Current Newsletter Spring 2020

The Harkness Fellows Association hopes that all fellows are in good health.

Many Harkness Fellows work in health care. The NHS and health researchers are getting the recognition they deserve from the public during this pandemic. They will be experiencing unimaginably busy lives.

Other fellows find themselves physically isolated from usual social and professional networks.  Perhaps now is the time to write your 250 word alumni story – see here for other examples. Let us know on if you are willing and we will help.

Maybe you would like to write a feature for us.  We welcome features from all fellows; perhaps on the work you are doing, issues you are passionate about, or reflections on the interfaces between the US and UK. We hope that our features stimulate a few thoughts for the reader, and we ask you to avoid being party-political.

Our planned event on April 2 has of course been cancelled, but we will invite Dame Frances Cairncross to speak on a future occasion. 

Do let us have updates to share with colleagues

Harkness Fellows Association

Reflections on Learning
Many of us have reflected, often, on the impact of our time as Harkness Fellows – its impacts on our lives, on our careers, on our work and on our influence on the world we inhabit. One of our most recent returners, Dr Mary Docherty (HF 2018/19), has engaged in just such a reflection on her return, with insightful conclusions for us all. Mary studied the challenges of integrated healthcare for people with mental health issues.

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A Year in the Life of……..

Former journalist with the Economist, Dr Edwina Moreton OBE, (HF 1976-78), offers insight into the Livery; the Companies old and new that emerged from the Guilds. Noting some of their traditions with humour, she highlights the work of these organisations as members give back to their profession. Her comments on this leadership role at the end of her formal career complement those of our returning Fellow, reminding us that we keep on learning.

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Recent Talks  

The Annual Lecture was given by Sir Howard Davies (HF 1979-80). He traced the impact of the financial crisis on our trust in bankers and the financial sector. See his views and the evidence on whether banker promises are trusted. Sir Howard had a distinguished career including posts in the Treasury, FCO, McKinsey’s, Audit Commission, CBI, Bank of England, and as Chair of the Financial Services Authority and now the RBS.

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Mad about Astaire 

Last summer, Mark Bonham Carter’s (CFF 1947-48) daughter, Eliza, arranged for Harkness Fellows to visit the Royal Academy of Arts where she is Curator and Head of the RA Schools.  As memories emerged of his comments on his fellowship, Judy Digney, a former Trustee of HFA, invited Eliza to share more of his story with others.   Like many other fellows he had a multi-faceted career: politician, publisher, and contributor to cultural and public life.

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Harkness Fellows Updates

Thank you to those who sent updates about themselves or others. These should be sent to

Jan Morris (CFF 1953) has just published Thinking Again at the age of 93.  See an interview with her in January 2020.

We were sad to hear of the death, after nearly as long a life, of Sir Hans Leo Kornberg  FRS (CFF 1953-55) who passed away peacefully at Falmouth Hospital, MA, USA, aged 91 in December 2019

At the AGM in November 2019 the following Trustees of the Harkness Fellows Association were approved for renewed terms of three years;  Timothy Hornsby, Roy Williams, James Malcolm Dean, Judy Hargadon.

The following fellows will be joining the HFA Committee in April; William Wilson (HF 1996/97) and Hugh Alderwick (HF 2017/18).

Stanley Johnson, (HF 1963), kindly gave the after dinner talk at the annual Edward Harkness Birthday Dinner. His spoke on Life’s Little Surprises, which arose in his multiple careers as writer, historian, environmentalist, politician and TV celebrity. Reflecting on his career, there were a few quite serendipitous events that led to his breadth of roles.  The first of these was being persuaded by a teacher to enter the first poem he wrote into a competition, typed up by a patient and supportive mother.  He won.  This led to a place on the Harkness Fellowship scheme to study creative writing and his successful career as a writer. Early in this career, following advice that “poems don’t butter a lot of parsnips”, he broadened his outlook.  A post with the World Bank, followed by the UN and EU, as well as his publications saw him recognised as an award winning advocate on environmental matters.  Never one to avoid a challenge he described his time on ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get me Out of Here’ as truly educational – a chance to meet and understand people he would never have met otherwise. 

A Fond Farewell from HFA to Robin Osborn, with thanks for her support.
After 22 years, and overseeing 250 Harkness Fellows, Robin Osborn, stepped down as vice president of the Commonwealth Fund’s International Program in Health Policy and Practice Innovations and director of the Harkness Fellowships, and is now senior advisor to the Commonwealth Fund’s international program. From 1997 to 2019, Robin had responsibility for the Harkness Fellowships, as well as the Atlantic Fellowships, the reverse U.K. Harkness; the Fund’s annual International Symposium on Health Policy; annual international health policy surveys of 11 countries and comparisons of health systems data;  bilateral meetings on health care system quality and efficiency with the U.S. and U.K. held at Ditchley and Penny Hill Park; the Fund/LSE International Working Group on High Need/High Cost Patients; and, many collaborations with The Health Foundation, King’s Fund, and Nuffield Trust.

During her tenure, Robin expanded the Harkness Fellowships from three English-speaking countries to 10 countries, including Germany, France, the Netherlands, Canada, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland, some of whom had had fellowships in earlier years.  In taking over the Harkness Fellowships in 1997, during their transition to a health policy focus, Robin was deeply appreciative of the program’s legacy and the extraordinary roster of industry, public sector, academic and cultural leaders that the U.K. Harkness Fellowships had nurtured and supported, and, was committed to maintaining ties between the new Fellows and the traditional program.people/dr-john-freeman

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