A life of diplomatic service has presented the new British High Commissioner Nick Leake to Mauritius a varied life, full of colourful experiences – a seemingly far cry from his upbringing in Newcastle in Northeast England with his parents and two younger brothers. How does someone go from traditional state comprehensive schooling and walks along the Northumberland beaches to life on the Indian Ocean in Mauritius? It was Nick's interest in languages!
Achance encounter at age 13 with the Asterix books owned by his French teacher prompted Nick to study harder with his French lessons so he could read them. He discovered an affinity for language and now speaks five – English, French, German, Hungarian and Bulgarian. This love of language led to his studies of European law at the University of Warwick in Central England and with his undergraduate degree, he started with the British and Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 1994.
After serving in London with FCO, Nick earned a post in Budapest, Hungary serving from 1996 to 2000. During his tenure there, he got married and was involved in a car crash that broke his back, resulting in several surgeries, leaving him with a metal brace still in place to hold his spine. It was this crash that truly changed his life.
Nick contemplated leaving the FCO for the life of a barrister in the UK but the unequivocal support he received from them kept him on path. While he may earn less than a lawyer, his work as a civil servant is rewarding, he says. Instead of leaving, he was transferred to Brussels where he served at the UK permanent representation for the EU until 2002.
For a brief time, Nick did leave the FCO for a position with the UK Finance Ministry to help prepare for the possible UK adoption of the euro. The adoption did not come to pass and he moved to the Commission for Africa as part of the UK Presidency of the G8. During this time Nick got to work with notable political figures and his travels led him through Africa, instilling a great love of the continent and its people.
A return to the FCO in 2005 led Nick to serve as Private Secretary to the Minister for Europe Denis Mac- Shane and then for Minister for Trade and Asia Ian Pearson. Before Nick's arrival in Mauritius, he served as UK Deputy Ambassador to Sofia, Bulgaria.
A New Direction
Thanks to his effective civil service and experiences in various political positions, Nick was appointed as British High Commissioner to Mauritius in 2010. He also covers other parts of the Indian Ocean Network including Seychelles, Madagascar and Comoros. He is charged with improving security of the region against piracy, boosting prosperity including improving relations between the UK and Mauritius, the second largest financial centre in Africa, and providing consular services to the British residents on Mauritius as well as the over 100,000 British tourists the island receives each year.
While the life of a frequent traveller did take its toll on Nick's marriage (his divorce was final in 2003), he is currently living in Mauritius with his partner Oana Maria Bucsa. Because of the flexibility of her employment as a press and PR manager for Naiade Resorts, she can work almost anywhere – a great perk to have when living with a partner that has a nomadic diplomat's existence. Another new direction Nick took was earning an Open University MBA degree earlier in 2010, a sure asset for his current and future work. While his accident in 1999 derailed his active participation as a wicket keeper in his favourite sport of cricket, Nick still is passionate about it. He also enjoys cycling and badminton and is taking up snorkelling, a favourite pastime for Mauritius residents and tourists. Nick's accident also taught him to appreciate what he has in life. He has learned to live for today and enjoy the moment he is in. He said that he wants no regrets so instead of not doing something, he jumps right in. This "can-do" philosophy he adopted is also one of the things he enjoys about his new home in Mauritius.
Beyond the amazing climate and scenery, he enjoys the hospitality of the Mauritius people and the fact that there is never an average day. in addition to promoting the island and serving as high commissioner, nick also spends a week each month supporting the efforts of the south African development community(SADC) and the African Union in promoting a new recognised government for Madagascar and moving past their coup regime.
Nick has embraced his new life in Mauritius by supporting the Prime Min-ister's sustainable island project. He said that all residents and tourists must share the role of protector in guarding the island's resources so that future generations can also enjoy this small remote paradise.As you can see, Nick continues to be a true civil servant and a remarkable spokesman for his new island home.
Nick's accident also taught him to appreciate what he has in life. He has learned to live for today and enjoy the moment he is in. He said that he wants no regrets so instead of not doing something, he jumps right in. This “can-do” philosophy he adopted is also one of the things he enjoys about his new home in