Meeting Barack Obama biggest event of Laura’s life

Laura Hemmati introduced Barack Obama. Picture: NYT
Laura Hemmati introduced Barack Obama. Picture: NYT
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WHEN meeting the most powerful man on the planet you could be forgiven for finding the experience daunting.

But one Edinburgh woman has told how a relaxed encounter with US President Barack Obama at a charged political event saw the politician josh with her about haggis – before he demonstrated his golf swing.

Former James Gillespie’s pupil Laura Hemmati introduced the leader of the free world to the stage ahead of a keynote speech in front of 2000 distinguished guests, including King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium, in Brussels last Wednesday.

EU civil servant Laura, 26, from Marchmont, spent five minutes casually chatting with the president before the event took place at the prestigious Bozar Cultural Centre.

She said: “It was the biggest moment of my life and one which I will remember forever.

“He was very funny and warm.

“We spent five minutes chatting before I went on stage. He asked about Scotland and whether I really liked haggis.

“He then said he was a big golf fan and began showing me his swing.

“It was incredible. He totally put me at ease.

“He was very laid back but then you could also tell that you were in the presence of someone who carries a great responsibility.”

Obama’s address was the only official speech he delivered on a four-day European tour.

He used it to pledge US security guarantees for east European allies on Russia’s borders who are alarmed at the Kremlin’s expansionist aims.

President Obama also made reference to Laura on three occasions and also her father, Farid, who was a member of the audience.

He said: “Thank you, Laura, for that remarkable introduction.

“Before she came out she told me not to be nervous.

“I think her father is in the audience, and I can only imagine how proud he is of her.

“We’re grateful for her work, but she’s also reminding us that our future will be defined by young people like her.”

Laura was offered the chance to introduce President Obama thanks to her volunteer work with Leadarise, a transatlantic movement, started by herself, that aims to encourage talented, ambitious women to view themselves as leaders.