Mr Thornton said:
“This is a sad moment for me. It has been an honour and a privilege to serve in Zambia. The three and a half years that I have been here have been the best of my professional career.
“I have been present for some great moments in Zambia’s life. I had just arrived when Zambia won the 2012 AFCON. And I was here for the fiftieth anniversary of Independence.
“There have been important moments for the UK too. 2012 was also the year when the UK hosted the largest and most successful ever Olympic Games. And Her Majesty the Queen celebrated her Diamond Jubilee.
“During my time as High Commissioner the UK’s relations with Zambia have been further strengthened, including through three visits by members of the Royal Family. The commercial and prosperity work of the High Commission has been reinforced. The British Chamber of Commerce in Zambia has been set up. We have substantially increased the number of scholarships available to Zambians. And of course we have maintained our large co-operation programme.
“Zambia has enormous potential. In order to fulfil this, I hope that there can be a clearer long-term strategy for national growth; and a willingness on the part of individuals and the nation to invest for the future even if that means consuming a little less now.
“Zambia needs to remain a united country, and the many poor need to be able to benefit from economic growth.
“I have seen Zambia’s democratic tradition further reinforced through the expert conduct of the Presidential by-election this year by the ECZ. So long as there is appropriate protection of the freedoms of speech and assembly, the country will soon be able to claim to be one of the strongest democracies in Africa.
“Though I am leaving I will continue to take a close interest in Zambia’s development. I will always remember the amazing welcome that Zambians gave me and my family. A part of my heart will remain here forever.”
British High Commission, Lusaka
10 August 2015