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Marianne Young

Marianne Young

High Commissioner, Windhoek

Part of UK in Namibia

13th September 2012 Windhoek, Namibia

Triumphant Paralympic home-coming to Namibia

HE Mrs Marianne Young, Dr Becky Ndjoze-Ojo, British Council Country Director, and the three winners of the drawing competition

I spent this morning with Grade One pupils at Moses Garoeb School in Katatura today for the last of my Olympic outreach activities following the closure of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

It was a wonderful way to mark what has been a fun-filled programme of events that have enabled me to interact with both young and old throughout the country to promote the Olympic spirit, the London 2012 competition, and the UK as a whole.

The children had taken part in a drawing competition and presented beautifully coloured in pictures of our two Olympic mascots. I was delighted to hand out the last of our London 2012 merchandise to the winners – and enjoy more terrific singing from the school’s talented junior choir.

The visit was a big contrast to the more formal events of yesterday – when I joined the Paralympic Squad and sporting officials at State House for President Pohamba’s formal congratulations audience. Paralympic gold winner Johanna Benson was naturally the star of the show and was accompanied by her mother and coach as well as her team mates. It was a really emotional event and a wonderful celebration of what is possible – and what can be achieved with hard work, commitment and the support of dedicated family and friends. Both Johanna and her mother were overwhelmed when the President announced that he was gifting them a house in their home town of Walvis Bay – as well as an additional N$170,000 as a reward for bringing back the medals. It transpired that many of the country’s high performing sportsmen and women hailed from the same small coastal town – making the President speculate that it must be the high protein fish diet that had boosted their abilities. A great excuse to eat more seafood platters when down there.

On Tuesday, I had joined the crowds at the airport to welcome back the squad and nearly been knocked down in the crush of fans who mobbed Johanna and her team mates. It was a wonderful carnival-type atmosphere and great to see so many young people present who wanted to voice their congratulations in person and catch a glimpse of Namibia’s new “Golden Girl”.

HE Mrs Marianne Young with Johanna Benson, paralympic gold medalist

It was a particularly emotive and fitting end to a Games that has been heralded the most accessible and inclusive Games ever. London 2012 marked the first time that the planning and organisation of the Paralympic and Olympic Games were fully integrated. Disability access was incorporated into the design and structure of the buildings, open spaces and public transport, and everything was done in consultation with the disability advisory group.

The Games has really helped to change attitudes to disabled people through ground-breaking wall-to-wall coverage of the Paralympic Games and some 2.7 million people visiting the Paralympics, making them the first Paralympic Games ever to sell out.

The fact that Johanna Benson’s success has elicited such a large scale national celebration is evidence of this sea change in Namibia.

Local singing sensation Gaza summed it up well at Johanna’s victory party in Katatura on Tuesday night, which I was lucky enough to attend. He told all of us that when he grew up, people were ashamed to have disabled children in their villages and families – but Johanna’s success has helped change all that. This was a really encouraging message to hear from such a strongly followed artist.

We now all need to work together to continue to build on growing efforts worldwide to create more open and inclusive societies – where success depends on effort and ability – and where people are judged on what they can do, not on what they can’t.

I look forward to working with my Namibian colleagues, partners and friends over the next three years to help achieve this goal more widely.

About Marianne Young

Marianne Young is the current British High Commissioner to the Republic of Namibia. She arrived in Windhoek in June 2011 and presented her credentials to the President of the Republic of…

Marianne Young is the current British High Commissioner to the
Republic of Namibia. She arrived in Windhoek in June 2011 and presented
her credentials to the President of the Republic of Namibia on 3rd
Mrs Young joined the FCO in 2001 following a career in international
journalism, including time spent running an Asian maritime press office
in Singapore and a traineeship on the UK’s Times newspaper.
Her first role in the FCO was as a Press Officer in News Department,
after which she went on to be Head of the Great Lakes Section in Africa
Directorate and then Head of the East Africa & Horn Section.
In 2005, she became the first Head of Communications for the Engaging with the Islamic World Group.
She moved to the British High Commission in Pretoria in February 2007
and served as the Head of the External Political Section and Deputy
High Commissioner to the Kingdoms of Lesotho and Swaziland.
Mrs Young moved across to the British High Commission in Windhoek in
June 2011, and presented her credentials to the President of the
Republic of Namibia on 3rd August 2011.
On her appointment as British High Commissioner to the Republic of Namibia, Mrs Young said:
“I am honoured and delighted to be appointed Her Majesty’s High
Commissioner to Namibia. I look forward to working to strengthen the
many commercial, political and cultural ties between our two countries,
and to help the many British nationals who holiday there. My family and I
are particularly thrilled to be remaining in southern Africa – and to
have the opportunity to explore this beautiful country further and
discover more about its people and culture.”
Curriculum vitae

Full name:
Marianne Young

Married to:
Barry Young

Two daughters and one son

June 2011
Windhoek, British High Commissioner

2007 – 2011
Pretoria, Head of External Political Section and DHC for the Kingdoms of Lesotho and Swaziland

2005 – 2006
FCO, Head of Communications, Engaging with the Islamic World Group

2004 – 2005
FCO, Head of East Africa & Horn Section, Africa Directorate

3/2003 – 8/2003
FCO, Head of Great Lakes Section, Africa Directorate

2002 – 2003
FCO, Press Officer, Press Office

2001 – 2002
FCO, Departmental Report Editor, Press Office

Joined FCO

Senior Correspondent, Fairplay Group, UK

Staff Editor and then Asia Editor, Fairplay Group Singapore

Graduate Trainee at The Times newspaper, UK

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