Business & Finance Awards

John and Pat Hume to be recognised with the 2021 TK Whitaker Award

By Business & Finance
09 December 2021
John & Pat Hume

Internationally renowned peace and civil rights campaigners John and Pat Hume have been announced as the 2021 recipients of the TK Whitaker Award and will be recognised for their unyielding contribution to the Northern Ireland peace process in Dublin in April as part of the Business & Finance Awards, in association with KPMG

Established in 2016, the TK Whitaker Award for Outstanding Contribution to Public Life recognises Irish and international social and political leaders who have been exemplary in their contribution to public life. Since its inception, the TK Whitaker Award has honoured President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins , Former Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD , Former President of Ireland, Mary McAleese and renowned producer Lord David Puttnam CBE.

The TK Whitaker Award, established with the support of the Whitaker family, forms part of the Business & Finance Awards Programme which is now in its 47th year and is hosted in association with our partners KPMG. Announcing the 2021 TK Whitaker Award and its honourees, Ian Hyland said:

“I am delighted that this year’s TK Whitaker Award will honour John and Pat Hume in recognition of their truly outstanding achievements and contribution to public life. John and Pat were relentless and uncompromising champions of peace, non-violence and democracy.  The work of the John & Pat Hume Foundation is a fitting memorial which will continue their journey in promoting peace and reconciliation and inspiring future leadership in peaceful change. It will be a great honour to host John and Pat’s family in allowing us to recognise them.”


John and Pat Hume – The Hume Foundation

Growing up, John and Pat Hume witnessed poverty, poor housing, inequality and injustice in their hometown. These experiences shaped their life-long commitment to peace and social justice. At the age of 27, John Hume, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, became the youngest ever president of the Irish League of Credit Unions. He led the Civil Rights Movement against discrimination and electoral abuse. The ensuing struggle for civil rights for all citizens of Northern Ireland, and his deep commitment to non-violence, drew him inevitably into politics.

For twenty-two years, John was leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), representing the people of Foyle as their Member of Parliament from 1983 to 2005. His wife and partner, Pat, ran his constituency office from the early days of the Civil Rights Movement, right through the darkest days of the troubles, and the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 — of which John was a chief architect — until John retired in 2005. Pat was his backbone and his trusted advisor, as well as being the point of contact on the ground to whom many of the families of Derry went for help and support on a wide range of issues.

From the early 1960s John drew inspiration from the Civil Rights Movement in the US and especially from one of its great leaders Martin Luther King Jr. John visited the US frequently and developed close links with prominent Irish -American politicians and with successive US Presidents from Jimmy Carter through to President William Jefferson Clinton, impressing on them his peaceful approach to conflict resolution in Northern Ireland. Pat remained at home where she was his eyes and ears on the ground. More than keeping him informed, it was often Pat’s critical interpretation of events that shaped John’s thinking, and reaction to events that frequently seemed to be spiralling out of control.

In 1979, John was elected as a member of the European Parliament. The principles he observed in the EU — respect for difference, representation of all people, and  “the spilling of sweat, not blood,” informed his approach to seeking a lasting resolution to the conflict in Northern Ireland. Many of the major political developments that eventually helped to bring peace to Northern Ireland came about as a direct result of John and Pat’s thinking and actions, from the Sunningdale Agreement to the Anglo-Irish Agreement and finally the Good Friday Agreement. For his work, John Hume has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the Gandhi Peace Prize and the Martin Luther King Award. Ever conscious of supporting those in need John donated all his prize money to social justice charities.

Their work changed the lives of people in myriad ways. From John’s early days as the youngest ever President of the Irish League of Credit Unions, to their tireless constituency work in the streets of Derry — from first steps into the corridors of power in Westminster, to forging alliances in Washington and Brussels, everything stemmed from the simple truths that guided and sustained their vision for peaceful change.

Remembering Dr Ken Whitaker

TK Whitaker

Pictured: TK Whitaker

Senator, civil servant and former Governor of the Central Bank, Dr Ken Whitaker was one of Ireland’s most outstanding public servants, whose 1958 Economic Development report led to Ireland’s First Programme for Economic Expansion, which opened Ireland to both global trade and inward investment. His impact on Ireland has been immense and to honour this, the TK Whitaker Award for Outstanding Contribution to Public Life similarly honours Irish and international leaders and their contribution to public life.

Some notable achievements in Dr Whitaker’s life include helping to establish the Institute of Public Administration and introducing a public sector university scholarship system. During the 1960s Dr Whitaker spearheaded Ireland’s path to joining the European Economic Community, leading delegations to European capitals, and meeting privately in 1967 with Charles De Gaulle.

Business & Finance Awards

Business & Finance was launched in 1964 as Ireland’s first business magazine with the Awards programme established a decade later. The Business & Finance Awards is Ireland’s premier business awards programme and includes among its previous honorees outstanding leaders of our time across business, politics and wider society. This includes former United States President Bill Clinton, former British Prime Minister Sir John Major, former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, former Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan, President Michael D. Higgins, former ECB President Mario Draghi, former Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Senator George Mitchell, and Sir Bob Geldof, among others.

The awards programme is open for nominations for a number of prestigious awards which honour and celebrate the very best in Irish and International business. The six categories across the programme include The 2021 Company of the Year in association with KPMG; Business Person of the Year in association with KPMG; Elevation Award in association with Enterprise Ireland; FDI of the Year in association with IDA Ireland and the Diversity, Equality & Inclusion Award, now in its third year and the newly introduced Environmental, Social & Governance category. 


Nominations for this year’s Awards Programme are now open until the 16th December 2021. Nominations are chosen as part of the Business & Finance monthly acknowledgements of Company of the Month, Business Person of the Month and FDI of the Month as well as nominations from our judging panel. If you wish to submit a nomination contact you can find the nomination form on the website.

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