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The Best of British – Celebrating the Great Campaign

On 26/11/13 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

When an invitation arrives on your desk to be a guest of Her Majesty’s Government in the Locarno Suite at the Foreign Office, you are certainly keen to go. Dating back to 1868 and designed by George Gilbert Scott, the Locarno Suite has recently been completely restored and is truly magnificent. Last night we were there to be thanked for our part in supporting the GREAT campaign.

When Ed Vaizey MP the Culture Minister stood to speak and apologise that Maria Miller the Secretary of State was unable to preside over proceedings, I was rather disappointed, but he then introduced what he described as two important guests: the Prime Minister and Jools Holland!

The Prime Minister began by saying that whether you saw Prince Harry on the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain or David Beckham supporting the campaign from around the world; the word ‘Great’ was clearly now back into Britain. The campaign has clearly helped the UK to export goods and services around the world and when you find that curry is being exported from Anglesey to India, you realise just what we as a country can do. He thanked all the partners who had made such a difference; the sports starts who helped promote the campaign; he talked about going to Calcutta to back promoting Britain and how heritage, innovation, knowledge, history, shopping, culture and entrepreneurship single us out as a nation. After a quip that normally the Chancellor made all funding announcements, but that actually he was the 2nd Secretary to the Treasury; the Prime Minister being the first; he then went onto announce that funding for the GREAT campaign has been extended for 2 years until 2016.

To celebrate that Music is GREAT, we were then entertained by two songs by Jools Holland and as a friend of mine remarked as we were leaving, I only wish I could play like that!

Whilst they were not serving beer, I discussed our Pubs are GREAT and Heritage is GREAT (for beer), with Number 10 and VisitBritain. We are certainly one of the more popular posters used around the world and pubs remain number three on the list of places to visit for overseas visitors coming to the UK.

On a personal note Sir Robin Knox-Johnston with whom I used to sit on the Board of Sport England was there, flying off to Australia today to see his Clipper fleet and expecting to take part in the Sydney to Hobart race on Boxing Day! He is 74 and I told him that I would be very proud if I was still sailing at his age – his reply – I am sure you will be!


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