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UK’s Ambassador to Israel a Past Pupil of Bangor Grammar

A diplomat working to ease the horrors of the war in Gaza is from Northern Ireland.

As the UK’s ambassador to Israel, Bangor man Simon Walters is involved in behind-the-scenes negotiations.

The Middle East specialist previously worked as director of national security in the region for the Foreign Office.

He was appointed to his current role just months before the war broke out.

Mr Walters said he had been “extremely fortunate” to land the job, which he described as “an opportunity I was not going to let pass”.

In a recent interview, he said the UK needed Israel to win the war against Hamas but also cautioned: “Israel must adhere to the laws of war.”

The former Bangor Grammar pupil wrote an article for his old school’s magazine, saying: “I do recognise that some of the factors which got me to where I am now do go back to my time at Bangor Grammar School.”

He added he had been tempted to join the police, but “the RUC had the good sense not to reply to my application — I would have made a terrible policeman”.

He also wrote how he remembered his school days with “fondness, perhaps aided by the anaesthetic effects of distance”, including “the flap of gowns, bad jokes about the life-threateningly caustic canteen custard (and) horizontal sleet at the Ballymac playing fields”.

In a speech just before he took up his latest role, Mr Walters said being brought up at the height of the Troubles gave him a keen awareness of the dangers of sectarianism.

He had barely begun to find his feet as ambassador when Hamas launched a wave of attacks on October 7, killing at least 1,200 people.

Mr Walters is no stranger to conflict zones, having previously worked in Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen.

He was then appointed to what he described as “a rather more comfortable job” in Jerusalem, “a city my wife and I quickly fell in love with”.

After that, he had a series of postings in London, followed by a stint in Istanbul, which he described as “one of the great cities of the world”.

Source: Belfast Telegraph