The Long Riders' Guild

Dalai Lama honours Long Rider hero of Tibetan struggle


After battling for Tibet’s freedom for more than sixty years, Scottish Long Rider, George Patterson, (right) was presented with the Light of Truth Award by officials of the International Campaign for Tibet.

Thanks to his efforts to assist the Tibetan nation, legendary Scottish Long Rider, George Patterson, received the prestigious Light of Truth Award from the International Campaign for Tibet.

Having gone to the remote country in 1947, the young Scotsman began living and riding with the mounted Khamba tribesmen. After two years, Patterson had mastered the language and local customs, the result being that the resilient Long Rider had become nearly Tibetan himself. Then in 1949 word came that the Chinese Communists were preparing to invade Patterson's adopted homeland.

In desperate need of military aid and international protection, Tibetan leaders asked Patterson to make a perilous winter-time horse ride over the Himalayas into neighbouring India. The subsequent equestrian journey through the snow-covered Himalayas nearly slew the valiant Scotsman and his intrepid Tibetan companions.

"We had to deal with blizzards that came virtually every day," he said. "I slept with the horses some of the time, I even slept with a yak, just to get the body heat because it was biting cold. The Tibetans didn't use tents, so it was easier to go with what they were used to. They used to find dung from previous travelling parties and set it alight using sparks from their matchlock guns."

Though he had survived this nearly impossible task, Patterson was halted from returning to Tibet by a host of difficulties and new hazards. Yet his loyalty to the Tibetan cause never wavered. He began using his journalistic skills to make impassioned appeals for justice. When that call was ignored by the global community, Patterson assisted in the escape of the Dalai Lama from Chinese-occupied Tibet. He also led an undercover film team into Tibet, which provided the first glimpse of the war-ravaged country.

As a result, the enraged Chinese authorities issued orders to have Patterson liquidated, a death sentence which has never been rescinded. Disregarding these danger, Patterson has tirelessly campaigned on behalf of Tibet for more than sixty-years.

In recognition of Patterson’s tremendous efforts, His Highness, the Dalai Lama authorized the Light of Truth Award to be bestowed to Patterson. This honour is reserved for individuals who have made significant contributions to the fight for human rights and democracy for the Tibetan people. Normally the award is personally presented by the Dalai Lama, but because of Patterson's poor health, Tibetan officials travelled to Scotland to present it to the ailing Long Rider.

In 2008 the Dalai Lama met his old friend, Scottish Long Rider George Patterson, at a special gathering in Oxford.

(Click to enlarge)

To learn more about Patterson’s astonishing equestrian travel book, “Journey with Loshay,” to discover how he assisted the Tibetan resistance, or to view any of his other books on political and spiritual matters, visit his page on Classic Travel Books.