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Leigh Turner

Ambassador to Austria and UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Vienna

Part of Speakers' Corner

7th March 2011

My Welsh Great-Grandfather

1 March is St David’s Day, named after the patron saint of Wales who died in 589.  I’m part-Welsh: my great-grandfather John Derfel (photo below) came from the the town of Llanderfel in north Wales and was the son of the Welsh poet and political writer Robert Jones Derfel (for the Welsh-language Wikipedia entry, click here). According to family lore, Robert Jones Derfel took the name “Derfel” because the winner of the Bardic poem at the national Eisteddfod, a Welsh festival of literature, music and performance, was encouraged to take his birthplace as a last name as  a distinction.  The name “Derfel” continues in our family to this day.

Robert Derfel

Wales has played an important part in the development of Ukraine.  John Hughes founded the town of industrial city of Hughesovka in 1896, which has grown into Donetsk, one of Ukraine’s largest and most dynamic cities.  Donetsk has a fine statute of John Hughes and there is also an excellent beer named in his honour.  Meanwhile the industrial city of Luhansk, in the east of the country (and which in turn was founded by the Scot Charles Gascoigne or “Karl Gaskoin”, who established an iron foundry there in 1795) is twinned with Cardiff; and Zakarpattia oblast, in the far west of the country, is twinned with Wales.  Wales, like Ukraine, is a country with two languages (in this case Welsh and English), although with a different language policy from Ukraine.  Finally, and somewhat tenuously, I have attended two events in Kyiv recently at which people have been dancing to music by the talented Welsh singer Duffy.

Wikipedia has a good page on Wales, illustrating one of the world’s coolest flags (featuring a red dragon) and national symbols including the daffodil and the leek.  You can find more about St David’s Day at the Wales.com portal. Finally, to anyone who has not visited Wales on holiday, I can strongly recommend it having spent my summer holidays there in 2009.  A couple of photos illustrating the extreme beauty of North Wales are below.

At the summit of Snowdon

At the summit of Snowdon

Walking in Wales

Walking in Wales

About Leigh Turner

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of…

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of the UN and other organisations; stories here will reflect that.

About me: I arrived in Vienna in August 2016 for my second posting in this wonderful city, having first served here in the mid-1980s. My previous job was as HM Consul-General and Director-General for Trade and Investment for Turkey, Central Asia and South Caucasus based in Istanbul.

Further back: I grew up in Nigeria, Exeter, Lesotho, Swaziland and Manchester before attending Cambridge University 1976-79. I worked in several government departments before joining the Foreign Office in 1983.

Keen to go to Africa and South America, I’ve had postings in Vienna (twice), Moscow, Bonn, Berlin, Kyiv and Istanbul, plus jobs in London ranging from the EU Budget to the British Overseas Territories.

2002-6 I was lucky enough to spend four years in Berlin running the house, looking after the children (born 1992 and 1994) and doing some writing and journalism.

To return to Vienna as ambassador is a privilege and a pleasure. I hope this blog reflects that.