Young and going places

YDL President Verne Augustin of St Lucia

Verne Augustin’s smile is instantly recognisable on the diplomatic circuit – which is no mean feat for a junior diplomat from a small mission in a huge capital.

Much of that, says St Lucia’s vice consul, is due to the networking opportunities he has enjoyed as a member of the Young Diplomats in London (YDL), one of the capital’s most active diplomatic associations of which he is the newly-elected president.

“Getting involved in the YDL has expanded my contacts with all sorts of embassies, which has helped me tremendously in my work as a consul. It can be tough making contact at a mission, so knowing someone on the inside helps,” he says.

From the start of a young diplomats’ posting, the YDL is ready to help, by joining with Embassy Events in the induction seminar and the Dean’s Welcome Reception.

YDL events can help put small missions with limited resources on the map – such as Lesotho, which featured in the Solstice Party at London’s Guildhall as well as the Caribbean Connections party at Marlborough House, which showcased the Caribbean missions, followed by a trip to St Lucia organised by Verne, who used his contacts at the St Lucia Tourist Board to put together a dream holiday for YDL members.

The events raise thousands for good causes – such as HIV aids orphans in Lesotho, St Mungos, a charity for London’s homeless, or Kids for Kids, which aids Darfur’s children.

“The YDL is also about professional development,” adds Verne, pointing to the business breakfasts and debates series, in association with Chatham House, where young diplomats get together to discuss hot topics.

And being a member won’t cost a penny, thanks to sponsors such as IDS, BMW Park Lane and the Embassy of Kuwait.

Taking over from Bernard Hamilton, Verne knows he has some big shoes to fill. “I plan to continue his good work with a packed programme of events and a few surprises,” he smiles. A fashion show, an art exhibition, a world music festival and some family-friendly events are just some of the ideas Verne has up his sleeve.

A recruitment drive is a priority, to get more missions involved. “I want my presidency to continue what we started and strengthen the multiculturalism and creativity of the YDL – with a smile at all times!”