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British diplomat visits Churchill Museum

British diplomat visits Churchill Museum

April 8th, 2018 by Jenny Gray in Local News

Touring the National Churchill Museum on Wednesday was, second from left, John Saville, the British Consul General posted in Chicago in November. Earlier in the day, he addressed the full Missouri House of Representatives in Jefferson City and was introduced in the state Senate. He traveled to Fulton to visit the National Churchill Museum accompanied by his wife, Fabiola Moreno de Alboran, left, and Mark Sutherland, third from left, British Honorary Consul for Missouri. Their tour was given by museum director/curator Tim Riley.

Photo by Jenny Gray /Fulton Sun.

Tried and true, the relationship between Great Britain and the United States continues to flourish, and is expected to continue doing so.

"This is not just a special relationship. It's a deep relationship," said John Saville, newly posted to Chicago as Her Majesty's Consul General, a diplomatic mission.

Saville visited Fulton on Wednesday afternoon, following a trip to the Missouri Capitol earlier in the day.

"I spoke in front of the House of Representatives and was introduced at the Senate," he said. "It was an honor."

Touring the National Churchill Museum with Saville was his wife, Fabiola Moreno de Alboran, and Mark Sutherland, Honorary Consul to the state of Missouri. Tim Riley, director and curator for the museum who has a wealth of Churchillian stories, escorted the trio through the displays and to the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury, the crown piece of the museum.

Conversations during the tour were informative. After looking at photographs of London in ruins after the Nazi Blitz, Saville said his favorite British ale is London Pride.

"It's named for a little flower that grew in the ruins," he said.

Saville and Riley also talked about "Darkest Hour," a recent movie depicting Churchill's call to arms during World War II. Riley remarked that attendance at the National Churchill Museum is up by 27 percent since the movie came out.

Riley also pointed out a Thomas Hart Benton painting that had been given to Winston Churchill in lieu of payment for his lecture at Westminster in 1946. That lecture is now famously nicknamed "The Iron Curtain" speech and warned the world of Russian aggression and the coming Cold War.

Sculptures of Churchill fill one room at the museum, including the last bust ever made of the former British prime minister.

Next spring is the 50th anniversary of the dedication of St. Mary's church in Fulton. Riley asked Saville if he would be involved, and Saville immediately assented.

"We want to use it as an occasion to inform and tell our story, because a lot of people don't know it," Riley said.

"I'd love to support that," Saville answered. "We don't have deep pockets, but we have a platform."

Saville's diplomatic career began in 1981 and he's been posted all over the world, including Jakarta, Warsaw (where he met his wife), Havana and Venezuela. He was in Warsaw in 1989 when the Berlin Wall was torn down, he said.

The couple came to Chicago in November and this was his first tour of Missouri.

"I'm just beginning to get a sense of richness," Saville said, adding the Churchill museum touched him. "This is, for me, a very deep experiences."

Ties that bind

Back to the "special relationship" between Great Britain and the United States, Saville said the two countries share a commonality that binds them.

"We're both core members of NATO and the (United Nations) Security Council," he added. "We have shared values of democracy and human rights, and those kinds of things give us the tools and vision to stand up for what's right with the world."

As the Brexit process continues, and Saville said Britain now has a framework in place for leaving the European Union. That will create new, independent trading opportunities, he said.

"It is a great basis to build close collaborations and stronger trade (relationships)," he added.

Russia, he said, is well worth keeping a close eye on.

"We have two people in hospital in Salisbury in my country," he said of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, a father and daughter attacked with a military grade nerve agent linked to Russia. "It's only possible to draw one conclusion — that's a scary thing."

Since that attack a month ago, some European countries including Britain, and the U.S., have expelled some Russian diplomats.

"We have to show Russia the world won't stand for that," he said of the chemical attack. "Where do we go from here? We'll see."

Putin continues to deny any connection, according to international media reports including the BBC World Service. Recently, President Donald Trump reportedly invited Putin to the White House. Saville said that meeting could create opportunity for dialogue.

"I'm a diplomat," he said. "I believe in talking."