Sir John Holmes, GCVO, KBE, CMG, was educated at Preston Grammar School and Balliol College, Oxford. He joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1973 and served in a wide range of diplomatic roles in London, Moscow, Paris, New Delhi and Lisbon.
In 1995, Sir John joined Prime Minister John Major in Downing Street as his Private Secretary (Overseas Affairs) and diplomatic adviser. He continued this role with Prime Minister Tony Blair from 1997 to 1999, becoming Principal Private Secretary, and was a key figure in the negotiation of the Good Friday Agreement.
In 1999, Sir John was appointed as British Ambassador in Lisbon, moving to Paris as Ambassador from 2001 to 2007. He then served as UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator from 2007 to 2010, before taking over his present post as Director of the Ditchley Foundation. He is currently also chair of the Board of the International Rescue Committee – UK.
Sir John is married to Penny and they have three daughters.
Back to 'Who we are'