Tributes paid to Penarth man that was the Honorary Consul for Lithuania for more than ten years

RECOGNITION: Anthony Packer was recently awarded the Order of the Diplomatic Star in recognition of his diplomatic service work

PRESENTATION: Anthony Packer with, from left, Marie Curie Hospice Manager, Karen Stephens, Lithuanian Ambassador to the UK, Asta Skaisgiryt? Liauškien?, and Deputy Presiding Officer of the National Assembly, David Melding AM.

NURSING: Marie Curie nurse, Heledd Saunders, with Mr Anthony Packer at the Cardiff and Vale Marie Curie Hospice

DIPLOMATIC VISIT: Lithuanian Ambassador to the UK, Asta Skaisgiryt? Liauškien?, with Anthony Packer.

First published in News

TRIBUTES have been paid to a Penarth man that was the Honorary Consul for Lithuania for more than ten years after he died last week, January 20.

Anthony Packer died at the age of 74 after battling prostate cancer at the Cardiff and Vale Marie Curie Hospice.

He was recently presented with the Order of the Diplomatic Star, the highest distinction in the Lithuanian diplomatic service, in recognition of his diplomatic service work.

The title made him a knight of Lithuania and was presented to him by the Lithuanian Ambassador to the UK Asta Skaisgiryt? Liauškien?

During his time as honorary consul he forged strong links between universities in Wales and Lithuania as well as organising the visit of Vytautas Landsbergis’, the first post-Soviet President of independent Lithuania, to Wales.

He also persuaded Landsbergis to publish his memoirs and helped translate, edit and publish his autobiography ‘Lithuania – Independent Again’.

Michael Rye, the honorary consul for Belarus, described Mr Packer as a “good man” and said that in his role as President of the Consular Association for Wales he always offered advice to those in need.

“His advice to us and his knowledge of diplomacy was always exceptional,” he said.

“He was always knowledgeable and gave advice to us at any time.”

He added that Mr Packer was always thinking about ways to improve relations between Wales and Lithuania.

“It was one of the things that was most important to him, building an understanding between the two countries, whether that was an educational basis or cultural one.

“He always wanted to take the best of Wales to Lithuania and the best of Lithuania to Wales.”

He added that outside of diplomacy he was always good to talk to.

“He was a good person to talk to and you could always turn to him to help solve a problem if you had one.

“He was a good man to know and was always happy to talk about anything over a glass of beer, which we did on numerous occasions.

“He could entertain you with stories with parts of his life that you never knew about.”

Anthony Packer is survived by his wife Ann, children Rhiannon, David, Cerian and Tomos, and grand-children Kajsa, Oliver, Tomos, Elis, Alys, Annest, William and Steffan.

Further information about Mr Packer's life:

•Anthony Packer was born in Caerleon in 1939 and raised in Hengoed, Cwm Rhymni. He was taught at The Grammar School for Boys, Pengam and at the Grammar School for Boys, Barry (later Barry Boys).

•He subsequently studied at the University of Wales, College Cardiff (History), Cuddesdon College, Oxford (Theology), the London School of Economics (Social Administration) and the University of Liverpool (Psychiatric Social Work).

•He began his career in London as a teacher before beginning work as a psychiatric social worker in a number of local hospitals.

•Afterwards he became the Chief Administrator for the Family Welfare Association before becoming the chief trainer for child counselling at the world renowned Tavistock clinic in London.

•Wanting to return to Wales with his wife and then three children (later to become four), he took up a lectureship at Cardiff University. He initially split his time between the Department of Social Work and the Department of Education, before moving on a full time basis into the Department of Education from 1984 onwards, through to his retirement in 2001.

•He taught himself Welsh and subsequently advanced the development of its use in Education and Social Work throughout Wales.

•He was for four years the joint editor of the academic journal The Welsh Journal of Education and for two years the chairman of the department of Economics and Sociology of Welsh Guild of Graduates.

•He was very active for a time in local politics, being heavily involved with Plaid Cymru in Penarth and Dinas Powys for a long period of his life.

•However, he also believed that he could advance the cause of Wales by pursuing recognition of Wales, its language, culture and qualities as a place in which to do business at an international level.

•In particular he sought to develop close links between Wales and the Baltic States. He was one of the founding members of the Baltic Society in Wales in 1991.

•Six weeks prior to Lithuania’s unilateral declaration of independence he led a delegation to the country (repeated in 1993) to help the authorities de-Sovietise the country’s education system and other institutions.

•Though the country was still under the control of Moscow, he visited the headquarters of Sajudis, the movement for an independent Lithuania, with a message from the general secretary of Plaid Cymru. It was a simple note of democratic regard, and support for the movement’s objectives, but was the first such message to come from any British political party.

•It was this act of disobedience that led to his initial acquaintance and subsequent friendship with Vytautas Landsbergis, the first President of Independent Lithuania.

•Through this friendship he was able to persuade Landsbergis to visit Cardiff at the inivitation of the Lord Mayor in 1993 and again 2001.

•He later persuaded Landsbergis to publish his memoirs, which he also helped translate into English.

•He served as the Treasure of the International Round Table for the Advancement of Counselling (IAC-IRTAC) from 1983 to 1992.

•He was also a trustee of the Welsh Centre for International Affairs, and the Treasurer and deputy-Chairman of the United Nations Association in Wales,

•He also represented the Catholic Archbishop of Cardiff on the steering committee of the UK 3 Faiths Forum.

•He served as President of the Consular Association for Wales and also for six years as its Secretary, presiding over its significant expansion and the advancement of its aims towards the active promotion of business and cultural links between Wales and the countries represented by its 29 members.

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