Guardian obituary of Jonathan Webber

In February, former West Midlands Lib Dem chair and President’s Award winner Jonathan Webber sadly died. His partner Kathryn Ball wrote an obituary for us, with tributes from Nick Clegg, Paddy Ashdown and Tim Farron. Tim said:

His advice and counsel to successive leaders, his energy and his optimism, helped sustain the party in the most challenging of circumstances.

Kathryn has now written a very interesting article on Jonathan’s life for the Guardian. Here’s an excerpt:

After studying drama and setting up a small business as a bookseller, Jonathan worked as a bus conductor in Exeter. There he met a Greek student, Kleio – and later hitchhiked 1,500 miles to Athens to be with her. He spent the next 18 years in Greece, becoming fluent in Greek and working as a literary agent publishing Greek versions of bestselling Penguin novels.

After moving to Thessaloniki, he was asked to run the UK government division of the British Hellenic Chamber of Commerce to help stimulate business links throughout the Balkans – and he also started the Thessaloniki Cricket Club.

Jonathan returned to the UK in 1995. He joined the Department of Trade and Industry, helping to promote British exports and advising on trade with Greece and the Balkans, before joining the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, where I met him, and where he became director of international trade in 2005.

Jonathan led a series of EU-funded projects involving business development and institutional capacity building in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan. He led 16 trade missions across the region, as well as hosting numerous business delegations from south-east Asia. On his last trip he accompanied the then deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, on a trade mission to India.

Jonathan amassed a large collection of books, which filled the bookcases at his home and spilled on to the floor. He was knowledgable about Scandinavian glass, owning many pieces, and was an authority on Byzantine history.

He was appointed MBE for services to international trade and development in the Queen’s birthday honours in 2011. In 2014 he was made a deputy lieutenant in the West Midlands and received the president’s award from the Liberal Democrat party.

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