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Peter Penfold, CMG, OBE


Retired diplomat, former British High Commissioner to Sierra Leone

Before his retirement in January 2002 Peter Penfold was a member of the British Diplomatic Service for 38 years, most of which time was spent serving in, or in contact with, Africa and the Caribbean (especially Commonwealth countries), covering all aspects of diplomatic life. He was responsible for advising and implementing policy on relations with Africa and the Caribbean, including conflict prevention/resolution the administration of Britain's overseas territories, and combating the drugs problem. He served in various "hotspots" around the world, witnessing several coups, insurrections, civil wars, kidnappings and hurricanes, and oversaw several successful evacuations of the British and international communities. He was awarded the CMG (1995) and OBE (1986).

British High Commissioner to Sierra Leone.

He was closely identified with the country's attempts to embrace democracy and achieve stability and lasting peace. His experiences brought him into face to face negotiations with rebels and close contact with local and international humanitarian and emergency agencies. He worked closely with the United Nations, with members of the international community, and with British and African military forces. Twice evacuated, he spent 10 months running his mission from a hotel room in neighbouring Guinea. In recognition of his efforts he was appointed a Paramount Chief by the Sierra Leone people and made a Freeman of the city of Freetown.