Rev J.D. [Boet] van Schalkwyk, CEO and Principal of the Sailors’ Society of South Africa, was recently awarded the South African Gold Medal of Merit of the Military and Hospitaller Order of St Lazarus of Jerusalem at a ceremony in Cape Town.

Awarded for meritorious service to the Grand Bailiwick of South Africa, Rev Van Schalkwyk is one of only two persons in South Africa who hold this honour.

Rev Van Schalkwyk has been a member of the Order of St Lazarus for over thirty years, having been admitted to the Order as Assistant Chaplain in February 1983 and promoted to full Chaplain in March 1988.

He has had a long and distinguished career as the Air Force Chaplain, a Port chaplain and as a Presbyterian Church minister in the then Northern Transvaal, East London and Pretoria. This has included stints as the Moderator of these Presbyteries..

Since 2002, he has held the position of Principal Chaplain, National Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of the International Sailors’ Society, Southern Africa. On many occasions he has been called upon to take a lead in assisting those without the privileges so many take for granted. A few of these initiatives – amongst others – have seen Rev Van Schalkwyk working with the SACC amongst the refugees of East Mpumalanga informal settlements [1984-88], the peace initiative in the former Ciskei, or assisting the trauma victims of pirates off the East African coast.

He also established and co-ordinated the Sub-Saharan Crisis Network, and has worked, more recently, in Nigeria, Mozambique and Algeria.

At the award ceremony, the Grand Bailiff said “It is clear that you are a deeply caring, compassionate and organised leader who cares deeply for his fellow man.  Our warm congratulations to you on this award. “

[The Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem was founded as a Hospitaller Order in 370AD and as a Military Order in 1098. The military order of St Lazarus of Jerusalem originated in a leper hospital.  Now the Order focuses upon serving and on people who have served humanity in meritorious ways.]