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A Landmark Birthday

Former Governor Mr. Thomas Russell, CMG, CBE turned 90 on Thursday 27 May.

Thomas Russell, CMG, CBE, reached his landmark 90th birthday on Thursday, 27 May.

Mr Russell served as Governor of the Cayman Islands from 1974 - 1981, and then took up the offer to establish the Cayman Islands Government Office in London. He served as the first Cayman Islands Representative in the UK from 1982 - 1990.

At the same time, he has been involved with the Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League for almost 30 years, initially representing Cayman Islands veterans, then additionally as Chairman of the Welfare Committee for 12 years, and latterly as an honorary member of the Executive Committee.

HRH the Duke of Edinburgh is the Grand President of RCEL and once a year presides over a meeting held at Buckingham Palace. This year that meeting was held on Wednesday, 19 May, and the Duke of Edinburgh presented Mr Russell with a gift from RCEL to mark the occasion of his 90th; Mr Russell joked with the Duke that it would be his turn next year!

The planned 90th celebrations (to be held near Mr Russell's second home in France) were almost abandoned due to the sudden and untimely death of his son, Malcolm, on 21 April. However, it was eventually decided to go ahead with a gathering, which marked his special birthday but was also a celebration of Malcolm's life.

The event was organised by Margaret Barwick (who was also celebrating her birthday on the same day); her daughter, Jan; and her husband, Philippe. About 20 people gathered at a country restaurant in the Lot Valley region - a mix of French and English friends enjoyed a splendid meal on a lovely sunny day.

Cayman connections were represented: Mary Chandler-Allen (Mr Russell's former PA in the Cayman Islands from 1980-82, and now Acting Head of the Cayman Islands London Office) and her husband travelled to France for the occasion. Also present were former Commissioner of Police Andrew Greiff and his wife, and former member of the Maritime Authority, Ship Surveyor Brian Thompson and his wife, who both have homes in the area.