people working for the foundation, both here in Scotland and in Africa.”
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As well as being involved in projects locally, such as the £10.7 million multi-story car park at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, The Wood Foundation also operates in Africa – primarily in Rwanda and Tanzania.
In those countries, it has transformed regions throughout the tea industry. As well as investing funds and expertise, the organisation has trained tens of thousands of farmers in order to create a sustainable industry.
Around 5,000 smallholder farmers are trained each year, setting them up for generations to come. And more than 70,000 farmers work directly with the foundation – creating additional employment for 30,000 more people.
Sir Ian said: “What the foundation is really doing is helping people to help themselves.
“We don’t do it to make ourselves feel good, we are doing it in order to make a difference and make people’s lives better. What makes us feel good is seeing people enhancing their livelihoods and seeing regions transformed through some of the projects we have been able to deliver.”
The organisation also arranges programmes in Scotland which encourage young people to support groups in their communities.
Sir Ian added: “We get schoolchildren to go into charities working in their areas. Teams produce reports on the charity and the winning team gets £3,000 to give to the charity.
“It helps them have awareness of which organisations are working in their area and increases the chances of them becoming philanthropic throughout their lives.”
Sir Ian added: “Everyone has to take responsibility to try to create a better world.
“Out of all the things the foundation has done, the new car park at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary has been incredibly well received.
“There are a lot of things in the north-east and abroad we are doing which are having a fantastic impact, and we are really proud of them.
“We are going to continue with our areas of success. We will move into one or two further countries in Africa.”