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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 UK in Ukraine

2nd December 2011

Top-End British Design in Kyiv

There are few things which make me happier than to see the ambassador’s residence here in Kyiv packed with British business types.  So I was delighted recently when the residence hosted a “British Design Showcase”, bringing together a series of English and Scottish companies specialising in UK-produced textiles, wallpapers, curtain poles, furniture and fabrics.

To enter the residence during this time was like walking into an Aladdin’s cave of lush textiles, top-end furnishings and exquisite accessories.  Companies represented included Henry Bertrand (luxury and specialist silk fabrics); Swaffer (English floral prints and classic British wovens for upholstery); Voyage Decoration (fabrics and wallpaper); Joshua Ellis (the “Kings of Yorkshire wool” with fabrics for fashion and interiors); Whitehead Furniture (from Nottinghamshire, producing handmade English sofas); Trimont and Handsome Trimmings (from Derbyshire and Yorkshire, classic and modern trimmings); Resina Designs (classic wooden curtain poles); Jocelyn Warner (designer wallpaper in florals and geometrics, and whimsy from East London); and Monogrammed Linen (specialist “monogramming” onto fine items).  There was also a room full of top-quality Scottish companies, representing high-end wool products.  The companies included BeggScotland; Holland and Sherry; The Isle Mill; Johnstons of Elgin; and Morton Young and Borland.

If you’ve ever heard that old canard that they don’t make anything in Britain anymore, here was evidence to the contrary.  I was intrigued to discover that several of the companies exhibiting supplied products to fashion brands more commonly associated with other European countries; and that others supplied many of the world’s leading fashion and interior designers as well as opera and theatre companies and Hollywood blockbusters.  Best of all, the exhibition attracted a host of buyers and I was told that a number of important contracts were signed.

There was much talk of holding a further “British Design Showcase” on a future date.  I look forward to it.

The Ambassador Leigh Turner (right) at the showcase


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.