Hetty Crist

Hetty Crist

Deputy Press Secretary

Part of UK in USA

21st December 2012 Washington DC, USA

2012 and all that. A GREAT year for Britain

According to Wikipedia, Prosperity is the state of flourishing, thriving, good fortune and / or successful social status. Prosperity often encompasses wealth but also includes others factors which are independent of wealth to varying degrees, such as happiness and health. It’s also (with a capital ‘P’) the word the Foreign Office uses to describe one of our key tasks: restoring growth and, yes, prosperity to the British economy.

GREAT Britain

It’s been a good year….a very good year. I’ve just returned from London where I attended a conference about Prosperity. It proved to be most useful, with some 250 Prosperity folk from across the FCO Global Network coming together in the name of growing the UK economy and promoting what is best about Britain. We listened to forecasts from the Government and from businesses and from each other, as we discussed what had worked for us this year in our Banner year of 2012.

So how prosperous has the UK been in 2012? As the clock struck 12 on January 1st this year, the nation began to dream about Diamond Jubilees and Olympic gold medals, affectionately known as the ‘Jubilympics’. The Jubilee was fabulous—no one will forget our Monarch in the driving rain on the Thames in her Flotilla (in contrast we had lovely weather for our celebration in Washington DC). The whole world seemed to celebrate with us—unsurprisingly, since our second longest serving Monarch is extremely popular around the world, especially in the US. Much happiness and health was ours in June.

The Olympics were everything we dreamed of and more. Despite a wet summer, a spot of rain didn’t put off the throngs of people (some 80 million tickets sold) who helped cheer on British superstars Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah to Gold. As a life-size Wenlock mascot rushed onto the track to celebrate with Mo, I wondered how much of the ever-so-popular Olympic merchandise would be sold over the course of the games. £1billion in revenue was predicted but final figures are still to come in. The Olympics has brought us much good fortune this year.

Speaking of making a profit, at this week’s conference we heard directly from business how profitable the Creative Sector is for the UK. It may be home to less than one per cent of the world’s population but it has the largest creative sector in the world. Every year we export over £8.9billion music hits, fashion forward styles, un-put–down-able reads and box office record breakers. Something I learnt at the Prosperity conference was how the luxury fashion sector had been growing strongly worldwide. It seems that, when the global economy took a hit, ‘Luxury Nomads’ who travel round Europe continued to buy the brands they love and respect. Partly as a result of these fashion-forward travellers, we can expect a 7 – 10% growth in this area in the next 5 years.

Back home last Thursday night, I caught the end of the British Comedy Awards. I was just in time to watch the return (after a 10 year absence) of ‘Ali G’, as his creator Sasha Baron Cohen won the Outstanding Achievement Award. He jokingly praised the iPhone (which he rechristened the ‘aiiiiight’ phone), saying: “The iPhone, 2, 3, 4 and 5—who can know what is coming next?!” The iPhone is of course itself a British success story, having been designed by another great Englishman and Essex boy, Sir ‘Jony’ Ive. Baron Cohen’s film, The Dictator, was another popular export of 2012, grossing $179m at box offices worldwide. But the film that has done the most for the UK this year is the new James Bond film Skyfall, which had the biggest opening weekend of any Bond film and has been the biggest grossing film at the UK box office ever, achieving £94.28m over just 40 days in the UK. In comparison, I think it took previous record-holder Avatar about six months to achieve similar figures.

So what does 2013 have in store for the UK? More films, more fashion and more music, no doubt. Sasha Baron Cohen is set to start filming the Queen biopic in the spring, in which he’ll play Freddie Mercury. The next instalment of The Hobbit , (a story originally written by a Brit, starring many British actors and with music by the London Philharmonic Orchestra) is scheduled to come out. AC/DC and Iron Maiden are both scheduled to release new studio albums, as are Stereophonics and Motorhead. Tim Henman – and the rest of us – will be expecting big things from Andy Murray next year. Fashion-wise it’s all about ladylike belted floral dresses, feminine collarless blouses – and bare midriffs

Above all, I hope the UK will thrive and continue to experience good fortune. Economic projections now are more favourable than at the start of 2012 and private sector jobs are on the rise, so I hope that we can continue in our global race to even bigger and GREATer things. I can truly say that I’m proud of Britain this year; I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a healthy, happy and Prosperous New Year.

About Hetty Crist

Hetty Crist served as the Deputy Press Secretary at the British Embassy in Washington. Educated at the University of Northumbria at Newcastle (the same as Jonny Ive!) Hetty has worked…

Hetty Crist served as the Deputy Press Secretary at the British Embassy in Washington. Educated at the University of Northumbria at Newcastle (the same as Jonny Ive!) Hetty has worked in a range of communications roles in both the public and private sector at companies including Microsoft, The Institute of Directors and The National Autistic Society. She joined the British Embassy in July 2010 having previously worked for seven years in government communications roles in London at both The Department of Health and The Foreign Office. In Washington Hetty was responsible for communications work around the UK Economy and the Eurozone, Energy, Trade, and UK domestic, legal and judicial issues as well as Consular and Corporate issues. Her work also included highlighting all that the UK has to offer through the cross-government GREAT Campaign and the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

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