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Thomas Carter

British Ambassador to Guatemala

Part of UK in Guatemala

6th February 2017 Guatemala City

Regional Consular Conference

It is always an enormous pleasure to go to Antigua.  It’s only an hour (in reasonable traffic, that is!) from Guatemala City, but it is like being in a different world, with its beautiful colonial buildings, churches and cobbled streets, its bars, restaurants and language schools, and its relaxed pace of life.   A couple of weeks ago the British Embassy held a conference for our consular agents there, and hardly surprisingly we got a massive turn-out.

What is a consular agent, you may ask?  Well they are volunteers who help us with our consular work, in other words, work involving helping British nationals in difficulty.  Our consular agents visit Britons in hospital or in prison, help in the event of a crisis, and are the Embassy’s eyes and ears on the ground locally.  They are often British nationals themselves living locally, but sometimes Guatemalan (or other) nationals with links to the UK.  And they do it all voluntarily: totally unpaid, they do an amazing job.  I always make a point of meeting up with them when I am on a regional visit to get a real feel for what is going on locally.  We have several consular agents in Guatemala City, and also in the main locations where British tourists tend to go – so places like Antigua, Lake Atitlan, Quetzaltenango, Izabal, and Peten.  And in addition to helping Britons in difficulty, they also frequently offer first-contact help to nationals from European Union and Commonwealth countries which don’t have diplomatic representation in Guatemala.  It was such a pleasure to spend time with them all in Antigua.  And we were also joined by several British consular agents and honorary consuls from other countries in the region – Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.

While in Antigua I also took the opportunity to visit another British national doing amazing things in Guatemala, in the form of Katie Cunningham at Finca Azotea in Jocotenango.  Passionate about horses and concerned with their welfare, Katie began taking in local horses who had been abused by their owners.  But then she discovered that these same horses had a remarkable gift for calming down humans, including the very humans who had abused them.  By fomenting a relationship of mutual respect between horse and human, Katie has achieved remarkable successes with young people with a tendency towards violence.  She uses interaction with horses to calm the young people down, and boost both their self-control and self-respect.  We met a young man and a young woman who she had helped in this way, both locals, and both said the experience had transformed their lives.  I found it curiously calming just watching the pair (human and horse) as each built up confidence in the other.   Katie’s organisation is called Lead-Up International, and her remarkable work has been recognised by HM The Queen (who of course herself adores horses).

So it was a memorable and very humbling day in Antigua, meeting Britons and others doing wonderful things.  I would like to say a big thank-you to each and every one of them for what they do.  Truly remarkable people!

Participants at the Regional Consular Conference

Iconic Antigua Guatemala

With the staff of Lead Up International in Guatemala

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About Thomas Carter

Tom Carter arrived in Guatemala in August 2015. This is his second ambassadorial job, the first being as British High Commissioner to Zambia (2008 to 2012). Tom worked on the…

Tom Carter arrived in Guatemala in August 2015. This is his second ambassadorial job, the first being as British High Commissioner to Zambia (2008 to 2012). Tom worked on the London 2012 Olympic Games, and was until recently in charge of the FCO’s global consular policy, working out of London. He has spent much of his career in Europe (France, Germany and Slovakia), but also in Colombia and Thailand. Tom is married to another career diplomat, Carolyn Davidson, with whom he shared the job in Zambia and who is now British Ambassador to Honduras. They have two teenage sons.

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