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Derek Fordjour (b. 1974)

Portrait of Professor Sir Godfrey (Geoff) Palmer, OBE, CD

b. 9 April 1940, Jamaica | Came to Britain in 1955 | Acrylic, charcoal, cardboard, oil pastel, and foil on newspaper, mounted on canvas |

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Geoff grew up in Kingston, Jamaica joining his mother in London when he was fourteen. He applied to university in Leicester in 1961 to study Botany and continued his studies in Grain Science in Edinburgh for which he was awarded a PhD in 1967. From 1989 until his retirement in 2005, Geoff was Professor of Grain Science at Heriot-Watt University. Amongst many accolades, he was knighted for services to Human Rights, Science and Charity in 2014.

Artist Derek Fordjour’s reflection

Even before I met him, Sir Geoff was a man I felt I understood … In telling his story, he revealed the kind of resilience borne of dignified struggle. He insisted on the promises of democracy, believed in the transformational power of education and … is never far from the Jamaican women who prepared him for a new life ahead.