Archive for January 17th, 2012


Farewell to “Our woman in Kyiv” – Judith Gardiner

January 17, 2012

Today I am supposed to be attending the leaving function of Judith Gardiner, Deputy Head of Mission (Second in Command) of HM Embassy Kyiv.

Unfortunately due to a rather heavy cold I will not be going despite a genuine desire to be there.  Whilst numerous pharmaceutical wonders undoubtedly will mask the symptoms, being responsible for infecting all others present is not something I would wish to be remembered for.

Of course emailed apologies have been duly sent in good time to HM Ambassador and to Judith individually.

The reason for this post, aside from a public bon voyage and bonne chance with regards to Judith as I am unable to pass on such wishes in person, is also to publicly recognise the sterling service that Judith gave to me as well as recognising the lighthearted (and in good taste) emailed banter from “Our woman in Kyiv” and myself.

As far too few will say thank you for her time and effort, I can at least do so for myself in the public domain.  Manners maketh man as my Mum drilled into me.

Now I have never been one to cause a problem for our people in Kyiv.  There has been no time when I have needed to call on our Embassy in times of need having got myself into a situation whereby they have had to intervene on my behalf.  The same applied to my time in Moscow.

However, of all our Embassy staff, Judith has been the most helpful, frank and entertaining of them, both in person and by email.  It is also fair to say, now completing her second tour of duty in Ukraine, she is hardly naive when it comes to matters Ukrainian.

It is with regards to getting things done, or more accurately pointing me in the right direction to investigate matters further myself, that Judith has been extremely helpful.  I suspect her occasional assistance would not have been forthcoming from others in her position and dismissed out of hand.

Choosing my words carefully and making an empirical judgement based on my years working in the public service as an extremely small cog two very big public service machines, but in doing so coming into contact with numerous civil servants and politicians, it is fair to say she ranks very highly in my esteem.  In short Judith is a solid citizen (to use an old-school expression) with a sense of humour I can relate to.

I trust her next few years as Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Bishkek will be enjoyable.  An appointment which is undoubtedly deserved and I am sure all Embassy staff in Bishkek will be relieved to know such a worthy individual is en route.  I am sure Kyrgyzstan will be a challenge (as will all Central Asia as a geopolitical region in the immediate future).

As for her replacement, Mr Martin Day, meeting him will have to be delayed as I am certain not to be forgiven for inflicting illness upon him unnecessarily.  It is rather juvenile to imagine him in Judith’s shoes, and one suspects her shoes are smaller than those of Mr Day, at least physically, however, metaphorically speaking  they will be very hard to fill.

Nevertheless, adieu, bonne chance and bon voyage Mrs Gardiner and please accept my public thanks for the assistance given to me in the past.  I am pleased your ticky box FCO appraisal was as good as it deserved to be and a suitable appointment made as a result.

(For some reason my public service appraisals always employed some very long words designed to encourage whilst keep me in my place in the scheme of things.  I don’t suppose things have changed much.)

Suffice to say I will keep my eye on the FCO appointments and the Honours Lists in future to see where you go and if you get a little enameled gong with St George and a dragon on it!

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