On Wednesday 12 July the Foreign Office dedicated a meeting room in memory of Dame Margaret Anstee. The event was hosted by the Permanent Under-Secretary, Sir Simon McDonald, and attended by Dame Margaret’s relatives and a number of Foreign Office officials. Edward Mortimer and Michael Davies attended on behalf of BAFUNCS.
The room is a large meeting room for around 40 participants located on the first floor of the Foreign Office with high frieze-lined ceilings. The most notable features, however, are six large John Piper paintings. Although they have a Spanish feel to then (which is very appropriate for Dame Margaret was a Spanish linguist and her last book was about her Spanish tutor at Cambridge) they are in fact, paintings of Brighton, Bath and Cheltenham which were originally commissioned for the British embassy in Rio de Janeiro.
Natalie Samarasinghe, UNA Executive Director, spoke a few words of appreciation about Dame Margaret and her UN career. In particular she recalled Dame Margaret’s message to the FCO Women’s Association in 2016 in which she reminisced on the difficulties of being one of the few women recruits in 1948 and regretting that the objective of full parity with men had still not been achieved, particularly in senior levels. In the letter she also recalled that: “I was the last person in the Office to see my boss, Donald Maclean on the Friday evening in May 1951 when he fled to Russia with Guy Burgess, an event which rocked the service to its foundations. I have never been questioned about our last conversation. Only the Americans later tried to stop the United Nations from sending me to Latin America because I had worked with him.
In addition, Ziaul Islam attended, on behalf of BAFUNCS and the United Nations Association of the UK, a ceremony, which took place on Sunday, 11 July 2017 in the Village Hall in Writtle, birthplace of Dame Margaret, where a plaque in her memory was unveiled. He and Lord Petrie, Lord of the Manor of Essex, jointly unveiled the plaque in the presence of members of Margaret's family, local press and other dignitaries. Ziaul also delivered a message from Edward Mortimer, former President of BAFUNCS, who was unable to attend the ceremony.