On Saturday 14 November 2015, a small ceremony (pictured)
was held at Ebony Point, near Blue Hill on St Helena, to rename the ledge from which Charlie Benjamin climbed down to collect cuttings of the endemic St Helena Ebony plant, Trochetiopsis ebenus (pictured) – rediscovered by George Benjamin and Quinton Cronk, on 11 November 1980. The ledge, now named as ‘Charlie’s Ebony Revival Ledge’, pays tribute to Charlie (George Benjamin’s brother) for his role in rescuing the endemic Ebony.
Charlie’s stepdaughter, Rosie Peters, and her family were present and planted Ebonies on behalf of Charlie’s daughter Wendy, who was married at Kew Gardens, London, on the same day. Father Dale Bowers gave his Blessing and all who spoke highlighted Charlie’s role in conservation and the importance of the rediscovery and subsequent propagation of the endemic Ebony.
Deputy Director of Environment & Natural Resources, Derek Henry, said:
“This ceremony was held to recognise Charlie’s role in the rediscovery of the Ebony and its rescue from potential extinction. Bearing in mind that this was 35 years ago, Charlie did not have access to proper rock climbing equipment and training and the cliff he climbed down is extremely perilous.”
The new name for the ledge, Charlie’s Ebony Revival Ledge, came about as a result of a competition between Island schools, which saw Year 2 at Pilling Primary School coming up with the winning name.
Councillor Gavin Ellick added:
“Charlie carried out a vital role in the rescue of the endemic Ebony and its subsequent conservation. His effort and contribution symbolises the very nature of conservation and highlights its importance, not only to the Island but also on the international stage.
“Charlie’s contribution has helped to raise awareness of conservation and its importance to the Island. The rediscovery of this plant has been a driver and an inspiration for conservation efforts that have occurred over the last 35 years on St Helena.”
All propagated Ebonies growing on the Island today can trace their descent back to the two plants that Charlie collected material from. Those cuttings were successfully rooted and as a result, thousands of Ebonies are now growing on the Island.
17 November 2015