Networking: British chamber members said au revoir to a big supporter and starting looking at this year’s big questions, like the upcoming Brexit vote, during a reception this week.
Photo: Steve Eastwood
The British Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual new year cocktail on Wednesday evening at the British embassy’s official residence in Luxembourg City-Centre. The UK ambassador to Luxembourg, Alice Walpole, was in attendance and around 120 people came along to enjoy one of her last public engagements in Luxembourg before she leaves for her next assignment in Mali. While the evening was all about reviewing the events of 2015 and looking forward to what 2016 has in store, much networking took place over generously filled glasses of champagne and a magnificent array of canapés.
Walpole opened the evening with a charmingly brief speech in which she wished everyone a “happy new year and goodbye” to much amusement before handing over to Alison Macleod, the chamber’s chair. Macleod began by thanking Walpole for her enormous support to the chamber during her four and a half years in post and for “one of the highlights of last year, the Magna Carta viewing which was very kindly arranged by Alice--it was a real privilege”.
Macleod went on to wish the ambassador much success in her next position on the African continent and to thank her once again for her tremendously hard work. “We at the chamber have enjoyed a very successful year. We’ve increased our membership, held 23 events with 1,400 attendees including evening business forums and sustaining members-only events.”
Looking at Brexit question
Making reference to the many events planned during 2016, she acknowledged the impending referendum on whether or not the UK remains within the EU, and the lunches they have planned that are pertinent to the Brexit issue. “2015 has been a successful year for the chamber. Let’s look forward to building upon that success in 2016!”
Walpole later commented that the embassy had enjoyed a very special relationship with the BCC. “We’re working in different but complimentary spheres and it has been a real pleasure helping the chamber to source speakers and expand their membership--and in turn, they have helped us.”
Thomas Flammant, trade investment adviser at the British embassy agreed: “The BCC is really valuable, particularly if you actively engage. Then it’s the best networking platform in Luxembourg.”
Anita De Viell, director at Fast Recruitment, said: “It’s a great networking platform to meet new business partners and to develop and share knowledge. It also ensures that our business interests are made known to the government.” The value of the chamber was clearly evident. Virginia Strelen, director at Vistra Luxembourg, a service provider in the financial sector, stated: “it’s an essential lobbying platform that we would otherwise not have and ensures that our interests have been noted”.
Andrew Knight, partner at M Partners, an advisory firm, has worked in a number of European cities and said that his primary concern was Brexit. “It’s so important to have an embassy that supports the local business community. If I compare this embassy with others, it’s really active--participating, supporting and encouraging the business community.”
Roy Reding, partner of the Reding law firm, had the final say: “What an incredible array of posts our departing British ambassador has held and what fascinating stories she can tell. If the new ambassador is only half as interesting….”