About Us

Reverence for Life UK is a charity that puts Albert Schweitzer’s ethic of Reverence for Life into practice. We believe that by supporting projects guided by this ethic we can move towards a world where all life is cared for and respected.  

The ethic of Reverence for Life recognises that every form of life has value. It offers a vision of a world where life is harmed only under necessity and never from thoughtlessness. It articulates a mindset of compassion and kindness towards all life. Reverence for Life is the deep awe and wonder we experience when we realise that we are connected to everything that lives. 

Schweitzer demonstrated how to live and work by his ethic. He trained to be a doctor and in 1913 set up a hospital in Lambarene, Gabon- then a province of French Equatorial Africa. He dedicated his life to providing healthcare and saw his humanitarian work as a means of turning his ethic into action. In 1952, he won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work at the hospital and his contributions to philosophy. 

Our charity follows in the footsteps of Albert Schweitzer and supports projects, in the UK and internationally, that use Reverence for Life to guide how they make decisions and structure their plans for development. We too want to put Reverence for Life into action. 

Our Aims

To put Albert Schweitzer’s ethic of Reverence for Life into action by:

  • Undertaking and supporting projects that express the ethic of Reverence for Life in practice.
  • Being actively inclusive, promoting equality and diversity, demonstrating that Reverence for Life applies to all humanity equally.
  • Respecting all life on earth, encouraging biodiversity and sustainable living.

Our Story

Reverence for Life UK has a personal connection to Albert Schweitzer as two of our members, Percy and Vreni Mark, worked at the hospital in Lambarene with Albert Schweitzer during 1962-1963. 

The origins of Reverence for Life UK can be traced back to 1925, when the Dr. Schweitzer’s Hospital Fund was set up to manage the sterling donations Schweitzer received. Schweitzer toured the UK numerous times giving lectures and organ recitals to raise money for his hospital. 

Dr. Schweitzer’s Hospital Fund, consolidated by trust deed in 1959, continued to administer Schweitzer’s sterling account, which had accumulated during his lifetime.  After Schweitzer’s death in 1965, the Dr. Schweitzer’s Hospital Fund, under the chair, Sir Clement Chesterman, purchased land in Lambarene, on which a new hospital was built in 1981, adjacent to the original hospital.

James Witchalls became chair of the Dr. Schweitzer’s Hospital Fund from 1979-1994. He was also president of the International Albert Schweitzer Association from 1982-1994. 

During that time, Percy and Vreni Mark, became very involved. Vreni Mark acted as James Witchalls’s secretary and interpreter at conferences held in East Germany, Poland and the UK. From 1985, she also helped Ali Silver, the director of the museum in the Maison Albert Schweitzer in Guensbach, Schweitzer’s birthplace in the Alsace. Before her death in 1987, Ali appointed Vreni as director, a role she held for two years before passing it onto Sonja Poteau.

In 1995, Percy Mark became the chair of the Dr. Schweitzer’s Hospital Fund. The objectives defined in the trust deed only allowed for the support of hospitals managed in the spirit of Schweitzer.

But as Percy and Vreni Mark wanted to also promote the philosophy of Schweitzer they created a new charity called Friends of Albert Schweitzer UK, and later, in 2003, this charity changed its name to Reverence for Life UK. The Dr. Schweitzer’s Hospital Fund and Reverence for Life UK ran in parallel until the charities were incorporated in 2014. 

In 2016, Percy Mark stepped down and their son James Mark is now the chair. In 2023, the charity became a Charitable Incorporated Organisation. 

Reverence for Life UK is a registered charity in the UK. Charity No.1197043
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