By Margaret Sheard …..
I was delighted to be asked by Martin Bell if Chris and I would like to join him and Julia Berg with the Prestige Holidays tour group who were visiting Cyprus, north and south, to meet the group and attend his talk, as we did last year.
Many people of the older generation will remember Martin who was fondly nicknamed “The Man in the White Suit”. Having spent his British national service in Cyprus, he went on to join the BBC and in the following 30 years he covered 11 conflicts and reported from 80 countries, being remembered for reports from countries such as Vietnam, the Middle East, Nigeria, Angola and Northern Ireland during the troubles there.
He was the BBC’s Washington correspondent from 1978 to 1989. Martin received the OBE in 1992 and that same year he reported on the war in Bosnia. In the 1990’s Martin decided to change direction and moved into politics which continued for the next few years. In 2001 he was appointed UNICEF UK Ambassador for Humanitarian Emergencies, for children caught up in conflicts or natural disasters. He has also found time to write several books along the way, one being The End of Empire which covered his national service years in Cyprus.
This year there were 26 people in the group who had travelled from the UK, accompanied by Martin Bell, to enjoy some of the interesting areas in both south and north Cyprus. Chris and I met up with Martin, Julia and the group at the Arkin Colony Hotel in Girne, where we enjoyed a nice buffet meal with them prior to the talk which was to be given by Martin, followed by a question-time period.
I mentioned during my introduction that I have written many accounts of the memories of ex-national servicemen who served time in Cyprus in the late 1950’s, at which time Martin took the microphone and told the story of Fingers the Goat which is one of my favourites from the many reminiscences with which I have been involved. These memories are mainly under the heading Cyprus Remembered on the CyprusScene website.
There were many questions about life here in North Cyprus, including cost of living, weather, some politically based questions, and how I thought Brexit might affect the expatriates living in North Cyprus. I tried to answer the questions as best I could and hope my replies were acceptable to the group.
Among the group were 3 ex-military men who served in Cyprus and I assume they were amazed at the changes in both the south and north since they were here as young men.
It was a very nice evening and we would like to thank Martin and Julia for inviting us to join them and to be able to write about the event.