CUMBERLAND AND WESTMORLAND HERALD Friday, 23 January 2009
Our man in Harare knighted Saturday, 04 January 2003
CUMBRIAN-born diplomat Brian Donnelly, British High Commissioner in troubled Zimbabwe, was knighted in the New Year honours.
Sir Brian and his wife Julia great-granddaughter of the founder of this newspaper were previously in Belgrade in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia through the height of the bloody Kosovo crisis.
He has been made KBE Knight Commander of the British Empire an honour which in diplomatic circles tends to be associated with service in difficult postings. Sir Brian is the Oxford-educated son of a Workington steelmaker whose career with the Foreign Office began in 1973. He married Julia Newsome in 1997, their first posting being to Belgrade where he was British Ambassador.
Julia, who was a pupil at Kirkby Stephen Grammar School when her family lived at Cumpstone House, North Stainmore, was evacuated from the Belgrade embassy in a road convoy when the Serbian leader Milosevic was threatened with NATO air strikes, her husband staying on with a skeleton embassy staff.
The couple were on leave in Cumbria this week visiting relatives, including Julia’s cousin, Patricia Bille, Croft Avenue, Penrith. Sir Brian’s posting in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, is due to extend to September, 2004.
Julia, a writer and examiner of English as a foreign language, is now formally Lady Donnelly, but will keep Julia Newsome as her professional name. Mr. Donnelly’s wife, Julia, a cousin of Patricia Bille, Croft Avenue, Penrith, is an English teacher and author. Her great-grandfather was Thomas Hodgson who founded the Cumberland and Westmorland Herald in 1860. Her family lived at Cumpstone House, North Stainmore, in the 1960s and she was a pupil at Kirkby Stephen Grammar School.