Visit of the British Ambassador’s Family
Monday, 12 September 2022
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By David Gray
At one point on the morning of Friday, 26 August, I had a phone call from somebody whom I did not recognise who turned out to be the newly appointed British ambassador, Hamish Cowell, whose Iranian wife wanted to visit Brummana High School before she returned to England with their 3 children at the week end. He has only been in his new post (previously he was British Ambassador to Oman) for about 3 weeks, so, as I had no appointments in the morning, I suggested that he came over and visited the school with his wife and children. Once they arrived I discovered that the reason that they wanted to visit was that his wife’s father was an old scholar of Brummana High School and had left the school in 1929, almost a hundred years ago. The family was delightful and they took pictures of the campus and buildings, of the Founder’s bust and of all of us together outside my office overlooking Beirut so that they could take these mementos back to the ambassador’s mother in law who had never visited Brummana but knew that her late husband had been an alumnus of the school. In the course of our conversation it turned out that the ambassador’s wife had read the book “Persepolis” which is taught here at IB and that her experience at the time of the Iranian revolution was very similar to the central character in the book. As we continued to talk, it emerged that not only was her father an Old Scholar of Brummana High School, but the ambassador’s father was an Old Scholar of Stewart’s Melville college in Edinburgh, one of the schools of which I was Principal for 18 years. It also transpired that he spent all his summer holidays of his youth at an address in Inverness just 300 metres from where I was born and grew up; the world is a very small place. We concluded our get together by his agreeing to be the guest speaker at the Brummana High School 150th Graduation ceremony and Speech day in 2023. Given the school’s history and origins, it is good to have close links with the British embassy who can be helpful to us when it is needed.