Supper at the embassy

Pasquale Terracciano, the Italian ambassador, has again shown his appreciation of the work done by the

Nick Young, left, and Vanni Treves

Monte San Martino Trust by hosting a supper for its supporters at Italy’s magnificent embassy in London’s Grosvenor Square.

The supper, on October  23rd 2014, was similar to the one kindly hosted by the ambassador and his wife, Karen, the previous year – with the added elements of a musical performance and a story read by novelist Frederick Forsyth, himself a supporter of the Trust.

At a private ceremony before the supper, the ambassador formally awarded Vanni Treves, chairman of MSMT’s fund-raising Appeal, the honour of Cavaliere Ufficiale, within the Italian Republic’s Ordine della Stella d’Italia. The award recognises his tireless efforts in driving forward the £1m Appeal, which is aimed at securing the long-term future of the Trust’s programme of bursaries for Italian students. The Appeal, launched in late-2011, has now raised more than £780,000, with donations in the pipeline that will take the sum beyond £850,000.

After a graceful address of welcome by Mr Terracciano, the 65 guests listened to music by Chopin and Mendelssohn performed by the pianist Beatrice Botti, professor at the Sassari Conservatory. Following supper, Sir Nick Young, chairman of the Monte San Monte Trust, spoke about MSMT, recalling the debt owed by his own family to the Italian contadini who had sheltered his father, an escaping prisoner of war.

By now, the time had arrived to see if the guests had done their “homework”.  If they had not read the nine-tenths of a short story by Frederick Forsyth, sent to them before the embassy event, they would not be in a position to enjoy the conclusion – which was to be read to them at the supper by the author.

In his preface, sent out to the guests, Mr Forsyth explained that the short story, entitled The Miracle, had come to him while he was strolling through the alleys of Siena. “The story formed in my head as I stared around me. A tale of mystery and magic, maybe a miracle, based on the mysterious figure of a young novice nun who had once stood where I stood.” Mr Forsyth urged the guests ahead of the supper “not to cheat” and to resist tracking down the last two pages of the story, which was published a few years ago. Instead they should wait patiently until they went to the embassy, when he would read the conclusion.

Judging from the applause when this was eventually read, the guests had indeed read the nine-tenths sent to them, but no more  – and thus had not cheated.

The Trust is extremely grateful to the ambassador and Mrs Terracciano for hosting the event, and to Edoardo Napoli, Counsellor at the embassy, for liaising with Vanni Treves over its organisation.

The guests included: Earl and Countess Cadogan; Hon. Olga Polizzi; Hon. William Shawcross; Damian Collins, MP; Dame Gail Ronson; Mr Gerald Ronson; Sir David and Lady Scholey; Lord and Lady Craigmyle; Sir Nick and Lady Young; Sir David Bell; Lord and Lady Digby Jones; Lord and Lady Stevenson; Mr Andrew Fane and Dr Clare Marx; Mrs Angela Treves.

A report in Italian of the event can be read at