I am pleased to announce the award of an MBE to Mr George Frederick Thomas JP, in recognition of his services to the judicial sector on Ascension Island.
George, affectionately known as ‘Dover’, has served the community of Ascension Island as a Magistrate since July 1988. George has made a positive contribution to the governance of Ascension Island during that 25-year period. Delivering justice in such a small community requires a high degree of responsibility and civic-mindedness that George has demonstrated throughout the time he has served as a Magistrate, which has been on a purely voluntary basis.
I am further pleased to announce the award of a BEM to Stedson Graham Francis for his contribution to the community of St Helena. Stedson was a voluntary producer for Radio St Helena for some 43 years until its closure in December 2012, providing much welcome entertainment to the community. Stedson has also served as Chairman of the Blue Hill Community Centre Association for 25 years, one of the few community centres which have continued to function continuously during that period of time. Stedson’s contribution to the community has also included taking on various roles in a number of associations concerned with farming activities since 1984, such as the Beekeepers’ Association, Farmers’ Association, St Helena Growers Cooperative Society and the Man & Horse and Blue Hill Cattle Syndicates. Stedson also served as a Member of the St Helena Legislative Council for a period of 12 years from 2001- 2013, during which time he served on Executive Council for four years.
I am sure you will join me in congratulating both George and Stedson on these well deserved recognitions.
‘Air Access to St Helena – One of the World’s Most Remote Populated Islands’
St Helena Government (SHG) is pleased to announce today the commencement of the official process to procure an air service provider to the Island of St Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean.
SHG is seeking to award a contract to a suitably qualified organisation to provide air services to the Island, on a contract period of up to five years.
The requirement is for a minimum weekly flight to a recognised international hub airport operating throughout the year. Services will commence when St Helena’s Airport opens in February 2016.
Potential air service providers are invited to visit the official SHG website http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/air-access/ or the Fly to St Helena website www.flytosthelena.com to find out more about this opportunity by viewing and downloading the Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) and Information Memorandum (IM) relating to the contract.
The PQQ is the first stage of the air service procurement process. The closing date for responses to the PQQ is 12 noon GMT on Thursday, 17 July 2014.
SHG expects to award the final contract for an air service provider in February or March 2015.
Note to Editors
The Pre-Qualification Questionnaire represents the initial stage of agreeing contractual terms for the supply of air services to St Helena. The questionnaire will allow SHG to obtain sufficient information from potential organisations interested in supplying these air services, and to make an assessment of their suitability to be invited to continue in the tendering process. Only organisations that are successful at this stage will be invited to participate in the next stage of the procurement process.
Over the past year, St Paul’s Primary School has operated its own Swimming Club at the Jamestown Pool on Friday afternoons from 3:30 to 4:30. Children have grown in speed and stamina and many children who were once strugglers are now becoming competent swimmers, with their technique improving constantly. The PTA has invested money into the swimming club, with floats and swim caps bought.
For their sponsored swim on 30 May, children were tasked to swim a set number of lengths within a particular time. The older Key Stage 2 children swam 20 lengths in under an hour, whereas the lower school swam 10 lengths in 40 minutes. Twenty six children showed how much fitter they have become over the year by completing the lengths in under the time provided. They did their school proud by completing the lengths with what the instructors described as ‘Style, Speed and Stamina’. The money raised by the 26 swim club members – over £400 – will be put back into the PTA fund and be used to buy future sports equipment.
The prize for the most money raised and most sponsors collected went to Jordana Peters. Other children who received prizes for most effort were Brooke Yon, Lara Lawrence, Kiera Joshua, Taylor Bennett, Annika Lawrence and Jerome Peters. Certificates were presented to the children by Mr Johnny Dillon, who also donated two new stopwatches to St Paul’s Swim Club.
St Paul’s Primary would like to thank Mr Colin Williams who transports the children to the pool, to Mr Johnny Dillon who gave two lanes especially for the swimming club during swim sessions, for the support and cooperation of the swim instructors and most importantly for the help of parents and guardians who collect children from the pool. Without your support and help, the Swim Club would not be the success which it has become.
Arriving on the Island on Wednesday 28 May 2014 was new Senior Social Worker, Samantha Dunn.
Samantha’s main focus, whilst on Island for a two year period, will be to improve the current system for safeguarding children, promoting their welfare and wellbeing. She will work closely with the Police and Education directorate on identifying potential cases and carrying out assessments with families – improving the families’ situation and the situation for the children within them.
Samantha hopes that by working closely with the Police, plans can be devised both to protect the community and also to protect those being released from custody. Samantha also understands that one area of work will be to place emphasis on children being exposed to close family members who are being sentenced and how these circumstances ultimately affect the whole family unit.
“The biggest challenge will be putting forward a strong and workable framework for the protection of children on the Island, but this is a positive challenge as improvements need to be made and we need to act.”
In Samantha’s role as Senior Social worker she will work with all vulnerable groups – for example, these could be younger mums who might want support and guidance. Bringing relevant services together to improve outcomes for children – but doing so in partnership with families needing support – will be central to Samantha’s role.
Samantha’s background is in working with children and young families in the south of England, looking at need and risk.
A new resident representative from the Department for International Development (DfID), Morgan Riley (photo attached), will be arriving to the Island on Tuesday 17 June 2014. Morgan succeeds previous resident representative Eddie Palmer and will be on Island for the next two years working closely with SHG to support the Island’s preparations for the opening of the Airport.
“I am delighted to have the opportunity to work on the Island. I visited St Helena many years ago when the Airport was just an aspiration. I understand that thanks to a huge team effort the Airport project and all the preparations for its opening are progressing well and I am very much looking forward to working with all stakeholders during such an important chapter in the Island’s long and distinguished history.”
Prior to his appointment, Morgan has worked at HM Treasury on economic development in the Middle East and North Africa and on international finance. Previously, he has worked in the private sector on development programmes for remote communities.
The public are reminded that while construction works are ongoing at the Wharf, the area will be open to pedestrians only between the hours of 16.00 & 08.30 Monday to Friday and from 16.00 Friday to 08.30 Monday – ie, open evenings and weekends only. There will be restricted access to vehicles, and a barrier will be in place.
Authorised users only will be able to drop off/pick up equipment (e.g. diving equipment, fishing tackle etc) at the lower steps – before returning their vehicle to the area beyond the barrier. No vehicle at any time can be left parked on the Wharf between the construction site and the landing steps – this area needs to be kept clear in the event of an emergency.
Port management would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their continued co-operation.
The recent RSPB wildlife stocktake of the Overseas Territories – the first ever undertaken – has placed the spotlight on St Helena as the jewel in the crown, holding an astonishing 30% of all endemic species on British territory (species found nowhere else on earth). In fact, of all the OTs, this tiny 47 square miles far and away tops the league, with Bermuda coming a distant second.
In January 2014, the UK Environmental Audit Committee urged ‘enhanced monitoring’ and called on the UK Government to co-ordinate a comprehensive research programme with all stakeholders. With funding from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the RSPB has now started this work by completing the first ever stocktake of species across the UK’s island OTs. This brought together all known records from the last 300 years to finally reveal what species are known to be present. Given limited resources, it is crucial that OT biodiversity knowledge is strengthened so that financial and policy support can be targeted to where it is most urgently needed. The report (RSPB OTs Wildlife Stocktake Report, May 2014) can be seen on the RSPB website at: www.rspb.org.uk
The protection of St Helena’s environment, a mid Atlantic life-raft of rare and irreplaceable species, plus concerns regarding public health and agriculture, underpin the need for the development of St Helena’s border protection policy – what we call Biosecurity. Increased travel into St Helena will present fresh challenges that we must be prepared to meet, in order to secure one of the Island’s greatest assets for future generations.
Prime Minister David Cameron has said of the OTs: ‘We see an important opportunity to set world standards in our stewardship of the extraordinary natural environments we have inherited’.
Jeremy Harris, Director of the Saint Helena National Trust, commented:
“Over as much as 14 million years, St Helena has developed a totally unique biosphere of incredible diversity protected by thousands of miles of ocean. Five hundred years ago, it was discovered by people who brought goats and rats and other species that had a huge impact on its fragile environment.
“What remains today is still clearly remarkable and unique and of international significance. St Helena, now more than ever, needs our protection and care as the Airport approaches, bringing with it new risks and challenges.”
Why is St Helena Special?
The RSPB’s report reveals St Helena’s special importance, and supports the UK Government’s stance of protecting unique biospheres in the OTs. It finds that:
94% of British endemic species lie within its OTs
Of the 1,547 species, St Helena holds the most at over 500, and rising
This is 180 more than the next highest, Bermuda
This means that the 47 sq miles of St Helena hold roughly 30% of all endemic species to be found on British territory
As an example of St Helena’s astonishing diversity, the Island has roughly 7 times more endemic terrestrial invertebrates than the Galapagos Islands if calculated by land area.
Ben Sansom, Head of the Environmental Management Directorate, added:
“This is a landmark report for the Overseas Territories and highlights how important it is for all of us on St Helena to protect, restore and maintain the Island’s very special ecosystem. The report was a collaborative effort between the RSPB and the Overseas Territories and I’d like to thank everyone on St Helena who contributed to it.”
Senior Veterinary Officer, Joe Hollins, concluded:
“As we move towards the opening of the Airport, the eventual aspiration of up to 600 visiting tourists a week and the loss of the ‘quarantine effect’ of a five-day passage by ship, biosecurity on St Helena is necessarily being tightened. Our biosecurity framework has already gone out to public consultation and been passed for progression, and we will now move ahead to close any loopholes and establish any necessary legislation.
“We already have laws in place for live animals and related genetic materials, and for fruit, vegetables, plants and related products. And the Bees Ordinance protects our disease-free bees and honey. But remaining loopholes to be closed include certain meat, dairy and fish imports.”
Notes for Editors
The Importance of Biosecurity on St Helena
Biosecurity is a system of preborder, border and post border controls set up to protect sensitive ecosystems from pests and diseases that pose a threat to the environment, agriculture and public health.
Countries that are in close proximity to, or are part of, the world’s continental masses have been exposed to such threats for centuries, added to which they generally have long, leaky land and coastal borders which are difficult to defend. It is also true that in recent times the spread of pests and diseases has risen alarmingly, with the increased movement of people, cargo, animals and animal products – both legal and illegal.
St Helena, as a small and isolated island, has yet to be so exposed. And it also boasts one of the best possible natural and defendable borders – over a thousand miles of sea with bottleneck points of entry. But this border is only as good as the nation’s biosecurity controls. The coming of the Airport, and eventual projected tourist numbers, represent a major biosecurity challenge.
The current policy on St Helena is (and has been for some time) for Customs staff at the Wharf to scan all incoming baggage and check all imported cargo.
Nearly all island nations carry out some degree of inbound scanning including, for example, New Zealand, Pacific Islands such as Samoa and Fiji, and the Galapagos – all of which operate complete inbound scanning.
A variety of pictures of St Helena endemic species are attached to this release.
The Department for International Development’s (DFID) Infrastructure Adviser, John Bowker, previously visited the St Helena in November 2013. He returned last week for an advisory visit, to finalise the infrastructure business cases and agree a three-year infrastructure plan for SHG going forward to 2017.
John has spent his time on the Island (28 May-5 June) with a busy programme, including meetings with SHG officials, Legislative Councillors and non-government organisations. He has had numerous site visits, including to the landfill site, renewable energy sites, water treatment plants, Lemmon Valley and social healthcare projects. Additionally, meetings have been held to discuss Airport related infrastructure, future maintenance plans and development plans for tourism.
“There has been much progress in the last six months. These can be seen not only in physical infrastructure such as social healthcare, but also in the St Helena Government’s internal procedures and even in the recruitment of staff from the UK. It has been good to see so many capable and enthusiastic people working towards a common goal for the future of St Helena”.
“The Hospital when I last visited was in a poor state of repair, but since then I have seen many improvements, such as refurbished bathrooms, replacement windows and the rationalisation of equipment. The much needed project to refurbish the operating theatre and diagnostic suite is also due to start soon”.
John also visited the new Challenging Behaviour Unit (CBU) site in Half Tree Hollow and is pleased with the progress being made. He commented:
“The existing CBU does not provide adequate conditions for those that live there. The new site, which is purpose built, is in a great location with a terrific sea view, better living conditions and sufficient space for the occupants to be properly cared for”.
John also said that St Helena can expect improvements in water testing, treatment and supply to all areas. Sewage treatment plants will also be introduced in the next two years. Many other projects in preparation for the Airport opening will also be carried out, including the development of Rupert’s Wharf and improvements to Field Road and Side Path.
John will produce a report summarising his visit and an action plan with recommendations for St Helena Government. The long term focus is also to shift from immediate and reactive capital projects to more emphasis on maintenance of assets to ensure longevity.
Recently arriving to the Island was Samantha Cherrett, Environment and Natural Resources’ (ENRD) new Environmental Data and GIS Manager (Geographical Information Systems), here for 18 months.
Samantha began work on Thursday 29 May 2014, and immediately went out on the boat to begin work on the Marine Mapping project. Samantha’s role will be to collect marine data, analyse it and present it in a more visual way.
“Instead of seeing spreadsheet after spreadsheet, it is a lot easier to understand if the data is translated to a visual representation. This can be done for data collected in the past, now and in the future.”
Samantha will be working alongside the current GIS section within ENRD – which mainly focuses on mapping data for the infrastructure needs of the Island. Samantha’s key focus is marine data collection and analysis, utilising the expertise of the Marine Section, particularly on the significance of collected data.
Looking ahead, Samantha hopes to turn raw information into something useful, so anyone from within St Helena Government or members of the public can pick up an environmental GIS map and understand it. After the Marine Mapping project, the Environmental Data and GIS Manager will transfer her skills to wider environmental data collection on the Island, assessing soil quality and the geographical distribution of species such as insects.
Samantha has a Geological Degree, and experience of working with her local council. More recently, she worked with a consultant engineering company, carrying out GIS environmental impact assessments.
Before arriving to St Helena, Samantha underwent training on the mapping software used on the Island.