(L-R): Dan Eischen, Chairman BCC; Ambassador Fleur Thomas; David Goldrake; Andrew Greening, sponsor;

On Friday 22 April 2022, the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) in Luxembourg held a "Magical Easter Lunch" at the Hémicycle in Luxembourg-Kirchberg, attracting 125 members and guests.

Dain Eischen, BCC Chairman, welcomed everyone to the event, expressing his delight that members could attend a major BCC event in-person. He recalled that the chamber's traditionally largest event of the year, the Christmas lunch, had to be cancelled over the past two years, with the 2020 event cancelled as the chamber was forced to do so in the second wave of the pandemic, and the 2021 event cancelled based on a decision by the chamber itself as they adapted to what was happening. He explained that the BCC became resilient and inventive and decided to postpone the large event to Easter 2022, during which the chamber is celebrating its 30th anniversary when the chamber will both look back over the past 30 years and also look forward to the future, examining how the chamber can have influence and create value, as well as being sustainable (the BCC has recently created the Sustainability Group).

He thanked the chamber's officers, council members, group and both Rebecca and Louise in the secretariat, and sponsor Andrew Greening. 

He mentioned the chamber's special 30th anniversary event that will take place on 30 June at the British ambassador's residence. 

The meal was then served, with a salmon starter, oriental chicken main course, and chocolate dessert.

The British Ambassador to Luxembourg, Fleur Thomas, then addressed those attending, in a 35-minute address. She had arrived in the Grand Duchy in April 2021, just over a year ago, and has yet to address the British Chamber and its members as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions. She recalled that on her way over to Luxembourg, hers was just one of eight cars on the Eurotunnel on that particular journey. She recalled the impact that the pandemic had and stated that she hopes that 2022 will be a better COVID year.

She presented a taste of the work that the Embassy has undertaken over the past year. including referencing Brexit being implemented from 1 January last year since when the embassy has helped smooth the transition. In May, the UK and Luxembourg signed a bilateral MOU on various issues where common accords were agreed. She mentioned too a series of webinars for importers, exporters and freight forwarders, etc.

The UK's COP26 presidency was another issue she covered, addressing tackling climate change, green steel, zero emission vehicles, etc., as well as tree planting and installing an insect hotel at the ambassador's residence. 

She also referenced working with the BCC on various issues including round-table events, and also planning the future of financial services relationships and strong bilateral cooperation, plus dialogue on inclusion and diversity.

She recalled the visits of various personalities and also the fostering of closer relations with the Luxembourg army and participating in various online events.

She stated that she was delighted with the close working collaboration with the British Chamber and also referenced the LuxUKLinks, congratulating the former ambassador and mentioning the first prize it was awarded in November at the Luxembourg book awards.

Looking ahead to later this year, she mentioned various British artists coming to Luxembourg, including Boy George (Pride event in Esch-sur-Alzette) and Tom Jones. She highlighted a couple of community / cultural events, including the British & Irish film Festival Luxembourg (BIFFL) from 16-24 September, the recent FEST schools anglophone drama event in Mersch and the events of the British Luxembourg Society. 

On the issue of defence, she recalled that she laid wreaths on RAF war graves and o Remembrance Sunday in November at a service of the Anglican Church in Luxembourg. She also hosted a lunch for the Ukraine Chargé d'Affaires in Luxembourg and stated "it is now very clear that the Russian government was never interested in diplomacy...", also mentioning sanctions by the UK government and commending the Luxembourg government on support for refugees from Ukraine.

She said that she is really forward to the upcoming trade visit by Luxembourg companies to the UK, as well as the invitation to Fernand Etgen, the speaker of the Luxembourg parliament, to the House of Commons in London, and 9 June when the embassy will be celebrating the Queen's platinum jubilee.

Next up, and who many people had come to see, was illusionist David Goldrake who is originally from Luxembourg but has has a residency in Las Vegas for four year involving 6 shows a week. 

He entertained those attending for almost 45 minutes with a varied repertoire of illusions, escapology, mind-reading and more. A born entertainer, his performance was slick and polished, both his continuous patter and his illusions.

In one way it felt like he had never left Luxembourg; in another he has raised his game even more that when he was entertaining on the local circuit in the Grand Duchy. While many at the lunch event has seen him entertain before, there were many who had not. Audience participation and engagement are high on David's close rapport with his audiences who he initially split into "believers" and "sceptics". 

The audience was spellbound throughout his routine which included a card trick, inspiration from Leonardo da Vinci, a rope escape, mind-reading and illusions with razor blades as well as another trick involving inter-linking rings from audience members. 

The event may have taken longer than most; however, all those attending were delighted to be able to meet and mingle with other members, many of whom had not seen each other in person for two or more years...

The British Chamber is back and has a lot to look forward to in its 30th anniversary year.