Former MP and world-reknowned war correspondent to speak at meeting of Athenaeum Club


Martin Bell, world-reknowned war correspondent, author and lecturer and former MP, is returning to Bury St Edmunds with the words of his former adjutant ringing in his ears.

“The trouble with you, Corporal Bell, is that you think too much,” is the phrase which springs readily to mind for him.

For he is the guest speaker at the Athenaeum Club, in Bury St Edmunds, at 10.30am on Wednesday, April 25 when he will address the club on “50 Years in the Unquiet Corners of the World Starting in the Gibraltar Barracks Bury St Edmunds.

First established in 1854 the Athenaeum Club has a long tradition of hosting eminent writers and speakers and Mr Bell will follow in the footsteps of Charles Dickens, William Thackeray, Charles Kingsley and Terry Waite.

He is one of the last old soldiers of the Suffolk Regiment and completed his basic training in Bury St Edmunds in 1957 going on to serve with the 1st Battalion on active service in Cyprus until May 1959. He describes it as the best education he ever had.

He has written a book about it, End of Empire.

He joined the BBC in Norwich in 1962 and moved to London in 1964. His assignments included the conflict in Northern Ireland and wars in Vietnam, the Middle East (1967 and 1973), Nigeria, Angola, Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, Nicaragua, El Salvador, the Gulf, Croatia and Bosnia, where he was wounded. He gave evidence on five occasions to the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague.

In 1997 he entered the House of Commons as MP for Tatton, the first elected Independent since 1951. He served for one term and was described in the press as “a fully paid up member of the awkward squad”.

He has been a UNICEF ambassador since 2001 and has travelled for UNICEF to Burundi, Tajikistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Lebanon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

He has written eight books, including a book of light and dark verse, has had a chrysanthemum named after him and a calypso written against him. In January this year he became a winner of the BBC’s Celebrity Mastermind.

The Athenaeum Club has been meeting in the Georgian Athenaeum building on the Angel Hill for 164 years and welcomes visitors.

Members are invited to attend Mr Bell’s talk at no cost and tickets are available for non members at £3.

For more information on joining the Athenaeum Club or to purchase a ticket call in at the Athenaeum Club between 10am and noon on a Wednesday morning or telephone The Athenaeum Club on 07902 335735.

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