Fresh on the heels of receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, not to mention celebrating his 80th birthday earlier this year, Sir Roger Moore received the Dag Hammarskjöld Inspiration Award at the Dag Hammarskjöld Award’s Fund Luncheon, held at the United Nations. It has clearly been quite a year for him and he seemed to be taking the accolades with natural charm and humor.

“I’ve been an exceedingly lucky actor, and the luck of it all was that I was able to come and work for UNICEF,” said Goodwill Ambassador Sir Roger Moore as he received the Dag Hammarskjöld Inspiration Award at a ceremony in New York.

The prestigious humanitarian award is presented in memory of the second United Nations Secretary-General, Dag Hammarskjöld, who served from April 1953 until his death in a plane crash in September 1961.

Sir Roger, only the second recipient of the award, received it for his work with UNICEF on behalf of the world’s children.

“It is an enormous privilege to receive this award in honour of Dag Hammarskjöld,” said the veteran actor and child advocate. “He devoted his life, as short as it was, to improving the world for people. He died long before he should have done, working for that cause.”

“The truth will eventually win”

The award to Sir Roger was announced at the annual luncheon of the Dag Hammarskjöld Scholarship Fund for Journalists. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan attended, along with UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman and other dignitaries.

Taking his place at the podium after receiving the Inspiration Award, Sir Roger Moore spoke of the day he was approached by Audrey Hepburn about the idea of becoming a Goodwill Ambassador and of the doubts he had about his ability to speak about humanitarian issues. Like Ban Ki-moon, he relied on humor. He said that he was told not to worry about answering questions about humanitarian issues and that people really wanted to talk about movies.

The Secretary General couldn’t resist referring to Sir Roger’s former career, saying “My name is Ban, not James Bond.”

“I was told never to work with animals and children. They didn’t tell me not to follow a Secretary General,” quipped Sir Roger.

Sir Roger paid tribute to the young journalists supported by the fund, who are given the chance to work at the UN, and encouraged them to continue the mission charted by Mr. Hammarskjöld.

“He wanted the world to know the truth and the world to be improved upon,” Sir Roger said. “To the recipients of the scholarship I would say: Continue, continue to tell the truth. The truth will eventually win.”

Celebrating three milestones

At the award ceremony, Sir Roger also revealed another important life achievement that occurred earlier this month, when he received his own star on Hollywood Boulevard. And Ms. Veneman announced a third milestone: Sir Roger’s 80th birthday.

“He is passionate, he is compassionate. He is a champion for children,” she said as a three-tiered cake was wheeled out, bearing – among other decorations – the colours of UNICEF. “Today we’re here to toast not only his award, but this very special important time in his life. Happy birthday to you.” 

Text: Chris Niles (UNICEF), Elisa Burchett (U.N Observer) and Marie-France Vienne (Sir Roger’s Official website)

Many thanks to Dheepa Pandian and Susan Markisz at UNICEF for their kind help.