My husband, Andy Barnard, who has died of cancer aged 52, was a highly respected diplomat. As a committed European, Andy worked for the British civil service’s European fast stream, followed by 20 years at the European commission, and, latterly, for the European External Action Service in Belgium, Bangladesh and Kenya.
He was born in Folkestone, Kent, to Tatiana (nee Lebedeva), who was from Russia, and Philip Barnard. His parents had met while teaching English in Ghana. Andy spent his childhood in Watford, Hertfordshire, where he began his lifelong relationship with Watford FC, which he supported from the age of six. Even when the family later moved to London for his father’s work in adult education and training, he never missed an opportunity to cheer on the Hornets.
After attending Alleyn’s school in Dulwich, south London, Andy became a metallurgy student at St Catherine’s College, Oxford, before moving over to philosophy, politics and economics, graduating with a 2:1 in 1990.
He began his career in the civil service while studying for a master’s in economics at Birkbeck, University of London. In the mid-1990s he moved to Brussels to work for the EU as a seconded national expert specialising in the transition of the former Soviet Union countries towards market economies and, notably, the challenges in the energy sector.
Andy was fluent in Russian and used his linguistic skill in Tbilisi, Georgia, where he worked from 1997 to 2000 as an economist. He also wrote for the Economist and founded and edited a cultural magazine, Tbilisi Pastimes. It was in Georgia that Andy and I met and married.
In 2000, he passed an open competition to join the European commission and we moved from Georgia to Belgium. Our son, Rainsey Barnard, was born in 2004, followed by another son, Sachin Weaver, in 2007. My husband remained based in Belgium, but took up postings to Bangladesh and Kenya.
He was an original thinker, a gifted bridge player and a firm believer in the EU. His great generosity of spirit meant he had a wide and diverse circle of friends. His recent time in Kenya had brought a renewed sense of adventure and fulfilment in both his family and professional life.
Andy is survived by me, our sons, his parents and his sister, Ann.