US ambassador Matthew Barzun praises Northampton’s Guildhall during visit to the town

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The United States ambassador praised the “beauty” of Northampton’s Guildhall during a visit to the town today.

Matthew Barzun, President Obama’s representative in London, was invited to Northampton by MP Michael Ellis and was taken to Kingsthorpe College to meet sixth form students and then attended a reception at the Guildhall.

Mr Barzun, who was presented with a pair of Churches slippers and a book of Icons of Northampton, said he was very impressed with the council headquarters.

He said: “I love London but I love getting outside of London into the great cities and towns that make the UK great. At almost every stop I try to meet with the next generation of UK leaders and I went to Kingsthorpe College where I met about 100 sixth formers.

“Then I got to come to this great space (the Guildhall) where George Washington’s great-great-great-grandfather served twice as mayor of Northampton. We wouldn’t be America without George Washington.

“Northampton has beautiful buildings. The design of the Guildhall shows how seriously civic life was taken and it’s always interesting to see these sort of spaces.”

The ambassador said he had received some thoughtful feedback from the sixth form students at Kingsthorpe and would be feeding back their views to President Obama.

Mr Barzun said: “When I do these sessions with young people they write their frustrations and then write hopes and inspirations.

“Their main frustration was guns, 60 per cent of the children drew a picture of a gun or wrote the word gun.

“What inspires them about America was freedom, equality, rights and opportunity and President Obama. I will take everything they said and I will form it into a word cloud and when I meet with President Obama I give him the latest, updated version of this word cloud from around the UK.

“So the contributions today will be sent back to the President and the White House.”

Conservative MP for Northampton North Michael Ellis said “it was a real pleasure to invite the US ambassador to Northampton.”

He said: “The ambassador really is helping showcase the town which is exactly what we want.

“The students were fascinated to have this opportunity to ask all these questions of the US ambassador.”

Debbie Morrison, Principal of Kingsthorpe College, said: “We are truly privileged to have had a visit from the US Ambassador, Matthew Barzun, who was keen to engage with our students and to reinforce for them the ethos of Kingsthorpe College that every student has the potential to make a really positive difference in the world”.