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Nigel Baker

Ambassador to the Holy See (2011-2016)

Part of UK in Bolivia

5th November 2010

Good news

So often, our newspapers and other media focus on the bad news stories. We watch the news, or read the front page, and depression sets in. “Good news is no news”, say the cynics. The event I attended on 4 November at Unduavi, in the Yungas of La Paz, breaks the trend. Even more so, as it is an example of good news flowing from personal tragedy.

*In May 2009, Theo Dreyfus was killed in an accident on the famous “Road of Death” between La Paz and Coroico, doing what he loved – having an adventure, letting the adrenalin flow, cycling down this most exciting of adventure trails. Like many British travellers and back-packers, he had come to Bolivia to enjoy the fabulous scenery and adventure opportunities. Although the vast majority of holidays to Bolivia are trouble free, safety standards are not always as high as at home (Travel Advice). Theo’s accident, and the inability of rescue services to get to the scene quickly enough to save his life, was one example.

*Theo’s father, Dominic Dreyfus, was determined that good should come out of this tragedy. He decided that he would do what he could to help ensure that never again a tourist would suffer on the Yungas road because of the inability of Bolivia’s rescue services to save him in time. On 4 November this year, his perseverance became reality, in the shape of the donation of a rescue and paramedic vehicle and equipment, to be based permanently in the Yungas, paid for by the Dreyfus family and the donations of hundreds of friends and supporters in the United Kingdom.

It was a privilege for me to attend the donation ceremony. The Sub-Comandante of the Bolivian Police, General Iturri, in receiving the donation, said he did so in the name of Bolivia’s 35,000 police. His promise to the Dreyfus family was that with the new equipment the bomberos and rescue services would be committed as never before to the safety not only of tourists but all those using the difficult Yungas roads. I salute Dominic Dreyfus. His extraordinary gesture will help to protect and make safe thousands of tourists in Bolivia for years to come.

About Nigel Baker

Nigel was British Ambassador to the Holy See from 2011-2016. He presented his Credentials to Pope Benedict XVI on 9 September 2011, after serving 8 years in Latin America, as…

Nigel was British Ambassador to the Holy See from 2011-2016. He presented his Credentials to Pope Benedict XVI on 9 September 2011, after serving 8 years in Latin America, as Deputy Head of Mission in the British Embassy in Havana, Cuba (2003-6) and then as British Ambassador in La Paz, Bolivia (2007-11). In July 2016, Nigel finished his posting, and is currently back in London.

As the first British Ambassador to the Holy See ever to have a blog, Nigel provided a regular window on what the Embassy and the Ambassador does. The blogs covered a wide range of issues, from Royal and Ministerial visits to Diplomacy and Faith, freedom of religion, human trafficking and climate change.

More on Nigel’s career

Nigel was based in London between 1998 and 2003. He spent two years on European Union issues (for the UK 1998 EU Presidency and on European Security and Defence questions), before crossing St James’s Park to work for three years as The Assistant Private Secretary to His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. At St James’s Palace, Nigel worked on international issues, including the management of The Prince of Wales’s overseas visits and tours, on the Commonwealth, interfaith issues, the arts and international development.

Nigel spent much of the early part of his FCO career in Central Europe, after an initial stint as Desk Officer for the Maghreb countries in the Near East and North Africa department (1990-91). Between 1992 and 1996, Nigel served in the British embassies in Prague and Bratislava, the latter being created in 1993 after the peaceful division of Czechoslovakia into the separate Czech and Slovak Republics.

Nigel joined the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) in September 1989. Between 1996 and 1998 he took a two year academic sabbatical to research and write about themes in 18th century European history, being based in Verona but also researching in Cambridge, Paris and Naples. The research followed from Nigel’s time as a student at Cambridge (1985-88) where he read history and was awarded a First Class Honours degree, followed by his MA in 1992.

Before joining the Foreign Office, Nigel worked briefly for the Conservative Research Department in London at the time of the 1989 European election campaign.

Nigel married Alexandra (Sasha) in 1997. They have one son, Benjamin, born in Bolivia in September 2008.

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