Brendan McSharry

Brendan McSharry OBE has served as country director for the British Council in six countries in Asia and Africa. Overall, he has worked in thirteen countries across four continents.

McSharry grew up in a Roman Catholic community in North-West London. He came to St David’s College because it was far away from big city life. He remembers Lampeter as an intimate place of learning and community living, set in an idyllic, rural Welsh-speaking environment. He used to hitch lifts from London to Lampeter at the start of term; once he was picked up by a lorry driver who spoke no English, only Welsh. As well as studying, McSharry captained the college cross-country team, the Harriers Club. (Later in life, he went on to run a number of marathons.)  

He graduated with a BA in English and History. He believes that his time at Lampeter was formative, as the college made him ‘open my mind, think critically, enjoy reading and learning, value diversity, value the past and appreciate friendship.’ 

On graduating, McSharry went back to London to work as an occupational training co-ordinator at the Department of Employment. Then, he went back to academia to study for a Postgraduate Certificate in Education at the University of Exeter. (A few years later he also took an MA in Linguistics and ELT at the University of Leeds.) 

McSharry’s career overseas began in 1975; he was to spend the next 41 years working in cultural relations, education and training, mostly for the British Council. His first destination was Sweden, where he worked as a teacher of English as a Foreign Language at the Folkuniversitetet Kursverksamheten. He went on to work as a TEFL instructor in Italy, Indonesia, Thailand, Iraq and Ecuador. He has also served as an educational and cultural programme manager in the adult and aid development sectors. He has been country director for the British Council in Yemen, Zambia, Bahrain, Iraq, Nepal, Bangladesh and Palestine. He was regional director for the Levant area in the Middle East from 2015 to 2018.  

His role had its challenges. In Yemen, a member of senior staff was kidnapped, together with his wife and child. McSharry said, ‘Sometimes there is inter-tribal warfare within areas of Yemen which are no-go.’ The victim ‘was coming to a meeting and didn’t turn up. We got a message from one of my students saying what had happened.’ Thankfully, the situation was safely resolved. McSharry has also coped with scud missiles in Iraq where he lived in a mortar-proof pod, the evacuation of a teacher facing death threats in Thailand, and an earthquake in Nepal. The rewarding elements have included providing skills training for disadvantaged young people, linking UK and overseas educational institutions, facilitating postgraduate study in Britain for public sector personnel from developing countries, and promoting artists with disabilities.  

McSharry was awarded an MBE for services to education in Italy in 1994 and an OBE for services to education and culture in Iraq in 2012. He is a University of Cambridge CELTA & DELTA tutor and assessor, and an Associate Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. He is currently an educational advisor to the Anglo-German Institute in Stuttgart. His interests include fitness and wellbeing, military history, language learning, comparative religion and international affairs. He is a member of the Virginia Woolf Society and the Charleston House Trust. He is a committed member of the Lampeter Society and current editor of the alumni magazine, The Link. He is also hoping to study part-time  for a UWTSD MA in creative writing. 

McSharry lives with his husband in Stuttgart, Germany. 

Sources 

McSharry, B. (2018). Distinguished alumni. The Link. 71,16. Retrieved July 17, 2020, from https://www.uwtsd.ac.uk/media/uwtsd-website/content-assets/documents/lampeter-society-/thelink2018.pdf 

McSharry, B. (2020). Brendan McSharry’s experience in the late 60s: 1968-1971. The Link. 76,15-16. Retrieved July 17, from https://www.uwtsd.ac.uk/media/uwtsd-website/content-assets/documents/alumni/lampeter-society/the-link-summer-2020.pdf 

Brendan of Arabia. (1999, May 29). Greater London, Kent, and Surrey Counties PublicationsRetrieved from https://infoweb.newsbank.com/resources/doc/nb/news/10D8758671D691EE?p=UKNB