Speech by H.E. Marianne Young, British High Commissioner to Namibia
on the occasion of the Queen’s Birthday Party, on 10 June
British High Commissioner’s Residence
• Good afternoon
• Honourable Speaker of the National Assembly - Professor Peter Katjavivi,
• Deputy Ministers and senior officials,
• Your Excellencies and members of the diplomatic corps,
• Distinguished Guests, including Baroness Lynda Chalker currently visiting us from London,
• members of the media,
• Ladies and Gentlemen - friends.
Welcome to the Residence on this crisp - almost British – afternoon.
We have a number of reasons to celebrate today:
- to mark the official birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II;
- to mark the birth of Her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana of Cambridge on the 2nd of May;
- to mark the 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta, the document that laid the foundations for the rights and representation that we enjoy today in the UK, which we often take for granted but we still need to work hard to preserve.
- And to mark 25 years of strong and healthy bilateral relations with the government and people’s of the Republic of Namibia.
But, in addition to all these good reasons to enjoy some British hospitality, this is also a bittersweet occasion for me personally. Today marks my last Queen’s Birthday Party with you – and almost the end of my time as the British High Commissioner to Namibia. This June marks my fourth year in the Land of the Brave – and it has been a wonderful experience for both myself and my family.
During our time in Namibia, we have made many friends, shared many wonderful experiences and, in less than two months, will be taking away many warm memories of my years spent strengthening UK-Namibian relations.
It has been a tremendous honour to be my country’s representative to the Republic of Namibia and it has been a great privilege to work with so many of you to achieve our shared goals of strengthening partnerships, co-operations and friendships.
I came to Namibia determined
- To work hard to identify shared interests and create the momentum to build close links to help deliver both UK and Namibian interests
- To be as creative as possible in generating a positive impact for the UK despite our limited resources
- To always think about what we can do, rather than what we can’t
- To build up our people to people links and reach out to a wide range of contacts and the British community at large
So, during my time here, I have made a real effort to travel the length and breadth of this stunning country and meet as many people as possible. This has really helped open my eyes to both the challenges and opportunities present here.
I am particularly proud of achieving a marked increase in our commercial and trade support work in Namibia – and the formation of the first British Business Group to the country.
I am proud of establishing the Consular Correspondents network – staffed by a terrific team of enthusiastic British nationals here – which helps look after the needs of wider British community spread across this vast country.
I am proud of our continued UK support for education and English language training through the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms programme and specialist teacher development training; as well as the provision of our specialist Peace Keeping English Programme to Namibian Defence Force officers, and British Council exam services.
I am proud of UK support to help with the introduction of modern community policing models in Namibia and our work with a number of amazing local NGOs tackling human rights issues, including gender based violence and baby dumping.
And, I am proud of our ongoing support for Namibia’s conservation activities, for working with tireless organisations, like Save the Rhino Trust, on tackling the Illegal Wildlife Trade, and strengthening local responses to the scourge of poaching.
Now, I could not have delivered any of these terrific services without the energetic support of my local and regional staff. As many of you know, I am the sole British diplomat serving in the High Commission in Windhoek - but I am supported by a tremendous team of dedicated Namibians, who help me run ambitious chancery and consular services.
I won’t embarrass individual members by singling them out - but want to thank them all for their hard work, creativity, patience, generosity of spirit and kindness. We have achieved some incredible results together and it has been a privilege to lead you. Thank you.
Our work in Namibia is also supported by colleagues from our regional hub Posts in South Africa - and am pleased to welcome my fully accredited deputy based in Cape Town, Ed Roman, who is with us today; and our Consular Regional Operations Manager, Sarah Morris, who has travelled from Pretoria to join us. Thank you both for being here.
Now, in addition to my wonderful staff and colleagues, there is another key member of the UK in Namibia family, who deserves very special thanks today – my husband Barry Young. Thank you Barry for being my rock during this extraordinary adventure, thank you for your support, your encouragement and for always doing the school run. I couldn’t have done it without you.
And thank you to my children for understanding why I couldn’t always do the bedtime story each night. I hope you will forgive me one day.
Whilst in this vein, I would also like to thank some key members of our British Business Group who have generously helped to sponsor today’s event and allowed us to showcase some great British products – including the fabulous Jaguar F-type in the drive. So a really big thank you to Shell, Tullow Oil, Weatherly Mining Namibia and Chariot Oil & Gas for sponsoring the refreshments, entertainment and flowers, and to Novel Motors for sourcing the vehicle. A big hand please. Thank you.
Now I can’t end without at least one mention of another great British export – and that is rugby. I am proud to tell you that today marks 100 days until the kick off of the Rugby World Cup being hosted in England and Wales this year from 18 September to 1 November. Special congratulations to the Namibian Rugby Union and Welwitschias for qualifying for the tournament.
To mark this bilateral sporting success, we have three special team jerseys - two from the Welsh team and one signed Namibian national jersey available - via a silent auction, that you will have seen details of at the entrance. All proceeds raised will go to the Namibian arm of the International Rugby Board’s development project: “Get into Rugby”, to help bring rugby development programmes to the regions and grass roots in Namibia.
So please do have a go at exceeding the current highest bidders signed up in the driveway - as it is for a very good cause. The auction will be open until 2.15pm, when we will close it and announce the winners. If you have any questions on this, please speak to Christian – and many thanks to the Namibian Rugby Union for their support with this and best of luck to all the teams taking part in the tournament in the UK.
And, lastly, thank you to all of you, our friends, for sharing this special day with us and for helping to make this posting so special over the last four years. We hope to see many of you in London, where we are heading back to in August.
It now gives me great pleasure, and some sadness, to propose the toasts for the last time. I would therefore like to invite the Guest of Honour, Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism, Hon. Tommy Nambahu, and the Honourable Speaker, Professor Peter Katjavivi, to join me and all of you for two special toasts today – so I hope your glasses are charged:
- Firstly to toast the health of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Excellency President Hage Geingob - and the Government and people of our two great nations:
The Queen and The President of Namibia.
- Secondly, to toast the safe arrival of Princess Charlotte of Cambridge.
I thank you and please enjoy the rest of the celebration.