He’s been scram­bled out of Pak­istan, was a diplo­mat in Yu­goslavia as the coun­try fell apart, ne­go­ti­ated nu­clear deals with Rus­sia and even his name has a fas­ci­nat­ing back-story

EDP Norfolk - - INSIDE - WORDS: Rowan Man­tell

Lorne Green’s re­mark­able life and times

Lorne Green’s first job was in his fam­ily’s gro­cery shop. There were no staff, just his mum and dad and sis­ter and him to run the shop seven days a week from morn­ing to mid­night. Lorne would gaze at the mag­a­zines full of pho­to­graphs of ex­otic places and dream of tak­ing one of the trains which ran past his home in a small Cana­dian town to see the world.

Now 73, Lorne, po­lice and crime com­mis­sioner for Nor­folk, can look back on a diplo­matic ca­reer that has taken him around the globe

It was in the fam­ily shop that he got talk­ing to a cus­tomer who turned out to be a Cana­dian MP. Later he got him his first taste of po­lit­i­cal life, as a stu­dent guide 1,000 miles away in Canada’s par­lia­ment. Two pol­i­tics de­grees,

and two at­tempts at the for­eign ser­vice ex­ams later, at just 22, Lorne landed a job at the United Na­tions in New York.

“Canada’s pol­icy was never to leave its seat un­oc­cu­pied, so some­times the most ju­nior per­son, which was me, would be sat there,” he said. It was an ideal ground­ing for his next job, in Pak­istan. Dur­ing fight­ing with In­dia the dan­ger was so great that the em­bassy was evac­u­ated to Tehran. Newly mar­ried, and with just a 15lbs bag­gage al­lowance, Lorne smug­gled an en­tire 12-place cut­lery set wed­ding gift in his coat pock­ets – in the days be­fore x-ray checks for flights “I was bent dou­ble with the weight,” he said. Ar­riv­ing in the heat of Tehran he took off the coat – and left it on the bus, never to be seen again. When they even­tu­ally re­turned to Islamabad

ev­ery­thing in their home was un­touched.

As hip­pies streamed from the west to­wards In­dia, Lorne’s work some­times in­volved trav­el­ling through the Khy­ber Pass into Afghanista­n, where peace and love came with an un­der­cur­rent of drugs and death.

In Belgrade, in the for­mer Yu­goslavia, Lorne lived next door to the tomb of the re­cently de­ceased Tito. “Coach-loads of vis­i­tors would turn up to mourn the founder of the coun­try and it was cus­tom­ary for ev­ery per­son to bring 40 roses,” he said.

As the sit­u­a­tion dark­ened and diplo­macy failed to pre­vent war, western coun­tries with­drew their staff. “I was run­ning the em­bassy when we brought in 2,500 Cana­dian peace-keep­ers. By the time I left, in 1992, the coun­try had fallen apart,” he said.

Lorne and his wife, Va­lerie, cel­e­brate their 50th wed­ding an­niver­sary in Septem­ber. They met on a bus in Canada. “I’d been wav­ing my fi­ancée good­bye when I first saw her!” he ad­mit­ted. And it is Va­lerie who brought him to Nor­folk. Her fam­ily have run Diglea Car­a­van Park in Snettisham for decades. Lorne and Va­lerie mar­ried in Snettisham church and set­tled in west Nor­folk, be­tween postings around the world – in­clud­ing Al­ba­nia, Bul­garia (when there was a coup while Lorne was based in Sofia) the Nether­lands and London.

Back in Snettisham, Lorne and Va­lerie bought The Old Bank bistro and ran it as a café. When a son was born they cel­e­brated by in­stalling flood­lights for the vil­lage church – and fund­ing them for 21 years.

They now have three chil­dren, six grand­chil­dren and, al­ways, a dog. Their roots here are deep, but there is tragedy not far back in Lorne’s fam­ily tree. He was named af­ter Cana­dian ac­tor Lorne Greene, but his own Green name was adopted from his fa­ther’s fos­ter fam­ily. Abie Green was born Abra­ham Sulivniuk, to a Pol­ish Jewish fam­ily, in a vil­lage which is now Ukrainian. He was or­phaned as a young child and he and his sib­lings were sep­a­rated. The three youngest, in­clud­ing Abie, qual­i­fied for a Cana­dian char­i­ta­ble scheme but were split be­tween three fam­i­lies. A sis­ter even­tu­ally made it to Is­rael, but the two older chil­dren, who had begged to be al­lowed to travel to Canada with their brothers, did not sur­vive the Holo­caust.

Lorne be­gan his ca­reer with the United Na­tions, es­tab­lished to pre­vent fu­ture wars. Later he worked for Nato’s nu­clear plan­ning group, help­ing ne­go­ti­ate a treaty to re­duce the num­ber of nu­clear weapons in the world. He be­came direc­tor of nu­clear and arms con­trol pol­icy in the Cana­dian de­fence min­istry and then helped launch an or­gan­i­sa­tion fo­cused on mov­ing nu­clear ma­te­rial safely.

Four years ago Lorne was try­ing, and fail­ing at, re­tire­ment when he was asked to stand as the Con­ser­va­tive can­di­date for the county’s po­lice and crime com­mis­sioner role. He is now in over­all charge of po­lice re­sources and bud­get­ing in Nor­folk, charged with en­sur­ing the po­lice are ef­fec­tive, ef­fi­cient and ac­count­able. But, a fam­ily man at heart, he has been most moved by meet­ing peo­ple who have suf­fered from do­mes­tic abuse. He has also cham­pi­oned a scheme to give Nor­wich pris­on­ers the chance to help care for dogs which need re­hom­ing.

Lorne does not plan to stand for re-elec­tion next year, but will not be re-re­tir­ing ei­ther.

Open­ing an­other restau­rant ap­peals, or per­haps academia, study­ing polic­ing and crime. Twenty five years ago he wrote two bi­ogra­phies of Scot­tish-Cana­dian engi­neer and in­ven­tor San­ford Fleming. “He was a kind of 19th cen­tury Leonardo da Vinci,” said Lorne, who has also writ­ten a book about his na­tive Canada, the cover an im­age of a lake high in the majestic Rock­ies. How­ever, ask what his favourite view in the world and there is no hes­i­ta­tion – it has to be look­ing out across the Wash from Ken Hill, Snettisham.

LEFT: Lorne, Va­lerie and their daugh­ter, with for­mer Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Jean Chre­tien a fam­ily man at heart, he has been most moved by meet­ing peo­ple who have suf­fered from do­mes­tic abuse

ABOVE: Lorne in Pak­istan

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