In a very successful innovation to guest speakers invited to address our periodic luncheons, BRA Romandie-West Members gathered at the Everness hotel, Commugny, to hear ‘one of our own’ – Michael Type – recount the first 92 years of his warm, colourful and successful life.
Born in London in 1932, Michael’s family lived in Surrey where he spent his childhood. His father and grandfather were professional engineers, a technical heritage that no doubt contributed to his later fascination with radio and television.
Michael graduated at the University of Manchester with a degree in economics and politics, upon which he had to undertake the then required military service. After completing his officer training, he was commissioned in military intelligence, which took him on an extensive tour of the Middle East (Aden, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Libya) as well as Cyprus where he became actively involved in operations against the terrorist organisation, EOKA, which was demanding union of the country with Greece.
On completing National Service in 1955, Michael joined the BBC Radio News and Current Affairs Department as a trainee Sub Editor. TV training and experience followed later after which he returned to Cyprus to participate in expanding the newsroom of the Cyprus Broadcasting Service and then setting up TV as part of a team.
These were of course the nascent days of TV in many countries and Michael had us laughing as he described some of the earlier equipment with which he had to work.
Whilst in Cyprus, Michael covered many of the Middle East crises for the station and the BBC. As a war correspondent, he made the first worldwide broadcast eye-witness report of the Suez Invasion in 1956.
Michael returned to Independent TV News in the UK as an Editor and then moved to Kenya in 1959 to help set up the Radio News Department of the newly created Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC). He was then appointed Head of KBC TV to oversee construction of a state-of-the-art TV Centre in Nairobi and to get the station on air. He also advised as part of a team the setting up of television in Aden, Ethiopia, Mauritius and the Sudan.
After Kenya’s independence, Michael entered the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London where he served on the South Asia Desk before being posted to Pakistan as First Secretary in the British High Commission. He returned to broadcasting in 1969 as Head of Secretariat of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and continued in retirement as a consultant to the Council of Europe Audiovisual Observatory, Council member of the International Academy of Broadcasting, and President of World Radio Geneva (now Switzerland) Community Association.
During all these endeavours, Michael underlined the contribution to his “second life”, which has brought him so much joy – that of his wife Pammi, and his two children and four grandchildren who live in Denmark and the USA.
But we also all had in mind Michael’s “third life” – his extraordinary contribution over the past 25 years to British and Commonwealth causes and values, as represented by the innumerable “like-minded” clubs and associations in Switzerland.
In addition to formal positions such as Chairman of the Royal British Legion Swiss Branch and Chairman of the British Residents’ Association, he has invariably lent a helping hand to various charitable organisations by organising concerts, including the remarkable Queen’s Jubilee Concert at Geneva’s Victoria Hall.
For all this, Michael, we are very grateful.