The new Sovereign Base Areas Administration Chief Officer, Clare Simpson, has said she is looking forward to embracing Cypriot culture and working closely with community leaders in the villages around the Bases.
Mrs Simpson, who replaced outgoing Chief Officer Mike Smith in September, becomes the most senior British Civil Servant appointed to work within the Administration and she has wasted no time in getting down to business in what she describes as a “very unusual role for a Ministry of Defence civil servant”.
Having now spent the past few weeks getting to know her team and some of the key community leaders from villages within the SBAs, she was full of praise for what she has seen so far.
She explained: “I’ve been impressed by the whole team. Cypriot colleagues have such an important role providing the continuity and corporate memory when many UK-based personnel move on and they provide invaluable insight on the political and cultural context we operate in and we aim to make jobs open for Cypriot nationals wherever we can.
“The good working relationship the SBA Administration has with leaders from communities within the SBAs is really important and I hope very much to maintain close co-operation on the many areas where we work closely together.
“I met many of the community leaders at the Administrator’s Garden Reception a couple of weeks ago and I hope over the coming weeks and months to get out and visit people in their communities.”
And in addressing her new role and the challenges that lie ahead over the coming months, including the introduction of Non-Military Development, she said: “There’s a lot going on with a number of projects endorsed through the Integrated Review process and the planned introduction of Non-Military Development. This will enable Cypriots to develop property for residential and business purposes and it is a very big change for the Administration and I’m really happy to be part of the team responsible for making sure we do this right.
“I was absolutely delighted to be appointed into the Chief Officer role. The UK Government’s agenda for persistent engagement puts the Sovereign Base Areas in the spotlight, so it’s a great time to be here.
“It’s a big job and offers an amazing blend of leadership, policy and delivery challenges, from the grand strategic, to the very practical, all of which really excites me.
“Everyone I have met in my first few weeks has been really welcoming and as I start to get under the skin of how we operate, it’s clear we have a lot of very skilled people working very hard on things that are really important to us and our allies.
And like many other personnel posted to Cyprus in the past, she also revealed the British weather would not be missed by her family: “For me, I love the weather and the ability to plan a barbeque knowing the weather will be okay and we are all enjoying exploring and taking the opportunity to do outdoor activities like water-skiing and swimming in the sea.”