This is the first article of a series introducing the Honorary Consuls of Finland in the United Kingdom. We’ll start with Mr John Gibson, who was appointed as an Honorary Consul of Finland in Liverpool in 2012. His area covers Merseyside, Lancashire, Cumbria and the Isle of Man.
Mr Gibson has a Master’s degree in Law, Arts and Education and has previously worked as a barrister. In his free time Mr Gibson enjoys learning Finnish and jogging. His main objectives as an Honorary Consul are maintaining contacts with the Finnish community, enhancing Finland’s country image and promoting Finnish exports and investments. Mr Gibson kindly answered our six questions:
1. How did you end up as an Honorary Consul for Finland?
Working with law firms, businesses and other concerns in Finland (and visiting Finland on holiday) led me to applying to become an Honorary Consul when the previous Liverpool Honorary Consul retired.
2. What do you enjoy most in your role as an Honorary Consul?
The way I can help Finns who need my assistance is the most attractive part of the job.
3. What is Finland known for in your area?
4. What do you wish people in your area knew more about Finland?
What a wonderful place it is to visit on holiday and how good it is to do business with Finns.
5. What does your area have to offer for Finns or Finnish companies?
Huge shipping resources, excellent leisure facilities and sporting activities i.e. watching Liverpool Football Club.
6. What is your favourite Finnish word or expression? Why?
Sisu – since it summons up the approach to life that I most admire in Finns.
Finland has about 400 honorary consulates around the world, 23 of which in the United Kingdom. Honorary Consuls promote economic, political, academic and cultural relations between Finland and the UK, and monitor the rights of Finnish citizens in their sphere of operation. They can for example guide and assist in contacts with the local authorities or the embassy. However, their possibilities to provide assistance are limited, nor for instance can they grant a passport.