Almost 100 people attended the VUKN’s Summer lunch on 10 July, in The Cholmondeley Room, House of Lords. The occasion got off to a great start with the opportunity to watch from the terrace the flypast of 100 aircraft marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of the RAF.
After introducing our host, Lord Dholakia, Deputy Leader of the Lib-Dems in the Lords, Chairman Warwick Morris reminded those present that 2018 marked the 5th anniversary of the Network and the 45th anniversary of UK-Vietnam diplomatic relations. He highlighted the presence of our Special Guest the Rt Hon Ed Vaizey MP, the PM’s Special Representative for Trade with Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, as well as Wayne David MP, Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APAG) for Vietnam and Group colleagues, HE the Ambassador of Vietnam Mr Tran Ngoc An, and the British Ambassador-designate to Vietnam, Gareth Ward. Among the many new faces present, he welcomed officials dealing with Vietnam from the Department for International Trade(DIT). Finally Warwick thanked Ben Chapman, his predecessor as Chairman for his sterling contribution to the Network, and was pleased to say that Ben was now Joint Honorary President.
After Lord Dholakia’s welcome to the House and words of support to the relationship and the Network, lunch was served. Ed Vaizey then spoke of the importance he attached to the growth in bilateral business and the role he had played in recent JETCO talks with the Vietnamese Government. He looked forward to visiting Vietnam again and to working closely with the Network. HE Ambassador An spoke of the impressive increase in bilateral business, including some investment from Vietnam to the UK, as well as the growing links in a range of areas including defence and peacekeeping, giving as one example the Vietnamese taking over from British forces in running a field hospital in South Sudan. The 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations would be celebrated through a variety of events, including a Deputy Prime Ministerial visit to the UK in October.
Thanks to Vietnam Airlines’ generosity, a draw was held and one lucky winner was presented by Gareth Ward with two return tickets to Vietnam. Rounding off the lunch and the networking drinks on the terrace which preceded it, Vice Chairman Paul Smith reminded those present of the VUKN’s aims, and of the fact that it is a voluntary body, run by volunteers and receiving no funding from governments. It depended on sponsors for support to enable it to carry out its activities in a wide range of fields. He hoped more people and companies would come forward to assist, not least with some exciting business and cultural events being considered for October. Vietnam was a profitable place for many British businesses and here was an opportunity to celebrate and to put something back.
Photo of the Lunch can be found here.