We are thrilled to learn that our dearest friend and mentor Zerbanoo Gifford has been welcomed into the Honorable Society of the Knights of the Round Table.
Zerbanoo Gifford is the founder of the ASHA Centre near Flaxley, now globally recognised as one of the most vibrant places for young people to be empowered and taught the importance of sustainable living, the arts, and community understanding and action. Earlier this year 20 young Zoroastrians from all parts of the world gathered for a 10 day World Zoroastrian Young Leaders Forum. The 10 day event was the first of its kind.
Zerbanoo has just been welcomed into the ancient Honourable Society of the Knights of the Round Table, a three-hundred-year-old organisation set up to follow the chivalry of the knights of old with emphasis on (courtesy, mercy, faith, generosity and hospitality) as their model following in the footsteps of King Arthur and his knights.
Their motto “Non Nobis Solum Sed Toto Mundi Nati” translated means ” Not for us alone but for the whole world created.”
In 2003, following the sudden death of then Knight President Patrick, Earl of Limerick, the Society, hitherto an all-male club, elected to welcome the first female knight. Sylvia, Countess of Limerick, became the first lady knight.
The social and charitable programme undertaken by the knights has continued to flourish under succeeding Knight Presidents from, more recently, The Earl of Athlone to the now Rt Hon. Admiral Lord West of Spithead.
At a fabulous event worthy of Camelot, the President Admiral Lord West as King Arthur knighted Zerbanoo in the Armourers’ Hall in London. Attending her was her husband, the international lawyer Richard, and their youngest son, the play-write Alex, and the director of the ASHA Centre Adrian Locher. Alex and Adrian both escorted Zerbanoo to the knighting ceremony as ancient symbols of her two squires who presented her to King Arthur.
Also present was the evening’s guest speaker Cressida Dick, the first woman head of the Metropolitan police. For Zerbanoo it was an auspicious evening, as it was exactly one hundred years since women were given the vote. Zerbanoo had dedicated her life to women’s representation at every level of society and especially in public life. Zerbanoo mused that the PM was a woman, as were the leaders of the Scottish and Northern Ireland Parliaments and House of Lords. The head of the TUC, CBI, Post Office and even Fire brigade in London were women. Very recently, the wonderful Dr Who had decided to become a woman!
Zerbanoo has also been a recent guest speaker at the Knight’s annual Guinevere dinner, which was held at the beautiful Barber Surgeon Hall in the City of London. Subsequently she was invited to join the Round Table of Knights for her globally recognised work in the field of human rights and the founding the ASHA Centre in the Forest of Dean for the young. The work of ASHA reflected the charitable work undertaken by the Society of Knights to ensure talented young people from the diverse fields of arts, music, law and medicine were given financial support to undertake their studies.
It is hoped that many of the gifted young who benefit from such philanthropy will spend time at the ASHA Centre in the glorious Forest of Dean and be able to interact across disciplines and become friends. They will also be able to bond with their mentors the knights, who all have had stellar careers across the diplomatic, forces, medical, and literary and artistic worlds.
Zerbanoo commented that as a young girl she was enchanted by the tales of the fabulous King Arthur, his mentor the magician Merlin and the 12 knights in search for the holy grail. When young she never imagined she could become a knight of the round table. For her the quest for the holy grail is the search we all have: to understand the deeper meaning of life, why we are here in this world and how our lives can make a difference to others. The knights of the Round table are the best of the ancient British culture that we have offered the world. No wonder such greats such as Charles Dickens, Lord Alfred Tennyson, Baden Powell and many members of the Royal Houses of Britain and Europe were knights over the Society’s illustrious 300-year history to be celebrated in 2020.