I was born in Pontypool and attended Newbridge Grammar School before heading off to Pembroke College, Oxford. After a time working at Courtaulds - at that time the world’s largest textiles company - I headed up trade associations in the non-ferrous metals sector. In 1981, I was recruited by the European Commission in Brussels, where I worked in many different departments but mainly dealing with international trade agreements. I was heavily involved in the creation of the single market, the WTO negotiations, trade disputes over Airbus, pasta, space launches, to name but a few. As EU Ambassador to Korea and then to Canada, I launched the EU’s Free Trade Agreements with those countries (often quoted nowadays as the models for the UK’s future trade arrangements with the EU).
My main hobby has always been music. I trained as a concert pianist and church organist and still give several recitals every year. It helps keep my busy now that I am retired.
I am not qualified to advise anybody about prayer. What I can do, however, is share with you my experiences of spirituality in many different forms and in the many countries which I have visited and lived in.
THEME OF THIS WORKSHOP
I spent 30 years working in an organisation which is truly unique. The European Commission is a curious mélange: a deep commitment to its fundamental goals often enforced with satanic brutality, extraordinary bureaucratic efficiency underpinned by a medieval feudal structure of guilds. During those many years, I was fortunate to deal with so many languages, cultures, countries and faiths. The media try to present world events as a series of logical “facts” and “trends”. That is not the way the world works. Spirituality plays a major role. I hope to share with you some of my encounters with representatives of many forms of spirituality: the supernumerari of Opus Dei, the freemasons, zen buddhists, the Moonies of North Korea, practioners of shintoism in Japan…Oh, and if I have time, I will tell you everything I learned about the sexual mores of South Korea - from a shaman of course!
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We look forward to welcoming you!