NOT too many world leaders can count Leamington’s Old Town as their former home – but new President of Iceland Guðni Jóhannesson can do just that.
The former Warwick University history and politics student lived in Old Town in 1991 while he studied for his bachelor’s degree, and he told The Observer he one day hoped to return to the area.
The 48-year-old history teacher was recently elected Iceland’s new president – the first in 20 years and the youngest in the country’s history.
Speaking exclusively to The Observer, Mr Jóhannesson said: “I lived for one year in Leamington in a part of town where many other students lived. It was great fun living in Leamington and I have only good memories of studying at Warwick University.
“The three guys I lived with were all from Britain. We stayed in touch for a number of years after I graduated but then as happens we went our separate ways. After my election fortunately I regained contact with people I studied with.
“I only have fond memories of studying at Warwick and hope to visit sometime in the future.”
The dad-of-six won the election with 39 per cent of the vote and took office on August 1. He is not affiliated with any of the country’s political parties, and has said he will be a ‘less political’ president, as the leads the country which has recovered well after being hit by the global financial crisis in 2008.
Mr Jóhannesson has taken over from Olafur Grimsson who served five consecutive terms in the position since 1996.
It makes him the first new president in 20 years.
A spokesman from Warwick University said: “We are very proud of all our graduates and alumni achievements.
“We hope Guðni Jóhannesson has fond memories of his time at Warwick at that his experiences here contribute to a successful term as president of Iceland.”
The volcanic island nation may be a geologically young land, but it has a long history of democracy, and can boast the oldest existing parliament in the world – first assembled in 930 AD.
The country, also known as the land of fire and ice, recently shot up the list of Britain’s favourite destinations following an increase in cheaper flights from regional airports, including Birmingham.