UWC Red Cross Nordic would like to express its sadness at the news that Antonin Besse, patron and honorary vice-president of UWC, has passed away and to extend our thanks to his family for his deep commitment to UWC since its founding and, in particular, for his support of students from the Yemen who have studied here at RCN over the past 21 years.

It was Antonin who bought and donated St Donat’s Castle for the founding of Atlantic College back in 1962 and who, later, contributed to the founding of the UWCs in Italy and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Closer to home, a few years ago Alistair, our Deputy Rektor, and I were on the phone to the Yemeni National Committee and were in the process of giving a full report on the Yemeni students on campus at the time – a few minutes into the conversation, something began to dawn on Alistair and he began to mouth to me that ‘Tony from the NC’ was, in fact Antonin Besse II (one of the founding figures of UWC). Highly articulate, erudite and perceptive, Tony was committed to following the progress of Yemeni students on our campus – a phone call from Tony from his flat in Paris was never short and always enjoyable. With support from the British Council, he would carry out selections himself with his motto at the heart of his forging connection between the backgrounds of the students and UWC: ‘From Nowhere to Somewhere’.

He was a great admirer of Tom Gresvig, one of the founding members of Red Cross Nordic, and regretted that he had never found an opportunity to visit our campus.

Our Yemeni students owe him a debt of gratitude and so do all members of our College, past and present, given the rich addition of our Yemeni students to our deliberately diverse community over the years.

Frenchman, Arabist, businessman, educator and friend – we thank you for all that you gave to UWC and educating for peace and a sustainable future.

For more information on Tony’s life, his support of UWC, his father (and his partnership with Kurt Hahn), please click here for an extract from David Sutcliffe’s book ‘Kurt Hahn and the United World Colleges with other founding figures’.