New Meteorological Operations Building Officially Opened

HE Governor cutting the ribbon

HE Governor Dr Philip Rushbrook officially opened the new Meteorological (Met) Operations Building, Bottom Woods, on Tuesday, 7 December 2021, with a special ‘ribbon cutting’ ceremony.

In attendance were Chief Minister, Julie Thomas, Minister of Environment, Natural Resources & Planning Portfolio, Christine Scipio, a representative from the St Helena Girlguides Association, members of the Met team, and St Helena Government (SHG) Officials, including members of the Technical Services Team.

During the Ceremony, HE Governor delivered a speech and said:

“This Met Office Station has been located here since 1976 after moving from its old location at Hutt’s Gate. Throughout this time, it has steadfastly collected global climatic data from observations and the launches of balloons and fed the information back to the UK.

“In 2011, an MoU between SHG and the Met Office updated and redefined the role of this station. Importantly, this was re-signed in 2021 and I would like to draw out two features from the new MoU. First, it paved the way for funds to become available to construct this new building and second, it reaffirmed the long term commitment of the Met Office to St Helena for all being well the next 40 or more years.”

Environmental Risk Manager, Mike Durnford, (who line manages the Met Station) also delivered a speech [annexed] and acknowledged key people who significantly contributed to the new Meteorological Operations Building Project – HE Governor, SHG Technical Services Team, Ambledale Workshop Ltd, and Met Station Manager, Lori Bennett.

Governor Rushbrook then declared the Operations Building open with the cutting of the ribbon.

Following the Ceremony, invited guests were given a tour of the Meteorological Operations Building by Met Station Manager, Lori Bennett, and were shown the systems operated at the Station.

Invited guests then viewed the weather balloon being launched at 11.15am and Lori explained the process and the importance of how the weather balloon data filters into the global network of climate observations and plays a key part for climate studies whilst being beneficial to Aeronautical Forecasting provided at St Helena Airport.

Governor Rushbrook concluded:

“A special mention too goes to Marcos Henry, the Technical Manager at this Station. He has racked up continuous long service here since 1976. As a school leaver, he found his vocation at Bottom Woods. We recognise and pay tribute to his 45 years, and counting, of service. A remarkable achievement for him personally and the work of this Station.

“I want to also give special thanks and mention to Karen McCourt, a Manager in International Relations at the Met Office in the UK. She negotiated for the funds to build this new Station, project managed its completion from the UK end and agreed to donate the ‘Portakabin’, used for four years after the old building was demolished, to Girlguiding in their 100th year of service to our Island. Without her commitment, we would not be here today.”

#StHelena #MetOffice #AltogetherGreener


8 December 2021

Welcome address

Official opening of new Meteorological Operations Building

Whilst projects like this one usually involve many stakeholders: all of whom will have played a vital role to achieve a shared goal, they often consist of key people that make things happen and this project has been no exception.

I therefore wish to acknowledge the significant contribution by those key people that have brought us here today. Notably:

  • His Excellency for creating time on the 31 March 2021, in between official engagements, to sign the MoU, almost at the last hour on the deadline day, that secured the funding for this Project
  • Technical Services for their advice, guidance and technical instruction to achieve the building specification and design
  • Ambledale Workshop Ltd for the quality workmanship and their timely completion of the building to specification
  • Met Station staff who have continued to deliver their critically important work that contributes towards global climate change science, whilst operating out of a temporary building and then amidst a building site, with no complaint (not to me at least).
  • Lori Bennett, the Meteorological Station Manager, whom I entrusted the delivery of this Project within time, scope and budget as a personal development opportunity, despite him having no previous project management experience I am aware that Lori has learned a great deal about project management on this journey and thus this building is not only a testament to his ability as a leader and project manager, but also to the teamwork of those aforementioned, for which you should all be immensely proud and for which I thank you all.

Mike Durnford

Environmental Risk Manager

Environment, Natural Resources & Planning Portfolio

St Helena Government Communications Hub

Telephone: 22470