The Australian Skeptics were delighted to award the first annual “Fred” (or The Thornett Award for the Promotion of Reason) at the Skeptics’ Convention at the University of Queensland in Brisbane on the 28th of November 2009.
The “Fred” is named after Fred Thornett, a noted member of Australian Skeptics from Tasmania, who died in April 2009. Such was his contribution to the skeptical movement, that his friends thought it fitting to honour his memory in some way. The “Fred” Award is the result. Fred’s widow Ludmila Thornett was on hand to present the award on what would have been Fred’s 71st birthday.
In addition to a commemorative certificate, $1,000 is awarded to the recipient or to a charity or cause of their choice.
The Thornett Award for the Promotion of Reason for 2009 went to Toni and David McCaffery. The McCafferys lost their daughter Dana Elizabeth McCaffery in March 2009 at 4 weeks of age from Whooping Cough. Sadly, she is one of three babies that have died from this vaccine preventable disease in Australia this year. Since then Toni and David have been tireless campaigners both for the benefits of vaccination and against the tide of scaremongering and misinformation regarding the safety and efficacy of vaccines.
Toni and David decided to donate the money awarded to them to the Children’s Hospital Westmead, who are commencing a study into the link between mothers’ pertussis antibodies and babies diagnosed with Pertussis, in an effort to prevent it.
“We implore people when they want information they access reputable sources,” Mrs McCaffery said.
Australian Skeptics congratulate the McCafferys for their brave stand in the name of reason.