1961 - Patrick Colquhoun: ‘That week changed my life’

By Michael Smith

Patrick Colquhoun
Frank Buchman
Frank Buchman

Patrick Colquhoun arrived in Caux on 7 August 1961, after finishing at Oxford. ‘Papers about Moral Re-Armament (now Initiatives of Change) sent to me by a friend over the previous three years invariably ended in the bin,’ he says. ‘But in my final term, I realized that Moral Re-Armament’s standards of honesty, purity, unselfishness and love were integral to Politics, Philosophy and Economics, which I had studied.’

His arrival was on the day Frank Buchman, the founder of Moral Re-Armament (MRA), died in Freudenstadt, Germany.

Buchman’s message was simple: ‘If you want to change the world start with yourself’. Patrick recalls: ‘Everyone was talking about this man I didn’t like, because I knew that, if his ideas were right, my way of life would need to change.’

I knew that, if his ideas were right, my way of life would need to change.

As part of his investigations before going to Caux, Patrick went to see Sir Richard Jackson, Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and President of Interpol.

‘He advised, “Stick to facts, see if they are effective and see if they live what they talk about.” Hence, many people I met in Caux got the third degree from me and wondered why I was so negative. But that week changed my life. I met a British politician there who suggested I give my life to God, which I did.’


1961 Memorial service Freudenstadt Frank Buchman
Funeral service for Frank Buchman on 11 August 1961 in Freudenstadt,


Patrick extended his stay in Caux to join a special train, which took conference participants to Buchman’s funeral service in Freudenstadt.

‘On that journey two memorable things happened. A young Ghanaian sitting next to me explained, regarding seeking God’s direction, why being in the right place at the right time was important. I also vividly remember the smile of the young woman serving refreshments. I didn’t know her, but 10 years later, Frances Cameron married me.

Although surprised at the direction my life was taking, they knew they could trust me.

‘On my return home, I apologized to a brother who I had always treated badly. I was honest with my parents about aspects of my life hitherto kept from them. It confirmed some of their fears and relieved others. So, although surprised at the direction my life was taking, they knew they could trust me.’


Patrick Colquhoun and Solzenitsyn, Eton May 1983 (credit: Patrick Patrick Colquhoun)
Patrick (right) with Alexander Solzhenitsyn (2nd from right) at Eton College, May 1983


Since then Patrick has devoted his life to full-time charitable work. In 1980 with some MRA colleagues he founded the Anglo-Nordic Productions Trust, to make One Word of Truth, a film based on the undelivered 1970 Nobel Prize for Literature Lecture of the Russian dissident, Alexander Solzhenitsyn. The film highlights the moral and spiritual values essential to freedom. Available in 17 languages, it is used especially in education.

In 1990, after the fall of the Iron Curtain, Patrick founded Medical Support in Romania to work with Romanians to reform their country’s healthcare, by piloting changes at the large Salaj County Hospital in Zalau. The charity has arranged for 268 British medics to visit the  hospital, at their own expense, delivering medical equipment and training staff: a total of 514 trips in all. Staff from Zalau have made 106 visits to the UK for training.


Patrick Colquhoun in Romania  (credit: Patrick Patrick Colquhoun)
Patrick (centre) with medical staff in Romania


Patrick’s team have made a strong stand against corruption in healthcare, common in all former communist countries at the time.

In 1998 he was made an honorary citizen of Zalau and in 2010 was decorated by Prince Charles. He made his 80th visit to Romania in 2019, his own 80th year.


Watch the film One Word of Truth on Alexander Solzhenitsyn's undelivered 1970 Nobel Prize for Literature Lecture.




This story is part of our series 75 Years of Stories about individuals who found new direction and inspiration through Caux, one for each year from 1946 to 2021. If you know a story appropriate for this series, please do pass on your ideas by email to John Bond or Yara Zhgeib. If you would like to know more about the early years of Initiatives of Change and the conference centre in Caux please click here and visit the platform For A New World.


  • Photos Solzhenitsyn, Romania, top: Patrick Colquhoun
  • Photo F. Buchman: Initiatives of Change
  • Photo funeral service: Arthur Strong
  • Video One Word of Truth: Solzhenitsyn Centre (on Youtube)



Featured Story
Event Categories
75 stories 75th anniversary

related stories

Ramez Salame credit: Inner Change

1968: Ramez Salame – ‘I gave away my gun’

Ramez Salamé was a 21-year-old law student from Beirut, Lebanon, when he took part in a leadership training course for young people in Caux – a precursor of the scores of similar programmes which have...

Teame Mebrahtu photo: John Bond

1967: Teame Mebrahtu – ‘It’s immaterial where I live’

Teame Mebrahtu came to Caux in 1967, five years after his homeland of Eritrea was annexed by Ethiopia. The liberation struggle – which was to continue for three decades – was gaining momentum. Resentm...

Buth Diu (photo Arthur Strong)

1966: Buth Diu – Not who is right but what is right

In 1966, a senior Sudanese politician, Buth Diu, presented the London headquarters of Moral Re-Armament (now Initiatives of Change) with spears and a hippotamus leather shield, as a token of his desir...

Robert Carmichael and Indian

1965: Robert Carmichael - Industry which puts people first

In 1965, the first freely negotiated agreement between industrialized and developing nations on the price of a raw material was signed in Rome. This pioneering accord was in large part the work of an ...

Daw Nyein Tha (from Joyful revolutionary) square

1964: Daw Nyein Tha – ‘When I point my finger at my neighbour’

You never knew who you might meet in the Caux kitchens in the 1960s. The kitchen which prepared dishes for Asian guests was presided over by a small Burmese woman in her 60s. Few would have guessed th...

Muriel Smith

1963: Muriel Smith – A voice for racial healing

Near the coffee bar in the Caux Palace stands a grand piano, the gift of American mezzo-soprano Muriel Smith. She was a familiar face at Caux conferences in the 1960s, filling the meeting hall and the...

Walking Buffalo portrait

1962: Chief Walking Buffalo – Respect and protect Mother Earth

In 1962, a documentary about a remarkable 62,000-mile journey was premiered in Caux. Two years before, Chief Walking Buffalo of the Nakoda (Stoney) Nation and Chief David Crowchild of the Tsuut’ina (S...

Marcel Grandy and Archbishop Makarios

1960 - Cyprus: 'Hope never dies'

There are few problems in the world that have not found some echo in the conferences and encounters in Caux since 1946. In 1960 Cyprus gained its independence, after several years of sometimes violent...

Lennart Segerstrale

1959 – Lennart Segerstråle: ‘Art must be dangerous to evil’

In 1959, a vast fresco was unveiled on the wall of the dining room of the Caux Palace. Its creator, the Finnish artist Lennart Segerstråle, chose the universal image of water to represent his vision o...

Caux school 4

1958 - Angela Elliott: At school in Caux

Angela Cook (later Elliott) arrived in Caux in 1958, aged four. She was one of some 40 children who lived in Caux at different times between 1955 and 1965, attending a small chalet school just up the ...

Jessie Bond 1945

1957 - Jessie Bond: 'I saw his greatness'

Jessie Bond was struggling to cope with four children and her husband’s frequent outbursts. She was seriously thinking of leaving him when they went to Switzerland to spend the summer in Caux. A time ...

Zeller family black and white

1956 – The Zellers: A family invested in Caux

‘We had the great joy of deciding to sell our house and give the money to Caux,’ Anneli Zeller told the conference on the 29 July 1956. ‘The man we sold it to was so impressed that he gave 10,000 Swis...

Freedom scene square

1955 - Freedom: 'Do you think you could write a play?'

‘We were catapulted into history,’ said Manasseh Moerane, one of the writers of Freedom. The play was seen by 30,000 people all over Europe and demand was so great that they decided to make a film. Fr...