Sympathy and a fascinating story of a gold key

I’m grateful to Valerie Cook from Upper Beeding in West Sussex for emailing me and expressing sympathy with my ‘tumbleweed moment’ as mentioned in the February 2024 newsletter. Valerie writes: ‘Over the years I’ve edited several club/society magazines and newsletters and have had many of those moments. I was always left with the same thought “Why am I doing this?” However, do keep up the good work, I’m sure there are many like me who enjoy the magazine even if, these days, those I remember are mostly consigned to the obituaries column!’

Valerie is the widow of Derek Cook (formerly from BP Accounts) who died in 2010. They were together in Libya for BP from 1962 to 1969 then Abu Dhabi from 1969 to 1974. Valerie writes: ‘I love reading of others’ memories of times past and recently remembered the official opening of the port of Marsa el Brega on the Gulf of Sidra, in northeastern Libya, in the early 1960s. The port was chosen as the terminal for Libya’s first oil pipeline, running from Zelten, 105 miles south.

‘Derek was involved in various administrative functions, one of which included the making of the key for the official opening. It was made from one kilo of pure gold by Asprey of London. It was magnificent piece, beautifully fashioned with Arabic script forming the head of the key. I often wonder what happened to it after the turmoil and aftermath of the overthrow of King Idris by Colonel Gaddafi in September 1969. Did BP manage to rescue it? Is it among historic artefacts somewhere? Possibly it was melted down amid the spoils of war, but if there’s anyone out there who remembers it, I’d love to hear about it.’

Like Valerie, your editor is keen to know what happened to the key of gold. If you know what happened to it or you were involved with it in some way, perhaps for the actual opening of the port, do please let us know. Our contact details are on page 2.

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