RESULTS UK offers its deepest sympathy to the friends and families of all those whose lives were lost in the MH17 crash. Our director, Aaron Oxley, remembers and honours the life and work of Glenn Thomas, a longstanding friend of RESULTS.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been over a week since the shooting down of flight MH17 above Ukraine. There are almost no words to fully express the senseless loss of those 298 people. Among those on the airplane was Glenn Thomas , who worked for the WHO Communications Department, and who has been an ally of RESULTS UK for many years.
Our history with Glenn goes back well over a decade. At my first ever RESULTS National Conference as a grassroots attendee back in 1998, Glenn was one of the keynote speakers. He spoke passionately about TB, then, as now, one of his communication priorities. This was back when RESULTS UK was just starting our journey of understanding TB and its impact in the world, and Glenn was full of important insights that meant we could speak with confidence about what can sometimes be a very complex disease.
Part of that RESULTS conference was a gala fundraising auction, and Glenn had volunteered a lot: “A weekend break in my flat in Geneva”. I was the one who bid, and won.
For many reasons it took until 2013 – 15 years later – for me to claim that lot when I visited Geneva for the World Health Assembly. While I was there, Glenn and I went out to dinner. The conversation revolved around how to get the press to pay more attention to TB and other neglected global health issues: as usual, Glenn had ideas to test out and ideas to explore.
That it took 15 years for me to collect on my fundraising auction lot, and that Glenn still so enthusiastically honoured it, tells you everything you need to know about the kind of person he was and his lifelong commitment to leaving the world a better place than he found it.
Besides the conversation, what I remember most of that evening was Glenn’s huge smile, one that started in his eyes and overtook his whole face. It was impossible not to get caught up in that smile.
That bright smile brings to mind Glenn’s great help in putting on a special screening of the Jane Campion film “Bright Star”, about the life, and early death from TB of the Romantic poet John Keats. Besides making sure that many high-level media representatives attended, Glenn was photographed with many others holding a sign that read “No More Bright Stars Lost to TB.”
Glenn was needlessly taken from us far too soon, along with far too many others aboard MH17, and countless more by the diseases he fought so hard to end.
He will be missed.