By INÊS LOPES [email protected]
British and Portuguese citizens raised a glass to the “old alliance” at a special lunch organised by the British Consulate in the Algarve on November 25 at Faro’s Eva Hotel.
The event, attended by several Algarve dignitaries including Faro Civil Governor Isilda Gomes, Algarve tourism chief Nuno Aires and GNR and Polícia Judiciária representatives, aimed to celebrate the recent appointments of Clive Jewell as British Consul to the Algarve and Dr. Miguel Sengo da Costa as British Honorary Consul in Faro, as well as say goodbye to British Ambassador to Portugal Alex Ellis who will be leaving his post at the end of the year to become the Foreign Office’s Director of Strategy in London.
In his opening speech, Clive Jewell told guests he was proud to be the first long-time British resident to have been appointment the position of British Consul.
“I have lived in Portugal for 21 years, so I believe this makes me a legitimate representative.”
In his new role, the Consul said he hoped to strenghten ties between the Consulate and the different Portuguese offices represented at the lunch.
“I knew this was the job for me when I met the Ambassador in Lisbon for my interview,” he said, adding that he hoped to encourage greater integration of British citizens into community life.
Faro-based lawyer Dr. Miguel Sengo da Costa said that, as British Honorary Consul, he hoped to provide second line support to the Consulate in Portimão (read exclusive interview in last week’s edition of the Agarve Resident).
A highlight at the lunch was the speech made by Civil Governor Isilda Gomes, who said British-Portuguese relations have been particularly strengthened in the last three years thanks to the good communication the Algarve government representation had enjoyed with the British Embassy, led by a Portuguese-speaking Ambassador. “This was a great surprise,” she said.
“I don’t know whether to feel happy or sad to see Alex go but understand his new post certainly represents an exciting opportunity that was difficult to refuse.”
She added: “It is vital to maintain close diplomatic relations with the British Embassy due to the Algarve’s particular nature,” she said.
Referring to such cases as the disappearance of Madeleine McCann and the drowning of three British citizens at Tonel beach in Sagres, both in 2007, Isilda Gomes said: “We have had difficult times in recent years involving British citizens but the Embassy has always offered us vital support.”
This sentiment was shared by Alex Ellis, who said that working in partnership with the Portuguese authorities and the local press, particularly in the Algarve, was very important.
“Our biggest and most important consular resource is in the Algarve. Without these partnerships, we (the Embassy) are weak.”
Do you have a view on this story? Please email Editor Inês Lopes at [email protected]