I was delighted to meet the new British Consul, Maria Leng, this morning over coffee and cakes in a small gathering in the Costa Adeje Gran Hotel. A few of us from the south had been invited to meet Maria so that she could put faces to names that she had already become familiar with, people who can not only help to disseminate information for the Consulate, but can also provide key information on day to day concerns and issues for expatriate residents here.
Maria has been here for five months now, and she said that, until now, her feet have hardly touched the ground as she familiarised herself with her new territory. At last, however, she can begin to formulate ideas and structures to make the relationship between the Consulate and the British population in Tenerife a strong and successful one. Maria hails from Fife in Scotland, though with a Galician mother, and after graduating with a European Business Studies degree from Aberdeen university, started her working life in the oil industry … where her first post saw her sharing an office with the brother of the owner of The Tenerife Forum! She is very well aware of the forum and the essential service it provides to Tenerife residents and visitors alike.
Also at this morning’s meeting with Maria and the British Vice Consul, Helen Díaz de Arcaya Keating, were Diana McGlone of the One Stop Problem Shop (who posts on The Tenerife Forum as Goldenmaniac) and her partner, Peter Jay of News in the Sun; Harry and Janet Davies of the Canarian branch of Ciudadanos Europeos; Margaret Green, an educator and cancer campaigner of 40 years’ standing here; and Pauline Thowny, a local restauranteur with a tourism background who is an emergency call out saviour for those in trouble when the Consulate is asked for immediate help.
At present, the south Tenerife Consular surgeries are being held on an ad hoc basis according to need, but Maria is keen to get these back on a regular footing again as soon as possible. There are also suggestions of a quarterly newsletter to keep the Consulate in people’s minds and to inform and keep them updated with official news. Maria was keen to stress that she wanted to maximise people’s awareness of what the Consulate can do to help expatriates and holidaymakers here … and also of consular limitations, because many travellers, and residents, sometimes seem to take it as an alternative to personal responsibility.
All in all, this morning’s meeting was a lovely friendly start to what I hope will be a long and successful tenure for Maria in Tenerife, and one that will benefit all of us who live or visit here. The only thing we have to do is keep her in the consulate: she is a keen soccer fan, and has football coaching qualifications from the Scottish FA! Given the recent vacancy for a coach at CD Tenerife …
Photographs and hopefully regular updates to follow.