In recent years, British Consuls to the Algarve have come and gone, but in 2010 long-term Algarve resident Clive Jewell, 54, took up the post, and he’s hoping to be in it for the long-haul. A fluent Portuguese speaker who loves living here and “adores Portuguese food”, he’s intensely proud of his new responsibility which he says “goes beyond the job title. It is about making a difference in people’s lives when they need help the most”.
Algarve123 talked to Mr Jewell last September, and asked the following questions...
Have you seen a rise in the number of appeals for help from holidaymakers who’ve been victims of crime this year?
I have to say “no”. The statistics tell us that in terms of assistance cases, we are pretty much level with 2010. Of course, there has been heightened media interest in crime in the Algarve – particularly the Albufeira area – but unfortunately crime occurs in all countries, and that does not exclude Portugal. But the Algarve in general, and Albufeira itself, are still very popular tourist destinations. According to airport statistics the number of people travelling from Britain to Faro has actually gone up in 2011 by almost 12% - so it’s significant that we haven’t had an equivalent rise in the number of assistance cases.
Has the economic crisis brought any appeals for help from British residents?
We have helped some people who found themselves in some really difficult situations, and didn’t know where to turn – and we’re fortunate enough to have established contacts with social and welfare services here, so we were able to get them the assistance they needed, as well as get in touch with family back home. At the moment, there isn’t a marked increase in cases of hardship, but who knows what the future holds?
Does “making a difference” mean your job is filled with stress?
I tend to use that word very carefully – and would think it is much more stressful not to have a job at all – but coming from 33 years in the travel business, handling the holiday arrangements of hundreds of thousands of people, you have to become multi-skilled and know how to deal with tricky situations.
What’s your opinion on Portugal’s chances of economic recovery?
I am not an economist, or a politician – and I don’t have a crystal ball, but I truly think that whilst many people are living through extremely difficult times, if you look around the world, there is even more hardship elsewhere. I tend to look at life on a “glass half full” basis, and I think a lot of this is cyclical, so I would think of course the country will recover. But it will take patience, trust, belief and a lot of hard work.
Tell us a little of what you like most about Portugal?
From very early days here (I moved to Portugal in 1989) I’ve felt genuinely welcomed as a foreigner. You are accepted here without question. This is a beautiful country, full of history and diversity: the fantastic coastline, which is among the most beautiful anywhere; the stunning countryside – and then the contrast of the 21st century marinas, golf courses, etc. In fact the only thing I don’t like about Portugal is the rain we’ve been seeing more of recently in the winter!
And what about the food?
Now you’ve got me! I love food! I couldn’t narrow what I like down to one dish because I like it all! The fantastic grilled fish, the favas, sardines, chicken piri-piri – oh, and pastel de natas!
Do you recycle?
Funny that you ask me that, as I am quite diligent about recycling. I separate everything at home and have my own can-crushing device… and yes, I do all the recycling at the bins myself!
Clive Jewell was interviewed at the end of Summer 2011.