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News Archive 2011
With contracts now signed, Southwark Cathedral is officially part of the “House of Switzerland Host Family” during next year’s Olympics. The Cathedral’s Millennium Courtyard will be integrated into the House of Switzerland’s outdoor areas, hosting exhibition stands of official sponsors and partners. Furthermore, the Cathedral will provide office and recreational space for the House of Switzerland staff.
Picture: First row from left to right: Ambassador Anton Thalmann, Canon Andrew Nunn, Dean of Southwark Cathedral, Holly French (Glaziers Hall), Elsbeth Baxter (Embassy of Switzerland)
Second row from left to right: Samantha Enstone (Glaziers Hall), Neil Clayden (Glaziers Hall), Rose Harding (Southwark Cathedral), Alexander Larcher (House of Switzerland), Matthew Knight (Southwark Cathedral), David Harvey (Special Advisor to the House of Switzerland)
“Ring out, wild bells!” The heart of London played host to the heart of Switzerland on Monday 28 November as parades of traditional bell-ringers thronged Leicester Square to welcome back the famous Glockenspiel. The original Glockenspiel – consisting of 27 bells, an astronomical clock and a procession of 23 farmers herding their cows to Alpine pasture – was given to the City of Westminster on its 400th anniversary in 1985 by Switzerland and Liechtenstein as a token of centuries of friendship. Redevelopment of the Swiss Centre from 2008 entailed its removal, but it has now been restored and reinstalled. Ambassador Anton Thalmann and former Swiss President Adolf Ogi joined the celebrations, which were followed by a reception at the ‘W’ Hotel on the site of the former Swiss Centre.The reception also saw the launch of a new book “A Curious Colony – Leicester Square and the Swiss” by Peter Barber, local historian and stalwart of the Swiss community. The book charts the deep-rooted connections between Swiss émigrés and the area around Leicester Square, from Huguenot churches in the 18th century up to the vibrant modern-day Swiss community. The modern face(s) of the Swiss in London was present at the event, thanks to a new short film commissioned by the Embassy. The film "Swiss Sketches - Live in London" gives snapshots of five different Swiss people living and working in London, their reflections on what it means to be Swiss in the city, and how life in London informs and develops their sense of identity.
The Zurich Guilds donned their colourful and historic costumes last Saturday, November 12, to once again take part in the annual Lord Mayor’s Show in the City of London. Approximately 200 members and 40 horse riders from all the Guilds in Zurich participated in the spectacular pageant which has been a highlight of the City of London’s calendar for more than 800 years. The Zurich Guilds have close ties with the various Livery Companies of London and the invitation from the Lord Mayor illustrates how the cooperation and friendship between the two cities continues to prosper. The parade was preceded by an evening reception on November 11 hosted by the Guilds and Ambassador Anton Thalmann at Glaziers Hall, the venue for the House of Switzerland at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
London’s celebrated Wigmore Hall was packed with eager concertgoers on October 19 for the annual Swiss Ambassador’s Award Concert. Swiss cellist Lionel Cottet, accompanied by Louis Schwizgebel on piano, performed a stirring programme of Beethoven, Schubert and Brahms, as well as a premiere of a new work by contemporary Swiss composer Gregorio Zanon. The Schubert Lieder were arranged by the two musicians themselves, showing that their flair and innovation extends off the stage as well. The concert was preceded by a reception at the Swiss Ambassador’s Residence. Similar concerts were held in Manchester and Edinburgh as part of the Swiss Cultural Fund in Britain’s commitment to bringing Swiss culture to audiences across all of the UK.
Swiss skills experts found the streets of London really were paved with gold after they collected a haul of medals at the WorldSkills London 2011 championship. The Swiss team was ranked third worldwide, behind South Korea and Japan, making Switzerland the highest-placed of all European countries. The 38-strong delegation picked up 6 gold medals, 5 silver, 6 bronze and 12 diplomas. The team’s achievement shows just how highly regarded Switzerland’s education system is by international peers, with ever-growing interest in the Swiss model of promoting vocational learning alongside the academic path.
On October 6, Federal Councillor Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf and the UK Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke signed a tax agreement in London. Under this agreement, persons resident in the United Kingdom can retrospectively tax their existing banking relationships in Switzerland either by making a one-off tax payment or by disclosing their accounts. Future investment income and capital gains of British bank clients in Switzerland will be subject to a final withholding tax, and the proceeds of this will be transferred to the British authorities by Switzerland. In addition, mutual market access for financial services will be improved. The agreement requires the approval of parliament in both countries, and should enter into force at the start of 2013.
Public transport experts from the UK saw Switzerland’s integrated public transport system at first hand on a study tour from September 13-16, organized by Presence Switzerland and supported by the Embassy. The trip provided a platform for a Swiss-UK dialogue on a wide range of aspects of public transport, from integration to pricing. Highlights included a visit to the Operation Centre of the newly established Lötschberg Base tunnel and an excursion to Zug’s Stadtbahn Project, a regional transport network which has been plugged on a busy North-South main line.
Talent and hospitality were both on display at the Swiss Embassy on September 15 at a round table event organized together with the Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne on the topic of “Innovation in Talent Management.” Held under the aegis of the Embassy’s Swiss-UK Dialogue series, the discussion was chaired by Sinh Yateendra, CEO of Lausanne Hospitality Consulting, and featured high-level guest speakers: Philippe Rossiter from the Institute of Hospitality, Karel Leeflang from Barclays plc, Dr Cécile Emery from the London School of Economics and Political Science and Philipp Mosimann from Mosimann’s London. The panel and audience considered questions such as: How do we define talent? Should we be adopting more aggressive tactics to recruit from other sectors? What companies help their employees and managers to enhance their social capital? and What are the innovations in terms of compensation and benefits to retain talent? This was followed by a networking reception, with drinks and canapés served by Mosimann’s – who will also be the official caterers for the House of Switzerland at the 2012 Olympic Games.
Aspiring young lifeguards from Bournemouth travelled to Switzerland earlier from August 31 to September 2 to further develop their rescue skills in a new environment as part of a skills and training project overseen by the Swiss Embassy and accompanied by BBC Big Splash.
Sam Plank, Mark Wood and Adam Leighton were specifically chosen for the trip by Bournemouth Youth Services and Lee Park, the founder of the “Life’s A Beach” project in Boscombe, which he set up with a £2,000 “Swiss Award” in recognition of his own effort, commitment and achievements in skills and community projects.
In Lucerne, Bournemouth’s twin city, they learned how to apply their lifeguard skills in rivers, on a special River Rescue Course run by the Swiss Life Saving Organisation.
Ambassador Anton Thalmann got a fresh take on the traditional English seaside experience on Sunday, July 24 when he attended the launch of a beach regeneration project by an enterprising young man who had been sponsored by the Swiss Embassy.
Lee Park, 24, won the “Swiss Award” in 2010 to fund his “Life’s A Beach” project, which has helped eleven youngsters to complete the fully accredited Surf Life Saving GB ‘Beach Lifeguard’ training course and can now work as lifeguards on the beach.
Switzerland’s commitment to the project will continue by an invitation to four specially selected local youngsters to travel to Lucerne, the Swiss city that is twinned with Bournemouth, at the end of August 2011. In Lucerne, they will have the chance to broaden their horizons and develop their lifeguard skills further, by learning how to rescue people in rivers as well as the open sea.