25 December 2022
The Chief Minister, Julie Thomas has issued the following Christmas Message.
The festive season denotes a variety of events for different people. Here on St Helena, Christmas for many is dedicated as a time for love, celebration, fun and laughter with family and friends. For others, it may well be a time for reflection, reminiscing or a time of great sadness. Whatever the circumstances, what makes our festive season so special are the occasions that captures our community spirit and our ability to come together to create an exhilarating atmosphere.
This year, is extra special. It is evident that our island is buzzing, with family and friends returning along with a number of visitors visiting for the first time or returning to experience and savour Christmas on our beautiful island. Whatever your reasons for being here, welcome to St Helena and I sincerely hope that you will enjoy the time you spend with us.
Re-opening our borders in August of this year after two years of restrictive travel to prevent Covid-19 entering our island, was a daunting task. However, I will be forever grateful to our Health Team for working diligently in collaboration with the UK Health Security Agency (HSA) and the World Health Organisation, in providing us with much needed data and advice to best prepare us for this event. Four months on, and we are now “Living with Covid” after experiencing our first wave. This achievement is a testament to the advice and guidance given, which gave us the confidence to remove all quarantine restrictions and it is for this primary reason that I wish to thank you all. I acknowledge how sceptical many within our community were, but thankfully all the necessary measures were implemented, which resulted in St Helena having a relatively easy time, transitioning to ‘Living with Covid’. There are some meaningful lessons to be learnt from this accomplishment. The primary being that it is important that we do all we can to work together, if we are to achieve the best possible outcomes for the greater good of our island and our future. This is just one example of how powerful and effective teamwork can be.
In September of this year, I had the privilege of attending Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s State Funeral. What an extremely sad, yet awe-inspiring occasion it was. Down to the smallest of detail, it was apparent that a great deal of thought and precision went into planning this historical event. To bear witness to the UK community and beyond coming together to pay their respects to Her Majesty, and being given the opportunity to do so, will be forever etched in my memory. The sea of faces and floral contributions can only be described as extremely moving yet, sincere. To have the opportunity to represent St Helena at such a prestigious event, which attracted so much international attention remains somewhat difficult to put into words, but it is important that I share with you that St Helena was not forgotten. In actual fact it was very obvious that the Overseas Territories and the Commonwealth Countries were highly regarded by her late Majesty, by the seating arrangements at her funeral and the draping of our respective flags flanking the road way of the journey we all made on the way to St George’s Chapel. It was a sight to behold.
This month, as is done every December, the primary schools kick-started the festive season, by hosting their well-attended advent services. Once again, these events demonstrated what can be achieved when an event is undertaken with love, care and teamwork. Every student had the opportunity to participate and showcase their talent, and this opportunity was accepted with vigour and immense pride, which is yet another lesson to us all on how we receive opportunities.
My Christmas message this year, is a message of hope and aspiration that focuses on the need for teamwork, togetherness and seizing the opportunity. We here on St Helena possess the ingredients of a society that we can all be proud of. We are known to be kind, loving and caring. We are a welcoming nation, where community spirit is alive and well. Hence, I would encourage all of us to hone in on these attributes as we close 2022 and move into 2023, as it is qualities such as these that will enable us to achieve more as a community.
It is no secret that the world is in turmoil. We are bearing witness to relentless war in Ukraine, financial recession in most parts resulting in escalating costs of living the world over coupled with adverse weather patterns due to climate change. It is time that we are ask ourselves – “what can we do better, can we become less reliant on others, what can I do to help shape a better future?”
St Helena is a unique and special place to live, work and visit, but we must take ownership of our destination. I truly believe that this can be achieved if we work together and become a solution based or problem solving community. The innovative talent that we possess cannot be allowed to fade, if it is our desire to build a better and brighter St Helena for ourselves and our future generations. We must work together with the little we have to achieve the best possible results, as there is no guarantee that we will be recipients of additional financial aid when considering the current economic climate. We must be the drivers of change of our current circumstances and be the facilitators of our own destiny.
In closing, I take this opportunity to wish you all an enjoyable festive period amongst family and friends and a year ahead that is full of ambition, joy and happiness.
Remember – the holiday season is a perfect time to reflect on our blessings and seek out ways to make life better for those around us.
Merry Christmas everyone and a Happy and Healthy 2023!
25 December 2022