RICHARD Barlow is preparing to take a diplomatic hotseat as tensions between Argentina and the UK are severely tested.
At just 37 years old Mr Barlow has been appointed Deputy British Ambassador to Argentina.
It comes as tensions between the two countries over the Falkland Islands resurfaces — just over 30 years since the anniversary of the conflict.
But the former Clevelands School pupil, from Bolton is not fazed by his latest appointment — and says he views it as a “privilege”.
A war of words broke out between the two countries this week when The Sun newspaper published a full-page advertisement in an Argentinian paper warning the country’s president to keep her “hands off” the Falkland Islands.
It followed an open letter from president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, published as an advert in The Guardian and reported in other UK papers, in which she called for the islands to come under Argentine sovereignty.
Prime Minister David Cameron has said Falklands residents must decide their own future, with a referendum on the islands’ political status to be held in March.
Mr Barlow: “The embassy will continue to work with the Argentina Government while defending the rights of the Falklands Islanders to be governed as they decide.
“I think it has been a difficult year with relations because of the 30-year anniversary.
“There are many opportunities to develop links between the two countries. Argentinians love British music and there are opportunities in arts and sports which I want to capitalise on.”
The position is the latest promotion for the fast-rising diplomat, who is still a frequent visitor to Bolton where his mother, Rachel, still lives.
Mr Barlow is the son of the late David Barlow, who was a senior partner at the Chorley New Road chartered accountancy practice, Barlow Andrews.
After graduating from Oxford University, Mr Barlow’s love of travelling took him to Lisbon, where he taught English.
When he returned, he joined the civil service and his first appointment abroad was in Brazil where he was responsible for sustainable development, climate change, environment energy and human rights issues.
Projects included leading young people living in the poorest areas away from a life of crime and slowing down the rate of deforestation of the Amazon.
Mr Barlow is currently based in Mexico and is head of political and economic section at the embassy, where he has worked on security issues concerning Syria and Iran and has overseen visits by the British Government and the royal family.
He will take up his new position in August, and his ideas include staging a Hay Festival of literature and art. Mr Barlow helped to take the event to Mexico, which opened a new market for British businesses.
He said: “Working in the diplomatic service has opened up so many opportunities, travelling, learning new languages. The work is so varied.
“I have met people I never thought I would, including Naomi Campbell in a restaurant in Brazil.”
He added: “I hope hearing about my work will inspire other people to apply. The work can be demanding and home can sometimes feel a very long way away, but I think it would be hard to beat this career.”
Mr Barlow’s children, Thomas, aged eight, and Isabella, aged seven, who live with their mum Sylvia in London, will be regular visitors to Argentina.
The youngsters have dual nationalities having been born in Brazil, and they speak English, Portuguese and Spanish.
Thomas said: “I would like him to be based in Canada because of the glacier.”
Isabella added: “I would like my dad to be based in France so I could see the Eiffel Tower.”
Mr Barlow’s mum added: “I am one very proud mother.
“People who went to the interview for the position included those who were older and some were already deputy ambassadors.”