British community in Portugal needs to stick together

By CHRIS GRAEME [email protected]

The intention to re-launch the Royal British Club (RBC) in Lisbon and drum up new members was announced last Thursday at the British Ambassador’s residence in Lisbon.

John Duggan, RBC Honorary Secretary, said: “When I came here in the 1980s and had my first contact with the RBC at the time, while it still had a number of quite active members and events, people were already speaking with much nostalgia about the much greater relationship the club had both with the British community and business in previous years.

“While I think it would be rather over ambitious to try and scale those dizzy heights, I do believe that the RBC has a function to perform within the society, as it is important that people stick together.”

It was acknowledged that times had changed and there was not the same need or demand for the sort of club that had existed at the time with the activities that it offered to its members.

It was no longer the case that people came to Portugal and were stuck far from home, with the advent of telephone, email and regular flights to and from the United Kingdom.

Tentatively, the RBC is starting off with a membership drive and a number of events including a provisional date for a wine appreciation event for November 12, the annual Down-the-line Christmas Lunch at the Hotel Baía in Cascais on December 9, with other wine and port appreciation events in 2011.

The RBC, it was heard, was one of the few exceptions to the current difficult financial situation since it was in a good financial state with funds being used for the future benefit of the club.

The British Ambassador, Alex Ellis, said: “I am a great believer in clubs and a great believer in community” and added that the embassy was “a small part of a much bigger community”.

“If there is one very obvious message that has come out of the British Government in the UK, it is about the community sustaining each other through some quite choppy waters economically speaking.”

Simona Demuro, the British Consul in Lisbon, who is also the Vice-President of the Royal British Club, said that the club’s mission statement was not that “dissimilar” from the British Consulate’s own mission statement, which is to “help, serve and reach”, which is what the British Consulate is all about, providing high quality Consular support to British nationals abroad.

Its remit is not only to provide support to all the British nationals, such as tourists, but also the British community living in Portugal, both temporary and long-term.

Simona Demuro said that UK nationals should register with ‘LOCATE’ through the Consulate’s online registration system created by the Foreign Office and accessed anywhere in the world.

“By being on ‘LOCATE’, the Consulate knows where a UK resident is in case of an emergency, enabling family and friends to know where he/she is,” she said.

This system is intended for British nationals travelling abroad, on holiday or for work, and is also for British nationals who are resident and living abroad.

“I would encourage everyone to register on ‘LOCATE’ and spread the word,” she concluded.

For further information about the Royal British Club, please visit www.royalbritishclub.pt or email [email protected] For information about the British Consulate, please visit http://ukinportugal.fco.gov.uk/en/help-for-british-nationals/