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'Dad's an Afghanistan hero but I'd sooner meet Mr Bean at the palace'

By The Citizen  |  Posted: September 26, 2013

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INTERNATIONAL development adviser Iain King's astonishing career has taken him from meetings with Sinn Fein to an office in a former Afghan opium den.

The 42-year-old local boy done good, who grew up near Wotton-under-Edge, is about to pick up a CBE for his bravery during work on the front line in Helmand and also in Kosovo and Libya.

Now a father of two, Mr King, whose parents live near Yorkley in the Forest of Dean, said the honour was 'nice' to have.

"My eldest son is at an age where he'll be able to come to Buckingham Palace with me," Mr King said.

"But I think he's most excited because he wants to meet Mr Bean – aka Rowan Atkinson – who is also receiving an honour.

"I hope he's not too disappointed if we don't see him on the day."

A former pupil of Katharine Lady Berkeley's Comprehensive, Mr King read politics, philosophy and economics at Oxford University.

He went to work for the Liberal Democrats on the Northern Ireland peace process and was the first Lib Dem to meet Sinn Fein leaders after the IRA ceasefire.

As a government adviser for the Department for International Development, he's completed stints in Kosovo, Libya and Afghanistan as a stabilisation adviser.

In Helmand, where his office was a former opium den, he helped reduce the amount of heroin and other drugs being produced.

Mr King, who currently lives in London, still often visits Gloucestershire and has friends in Wotton-under-Edge.

He said it was a school trip to see the Oxford colleges which shaped his future.

"I remember being astonished about the opulence of the place and feeling it was unfair," he said.

"It was the year of Live Aid, the world was shining a light on poverty in development countries and it made me think about injustice in the world."

Mr King was flown into Benghazi in Libya during the 2011 war at less than 12 hours' notice and in the thick of the Arab Spring. Safe there, despite a car bomb outside, it was "exhilarating" he said.

"The Libyans were incredibly optimistic, having seen the back of their dictator."

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