Chief Superintendent Atkin on his involvement with the Magical Taxi Tours: "I had the privilege…
On a beautiful sunny afternoon on Thursday 24 March, over 70 members of the Worshipful Company and their guests visited the US Embassy, in Nine Elms Lane, at the very kind invitation of The Master’s Lady, Alison Emmins. The visit had been offered and organised by Karen Lass, the Senior Regional Security Officer who, with her team, has responsibility for Diplomatic Security to the US Ambassador.
After proceeding through Security and Reception, the guests gathered in the main reception hall where they could view an impressive stone wall which had, carved in, the names of all former Ambassadors, Chargés or Senior Representative accredited to the Court of St James, with dates. Unlike the UK system, US Ambassadors are a political appointment so when a new President takes office the Ambassador will change.
The visit began with drinks reception and a finger buffet held in an adjacent area to the restaurant on the fifth floor. The entry to the restaurant was impressive – not only did we enjoy a first class view of the Thames and London but the lighting display from the numerous hanging coloured ‘chandeliers’ was most striking and certainly provided a talking point straight away! The reception gave everyone a chance to meet Karen and her Embassy colleagues, as well as mingle with other members of the Company and their guests.
The Immediate Past Master, Yasmeen Stratton, welcomed and thanked everyone for coming and after expressing the Company’s pleasure and gratitude to Karen and her colleagues for hosting the event, handed over to Karen who gave a fascinating insight to her long and distinguished career. As noted above, Karen and her team are responsible for the diplomatic protection of the US Ambassador but she was keen to point out that she is not Secret Service! Karen’s diplomatic roles have been varied and her overseas postings are impressive – Senegal, Mozambique, Iraq, Nepal, Sudan, Ukraine, and now London. Given the challenges she has faced in some of these postings Karen certainly enjoys the luxury of being in London!
The Master, Steve Emmins, thanked Karen for her most generous hospitality and highlighted the important friendship she has with our Company. The Master then presented Karen with a framed Certificate of Companionship of the Company, an acknowledgement of the importance the Company places on such relationships.
The Master also thanked our Sponsor for the event, Estee Lauder, and presented them with a framed certificate.
During the afternoon the guests were asked to form small groups of 8 to 10 for a tour, and each group was led by one of Karen’s colleagues. We were privileged to see and hear about some of the challenges for the building design (from physical/electronic attack as well as potential flooding from the Thames), viewed some amazing artwork, visited their dining and recreational facilities, saw their shop (where items are purchased in US Dollars), and even discovered the Embassy has a small medical facility.
It was a huge privilege and honour to visit the US Embassy. Our thanks again to Alison Emmins for her kind invitation and to Karen and her colleagues for spending an afternoon with us, welcoming us so warmly with a delightful reception and interesting tour and for answering all our questions. It was certainly a memorable visit!
Sue Jones, Court Assistant.