Jonathan Knott

Former British ambassador to Hungary, Budapest

Part of UK in Hungary

24th June 2013 Budapest, Hungary

Swimming for the life savers

I’ve long been a supporter of British lifesavers.  Ever since I briefly was a lifesaver myself as a student holiday job. And recently I’ve become a trustee of the Lifeboat Fund in the UK. So I’ve been looking for a chance to pick up that cause now that I’m here in Hungary. I’m very pleased to say I’ve found it.

Sándor Bagyó, Lajos Kósa, Jonathan Knott and Ferenc Demjén
Sándor Bagyó, Lajos Kósa, Jonathan Knott and Ferenc Demjén

I’ve got to know the Hungarian Lifesavers’ organisation (Vízimentők Magyarországi Szakszolgálata) this year. I’ve visited their HQ at Balaton, have met their volunteers and have even taken part in a rescue they’ve done. They’re a really inspirational team. But I’ve also come to know the limitations they face in trying to keep Balaton safe for swimmers and those who enjoy water sports there. Among them financial. It’s an expensive business to run what is effectively an emergency service, and they rely (like the RNLI) on donations to cover their costs. I’m discussing with their president, and now my friend, Sandor Bagyó, how I can help given my experience in raising funds and running a similar charity. In particular, I’m keen to have the Hungarian and British lifesavers establish some sort of a relationship. Not sure how it’ll work, but I’m determined to do it.

I also wanted to do something very personal to help. So I’m now raising money jointly for the Hungarian Lifesavers and the RNLI (through the Lifeboat Fund). And rather than rattle a tin at Embassy events I’m doing that by looking for sponsorship for me to do the Cross-Balaton Swim (the “Átúszás”). This is absolutely not an official, British government thing: it’s just something I feel passionate about. I’ve asked British and Hungarian friends to support me and have set up a separate bank account for donations, to ensure total transparency. An account to which no-one has access and which will automatically transfer funds to the two organisations at the end of the appeal. My thanks to friends at OTP for setting that up for me.

Training has been pretty hard. I hadn’t appreciated how wide Balaton is! But Eva Risztov, the Hungarian Olympic open-water swimming champion has given me a training regime which I’m (mostly) sticking to. And this weekend I completed a 2.5km swim in Balaton in an hour and one minute. I was pleased with the time and think it shows I’m on course. Here are a few pictures.

I hope you’ll feel moved and able to offer some support, however modest, to what I’m doing. If you can, the details of the account to send a donation to are as follows: OTP Bank 11705008-20500959-00000000. And if you’re wavering, please just think of those family and friends who swim or go sailing on the Balaton or around the UK and the people they rely on for their safety.

About Jonathan Knott

Jonathan Knott was appointed Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Hungary in March 2011 and arrived in Budapest in February 2012 to take up his post. He left this post on April…

Jonathan Knott was appointed Her Majesty’s Ambassador to
Hungary in March 2011 and arrived in Budapest in February 2012 to take
up his post. He left this post on April 2015.
He has previously held a variety of diplomatic posts at home and
abroad, several with a particular focus on commercial and corporate
finance issues. Jonathan has served in a number of positions in the
British Diplomatic Service since joining in 1988:
Before his appointment was Deputy Head of Mission and Director for Trade and Investment in South Korea from 2008 to 2011.Between 2005 and 2008 he held the post of Deputy Finance Director in the FCO.From 2000 to 2005 he served as First Secretary (Trade, Corporate Affairs and Finance Negotiator) in UKDel OECD Paris.From 1996 to 2000 he was First Secretary (Head of Political/Economic/Aid Section) in Mexico.From 1995 to 1996 he worked in the FCO as Deputy European Correspondent at the EU Directorate.Between 1991 and 1995 he served as Third later Second Secretary (Political / Press and Public Affairs) in Havana.From 1990 to 1991 he was Desk Officer in the FCO’s First Gulf War Emergency Unit.Between 1988 and 1990 he worked as Desk Officer in the FCO in the Anti Drugs Cooperation Department.
Jonathan holds an MA in law from Oxford University, and he is a
member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. He speaks
English, French, Spanish and Hungarian. He is married to Angela Susan
Knott and has one daughter and two sons.

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