Published: September 2nd 2010July 30th 2010
In my second week at the British High Commission, the main focus of activity was the arrival of a Lifeboat donated by the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) to the Seychelles Coastguard. I got to exercise my press skills, writing the press release and speech for the handover ceremony and more thrillingly, got an invite to the handover itself - how’s that for dediciation (and a desire to do anything different) that myself and the other one found ourselves up early on a saturday morning to bear witness to this event. For Queen and Country and all that.
As we strode through a type of Guard of Honour formation and the band struck up as we entered the marquee, I have to say I was a little embarassed- like being the second cousin of the bride’s great uncle - what the hell were we doing there in the company of the Seychelles Home and Foreign Affair’s Ministers, the Commander of the Coastguard, Navy and other military and Embassy representatives? Worse, I had to restrain myself from tucking into the fish samosas that were piled up temptingly on the buffet table. The High Commissioner gave the speech with a few expected details and embellishments (though it was my words that made it onto the news hurrah!) and the assorted dignitaries got aboard the lifeboat and we instead had a tour round the Topaz, the jewel in the crown of the coastguard’s fleet, that has been central to the clampdown on pirates. After the VIP’s return, the other one and I ask for a tour of the lifeboat from the Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) engineer who looked after it while it was in service (before it was bought by the FCO) and it was amazing to see how every inch of space is utilised- and in its 10+ years it saved the lives of over 130 people. One thing I love about being here and also my time working in Government, you have opportunities to see and meet people that you might never usually get - like seeing Colin Powell speak at the Millenium Dome, attending meetings at No.10 and marching through Hyde (in Manchester) with the Bengali community culminating in a heap of speeches in Bengali that neither I or the Minister could understand. Ho hum.