By Jason Moore
Palma.The new British Consul to the Balearics, Andrew Gwatkin, visited the offices of the Majorca Daily Bulletin yesterday in Palma just hours after taking up his new appointment.
Gwatkin's area of responsibility now includes the Balearics which he will direct from his offices in Barcelona where he is Consul General. He praised the work of former British Consul Paul Abrey who was the last British Consul to the Balearics and who has now returned to the private sector after seven successful years as Consul. Under a new Foreign Office plan, which has caused some controversy, the Balearics will no longer have its own British Consul, but a second Vice Consul will be recruited for the Consulate in Palma.
The Consulate here will continue to work as normal looking after the needs of British expatriates and visiting tourists, Gwatkin said yesterday.
A close friend of Paul Abrey and a former colleague of his at Barclays Bank, Gwatkin underlined the strengths of the Consular team in Palma which will now be led by Vice Consul Gillian Brion.
We will start the recruitment process of a second Vice Consul shortly, he said, adding that he hoped that people would apply for the job locally, because of their knowledge of Majorca and its British community. The second Vice Consul will work directly under Gillian along with the other members of the Consular team. The staff will also increase during the busy summer months.
Gwatkin, whose area of responsibility now stretches from Minorca to Andorra, is a major fan of Majorca and he has spent many holidays on the island. As a keen cyclist this island is a real gem, he said.
My door will always be open to the British community in the Balearics. I will be making periodic visits with no specified timeline, he said, adding that he would visit when required.
The Consul General was especially interested to hear about some of the top British expatriate events and he said that he would be keeping his diary free for them.
Gwatkin, who speaks fluent Spanish and some Catalan, was due to meet with the Central Government Delegate to the Balearics, Teresa Palmer, yesterday and today he will be meeting with the Balearic President Jose Ramon Bauza.
During his visit to our offices he met our Chairman Pere Serra, the Managing Director Miguel Serra, the editor of Ultima Hora, Pedro Comas, the editor of the Majorca Daily Bulletin Jason Moore and Deputy editor Humphrey Carter. The Consul General has agreed to write a regular column for the Bulletin and during the meeting a number of joint projects were discussed as the Bulletin moves towards its 50th birthday next year.
While the loss of a permanent British Consul to the Baleatics was a blow and a decision which the Bulletin will continue to oppose, Andrew Gwatkin does appear to be the right man for the job.
Paul Abrey´s lasting legacy will be the excellent Consulate team that he built up over the years which will continue to serve the British community across the Balearics. As Andrew Gwatkin said: I look forward to my new role in the Balearics and I hope that it will be a fruitful relationship.