Top barrister to investigate sex abuse ‘cover up’ claims

An alleged conspiracy to cover up a report on child abuse on St Helena and Ascension Island is to be investigated by the barrister who prosecuted the TV entertainer Rolf Harris.

Sasha Wass QC is expected to travel to the South Atlantic territories once she has made initial inquiries.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said the investigation must protect victims but be “as transparent as possible”.

St Helena Government released only a three-page summary of the Lucy Faithfull Foundation’s 2013 report, claiming most of it could not be made public because of the need to protect victims.

Leaked extracts published by the St Helena Independent showed that much of the content did not present any such risk. Its coverage also showed that criticism of the police had been toned down to the point of misrepresentation.

By comparison, a similar report on organised abuse of teenage girls in Rotherham, in the UK, was published almost in its entirety – in the public interest.

Both reports made it clear that child abuse had been allowed to continue because police and officials were unwilling to acknowledge the issue. The Times exposed earlier efforts to cover up what was happening in Rotherham.

Several councillors on St Helena pressed for the Lucy Faithfull Report to be published in full once a first-draft had been posted on the internet.

Governor Mark Capes said it was “reprehensible” and “callous” for people to call for the full version to be made public – without acknowledging this could be done without identifying victims.

In a statement issued on 20 August 2014, he said:

The work of Police and Social Service Officers can be seriously damaged and undermined by breaches of trust and confidentiality, even more so in such a small community as ours. One might think this should be glaringly obvious to most people.

“To support publication of a confidential report about child protection, knowing that it would be likely to damage efforts to improve performance in that area and cause grief to victims and families that have had to deal with abuse, is reprehensible.”

He did not explain how full publication would damage work to deal with abuse. The leaked first draft of the report suggested that problems had become widespread because of a culture of silence.

The investigation will look into the conduct of the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development, as well as the island government.

In a Written Ministerial Statement, Philip Hammond said serious allegations had been made by former employees of “the authorities” on St Helena:

“These allegations involve claims relating to child abuse in the territory, police corruption and incompetence, and a conspiracy by the St Helena Government (SHG), the FCO and DFID to cover these up.

“We are bound to take such allegations extremely seriously. Former FCO Minister for Overseas Territories [Mark Simmonds] announced to the House of Commons on 21 July the establishment of an independent inquiry to establish the truth of these allegations and make recommendations as appropriate.

“I am pleased to inform the House that I have agreed that Ms. Sasha Wass QC should lead this inquiry. Ms Wass is a very accomplished barrister with substantial professional experience of dealing with these kinds of issues. I am confident that she will lead this inquiry with great rigour, fairness and sensitivity.

“Matters of child safety require discretion and confidentiality. The issues self-evidently involve vulnerable people, whose privacy must be protected and confidences respected. I am certain this inquiry will do that. But it is also important that this process is as transparent as possible.”

The barrister – who secured the conviction and imprisonment of the entertainer Rolf Harris on sex charges – will assemble a team of independent experts to help her. She is due to report by the UK summer of 2015.

Mr Hammond said: “Since allegations relating to child safety were first raised in late 2012, the British government has been swift to ensure that they were investigated appropriately.

“We commissioned the respected Lucy Faithfull Foundation to conduct an initial review, which was then followed by an investigation by Northumbria Police. The reports made important recommendations, which the authorities on St Helena are working to implement with support from the UK.

“A number of arrests and convictions for child sex offences have also occurred.

“More, however, needs to be done. This new inquiry will not be quick. But it will be thorough. And I am confident that the facts will be established.”

Read more: 
St Helena child abuse inquiry launched – BBC
Written Ministerial Statement on St Helena child abuse inquiry
(includes link to the Terms of Reference)

 

 

 

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Ascension case led to whistle-blower’s abuse claims

Police and social workers were unable to work together properly in the wake of findings about child abuse on St Helena and Ascension, a new document reveals.

It also tells how a number of officials were suspended after St Helena’s Chief Justice raised concerns about an adoption case on Ascension in March 2014.

The islands’ senior social work manager resigned and made the allegations of a cover-up of the Lucy Faithfull Report findings. They reached the ears of ministers at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).

The background to the affair is set out in the terms of reference for the inquiry to be conducted by Sasha Wass QC – published on 20 November 2014.

It says:

“In November 2012, the FCO received anonymous allegations in relation to St Helena and Ascension that sexual offenses against children were not being properly investigated or prosecuted and that the Saint Helena Police Service (SHPS) in particular was failing in its duty to children and vulnerable adults.

“A number of separate investigations were undertaken, including in response to further allegations. On the basis of recommendations made by the investigations, the St. Helena authorities responded with action plans to address the deficiencies identified.

“Relations between St Helena’s Social Services and the SHPS remained difficult however, leading to a breakdown in the professional relationship between the two organisations.

“In March 2014, St Helena’s Chief Justice expressed concern about the conduct of St Helena Government (SHG) officials during an adoption case in Ascension and recommended an independent barrister-led review into whether any wrong-doing had been committed.

“A number of officials were subsequently suspended pending a police investigation.

“In July, the FCO received a letter of resignation from the suspended senior social work manager alleging detriment for whistle-blowing.

“In a separate document prepared for an employment tribunal, the former employee made a substantial number of separate allegations relating to specific child safety incidents on St Helena and Ascension, the response of the local government authorities, and the role of the FCO and DFID.

“A separate but similar document from another former employee of Social Services echoed these allegations.

“In response, the then Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs agreed to establish an independent panel of experts to investigate these allegations and any related matters which the panel thought pertinent.”

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Hotelier Hazel, her dad, and thousands of dead crocodiles

The crocodiles of the Okavanga Delta learned the hard way that it didn’t do to get into Bobbie Wilmot’s line of fire. Some people on St Helena have learned the same about his daughter Hazel, the feisty owner of the Consulate Hotel in Jamestown.

She knows what she thinks is right and what she thinks is wrong, and she’s not afraid to tell people about it.

The consequences aren’t as severe as they were for those crocodiles, in the days before Mr Wilmot decided to become one Botswana’s leading conservationists.

He is reputed to have shot more of the giant reptiles than anyone before or since.

He remains a legendary figure in Botswana, decades after he was killed by one of the world’s deadliest snakes. And his one son and six daughters all inherited his robust approach to life, according to his grandson, Professor Harry Dugmore.

The story came to light when Harry travelled from Rhodes University in South Africa to speak at a conference on health journalism at Coventry University, in the UK.

The owner of St Helena Online was at the same conference, and got chatting to Harry over drinks on the opening night. The discussion got round to diabetes, which prompted mention of St Helena. Botswana also got thrown into the conversation somewhere.

After a few minutes, Harry mentioned that his aunt had moved to St Helena.

It could only be one person. “Is her name Hazel?”

It was. Harry may have been surprised at the chance of finding someone who could name his aunt just from knowing where she lived, in a bar several thousand miles from anywhere connected with either of them.

But he wasn’t surprised that she was well known on the island for speaking her mind.

Hazel has been the source of a number of stories that have found their way to St Helena Online. Some of them could even be published.

Harry was one of the opening speakers at the conference, setting out his university’s approach to teaching responsible health journalism in a country stricken by diabetes and obesity. He told of the courage of journalists who challenged the South African government to confront its appalling AIDS epidemic.

He also became the subject of one of the closing presentations, when delegates were told of the unexpected St Helena connection.

Colleagues were amazed – and delighted – by the story.

“Bobbie Wilmot really was a legend,” says Harry in an interview. “He was a crocodile hunter and hunted for the leather industry. His family subsequently – Hazel’s brother, Hazel herself, and other member of the family – got much more into conservation, with wonderful operations in Botswana. You can’t go to the Okavanga and not hear about the Wilmots.

“He did have it in for crocodiles. You hear all sorts of numbers: 145,000 is the number that I have heard, his lifetime tally. They are quite easy to hunt – you can go out and night and get 20, 30 or 40 of them. I’ve never done it so I’m vaguely remembering things my mother told me.

“[He had] seven children – six daughters – and all of them in their own way are quite amazing.

“I see a lot of them in my own two daughters – feisty, and concerned about things being fair and not tolerant of injustice. It’s a family trait.”

Bobbie died decades ago, bitten by a black mamba. Normally, victims succumb within minutes. But not Bobbie Wilmot.

“The story we got is that because he had been bitten before and got some anti snake venom, he didn’t die quickly. He was on a hunt and had to get back to his Land Rover in a canoe, and just didn’t manage to survive that second bite.”

Harry was also presented with a paper necklace made by a member of St Helena’s SHAPE charity. It was modelled on similar necklaces created by survivors of a bush tribe in the Okavanga Delta. Another of Bobbie’s daughters, Daphne, was given one of the necklaces at a tribal funeral, and sent it to Hazel to be passed on to SHAPE, to see if it could be reproduced. It became a popular craft product.

Some months after that encounter, the interview with Harry about the Wilmot family – and those necklaces – has finally been edited and sent out to the island. It is hoped it can be played on Saint FM Community Radio some time in the near future.

A copy will be posted online and linked from this website in due course.

SEE ALSO:
Story: How a gift from a lost tribe helped island jewellery take shape
Pictures: Island jewellery inspired by a lost tribe
Another ship, another mad day at The Consulate

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Eddie campaigns to honour man who saved the ebony

Filling an entire valley to make way for an airport can be done in a couple of years; paying tribute to a Saint’s bravery takes a little longer, it seems. But EDDIE DUFF is determined that Charlie Benjamin should have proper recognition for climbing a cliff to bring St Helena’s precious ebony back from apparent extinction. He’s launched a campaign, aiming to mark the site of that perilous climb down to the strange plant that had been spotted by his brother George and the botanist Quentin Cronk. Eddie takes up the story…

Charlie climbed down that cliff, and he came up with the ebony flower in his mouth. His two hands were gripping the rope, so he put the flower in his mouth and he came back up.

Georgie and Quentin have had the accolades, but poor Charlie, who risked his life to go down over the cliff, he hasn’t received anything.

We want to plaque there, to show where he climbed down. Georgie and Quentin saw the plant, but Charlie was the first to put his hand on it.

Even though Charlie is dead, we still have his wife, his daughter, his step daughters, and I know they would like to see something. I want local people, I want boys, I want girls, I want old men and young people to go there and actually see where he climbed.

You have to walk from the Distant Cottage Road, so it would be about a kilometre – a really nice walk. It is on one of the postbox walks. It can get a bit blowy because it is on the windward side of the island, but it is do-able.

We also want to make the ebony our national flower. Having the arum lily as the national flower doesn’t make sense to me because you can find it the world over. And it’s an invasive alien species.

We did a poll about it once before. About a thousand people took part, and 731 people voted for the ebony as our national flower even though the arum lily was there before us. They agreed that we need to be able to say, “This is St Helenian: this is special to St Helena.”

It was brought to council – not the current one – and the councillors decided the ebony couldn’t be the national flower. I can’t understand their thinking. We’re trying to promote tourism, and promote all that’s special about the island. The ebony is endemic and the arum lily is not – but they couldn’t get it.

Even now you still have people who have negative remarks, but the majority of St Helenians right now know that the ebony is our true national flower. And the majority of people would like to see Charlie Benjamin get something; some kind of accolade to say he did the climb.

When it came to me that nobody had done anything for Charlie or the ebony, I decided to go and ask the family if it would be all right to pursue this. They were quite happy, because they were very disappointed from the last time. So I began to investigate it.

What made it so easy was that Charlie’s step-daughter, Rosie Peters, was the one who was there with Charlie. She told me just about everything I needed to know, and I took it to council, and the majority were very happy to go along with it.

We went to the Attorney General, who said we didn’t need to do much: this was something we could adapt in council.

Just about everybody liked the idea I came up with, and how I wanted to proceed. Now we just need to make it happen.

  • Eddie’s proposals include marking the spot where George Benjamin spotted the unusual plant that turned out to be the “extinct” St Helena ebony, and the place where Charlie made his historic climb. Both would be named in honour of the brothers, and marked on future maps of the island – just as Holdfast Tom appears on the map to show where a soldier climbed a cliff when the English landed a force to reclaim the island from Dutch invaders (though there was no such tribute to Black Oliver, the slave to guided him: he was given land, but was later shot while taking part in a revolt).

 

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Lost Solomon’s deeds found after 160 years

indenture 640For years, it had been believed that the deeds of several historic houses on St Helena had been destroyed by fire. But then someone pulled out a drawer from a desk in Jamestown, and made a most surprising discovery.

Behind the drawer, lost to sight for decades, were papers documenting the sale of properties once owned by the island entrepreneur, Saul Solomon.

The desk was in the basement of the building taken over by the St Helena National Trust, the very organisation set up to preserve and protect the island’s historic riches.

Click the pic to see larger image

Click the pic to see larger image

Island historian Nick Thorpe said: “There are quite a few deeds, mostly relating to the Metcalfe family, who owned Willowbank and Robinsons in Fisher’s Valley, together with a house in town.

“The gem of the find is a deed relating to the sale of several town properties for £16,000. The seller was Saul Solomon, who established Solomon’s in 1790. The buyers were his son Nathaniel Solomon, baptised 1800, and George Moss.

“Many years ago an old man called Billy Peters told me that Solomons had a fire in their office which destroyed all their deeds, but not, according to Billy, their money.

conveyance side 640“If that is the case, then these deeds discovered recently by the National Trust may be the only 19th century ones in existence with a Solomon’s connection.”

The discovery was made in early October 2014.

One of the documents, an indenture, has a plan of a property attached with string and sealed with wax.

Another, dated around the time of Saul Solomon’s death, is a “Conveyance of messuages and tenements in James Town, St Helena”.

SEE ALSO:
The ‘merchant king’ suspected of intrigue with Napoleon
Saved: ‘national treasure’ is found on rubbish dump

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The ‘merchant king’ suspected of intrigue with Napoleon

Saul Solomon founded a business empire that has dominated commercial life on St Helena for more than two centuries. He was also suspected of smuggling a silk ladder to Napoleon, to help him escape from exile. Now documents relating to the sale of his properties have been found in Jamestown.

Saul Solomon. Click the pic to see the source

Saul Solomon. Click the pic to see the source

The long-lost title deeds of Saul Solomon’s properties on St Helena have added scraps of knowledge to the little that is known of “St Helena’s remarkable merchant king”, as the late historian Trevor Hearl described him.

His origins were mantled in mystery, wrote Hearl. “Where and when he was born, why and how he reached St Helena, no one yet knows.”

Tradition says he was born in London in about 1776, set sail for India in his teens, but was left on the island to recuperate from sickness – and stayed.

An internet article provides further insight, describing how Saul Solomon’s father, Nathaniel, had travelled to Holland and fallen in love with 14-year-old Phoebe de Mitz, who returned to England as his wife and bore him many children (possibly 21).

“In the early 1790s a ship bound for India dropped anchor off the Port of Jamestown on the island,” continues the internet article by an unnamed descendant of Saul Solomon’s brother, Joseph.

“A young man was carried ashore to die. The ship sailed on and the young man, Saul Solomon, remained, not to die, but to become one of the most influential men on the island.”

His business is said to have been founded in 1790 – the date shown on the company website. Young Saul set up a boarding house and general store, along with an insurance business. He also installed the island’s first printing press, and served as undertaker.

Phoebe, said to be Saul Solomon's mother. Click the pic to reveal the source

Phoebe, said to be Saul Solomon’s mother. Click the pic to reveal the source

Early success meant a need for people to help run the business, so he sent for his brothers, including Joseph. The Moss family came too, remaining prominent members of the business for many years.

And then Napoleon arrived on the island in 1815. Solomon’s readily traded with the deposed emperor’s entourage at Longwood, and profits rose.

There were frequent complaints about over-charging. The company charged 1,400 gold francs for the funeral of Napoleon’s valet.

Running up debts with suppliers in South Africa brought a rival to the island: Richard Prince arrived in Jamestown in 1813 to collect money owed, but stayed on and set up a business that competed against Solomon’s for 89 years. He left Prince’s Lodge as his legacy.

Saul Solomon also earned a reputation for “dubious loyalty” to the island government, said Hearl. “Hudson Lowe listed the Solomon brothers, with their clerk Bruce, as the chief suspects of aiding Napoleon…

“His premises… became notorious for gossip and intrigue.

“He was even said to have smuggled a silken ladder into Longwood in a chest of tea to help Napoleon clamber down a cliff into a waiting boat! Certainly Longwood’s clandestine correspondence passed through his hands – at a price.

“In 1840, as French Consul, he was among the favoured few to accompany Napoleon’s coffin aboard the Belle Poule.” According to the internet article, he received a medal for his services to the emperor.

At one time, Solomon’s issued its own copper halfpennies, which circulated alongside the East India Company coinage.

It continued to prosper as the island became a haven for American whalers and a base for the anti-slavery squadron.

Over time, family members rose to prominent roles, including on benevolent committees. “For 50 years they almost monopolised the prestigious post of Sheriff.”

The last of the family line, Homfray Welby Solomon (“King Sol”), died in 1960. The business was later nationalised – and then part-privatised.

Saul Solomon himself had died in 1852 on a visit to England. His daughter managed to get his body to the Cape, where she smuggled it aboard a ship bound for St Helena, according to a fellow passenger, Mrs Harriet Tytler.

“The burden was a terrible one for fear that if the sailors found it out, they would chuck her father overboard,” wrote Mrs Tytler. “Of course we were all under vow not to disclose the terrible fact of a corpse on board.”

The two island newspapers praised his memory fulsomely. “We have many living witnessed to his kindness to the distressed and suffering,” wrote the St Helena Herald, welcoming the news that he was to be buried on the island.

An executor’s sale took place “under the trees” in Jamestown in 1854, at which “a rare selection of most desirable dwelling places” were auctioned, including The Briars and The Pavilion, once home to Napoleon. Six properties in Jamestown’s Main Street could no longer be identified, wrote Trevor Hearl.

Saul Solomon’s modest gravestone was among those rescued when the burial ground in Jamestown was cleared, to become a children’s playground. The inscription revealed nothing of Solomon’s life, beyond the date of his death at 76.

  • Saul Solomon’s nephew, also called Saul, left St Helena as a young man and became the founder of the Cape Argus, one of South Africa’s major newspapers. His memorial is in St James’s Church, “though St Helenians do not yet claim him as a distinguished compatriot,” wrote Trevor Hearl.

SEE ALSO:
Lost Solomon’s deeds found after 150 years
The Solomon Family: St Helena

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No PE teacher? Appoint one of the pupils: first head recalls the challenges of creating ‘a school like no other’

JOHN BIRCHALL has proud memories of his time setting up “a school like no other anywhere else in the world” on St Helena. He shared a few of them in a special assembly to mark on the 25th anniversary of Prince Andrew School – in a video message from China.

Some of the teachers on St Helena were somewhat nervous about the idea of moving to the big new building that was going up on Francis Plain. But young Nick Stevens had little time to dwell on the prospect: a sudden staff shortage meant he was a pupil one day, and a teacher the next.

Click the pic to read about John Birchall

Click the pic to read about John Birchall

John Birchall shares both memories in an internet address that was played to current students and staff on 3 October 2014, a quarter of a century on.

“I arrived in early summer in 1986,” he says, “to be immediately involved in a ceremony on a wet grey day on an empty Francis Plain to lay the foundation stone for Prince Andrew School.

“I recollect touring the first and middle schools to try to reassure the teachers assigned to Prince Andrew School that working in a school of this size was not quite the daunting prospect they imagined it to be.

“I recall a young Nicky Stevens being catapulted from Year 11 student to PE teacher in the space of a day on the departure of a member of staff… and being even more surprised how he quickly grew into the role under the stewardship of your current headmaster.”

Nick Stevens in his Games kit

Nick Stevens in his Games kit

The new job was the start of a career that saw Nick go on to be the creative force behind the New Horizons youth centre in Jamestown, and eventually to head St Helena’s team at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Scotland.

He’s also been an occasional football pundit on the BBC World Service.

His mentor, Paul Starkie, was employed as an adviser from 1988 to 1992, sent out by the UK government. He went on to work in Indonesia and Belgium before returning to PAS as head teacher in 2012 – with his St Helenian wife, Lisa, and son Zac.

John Birchall has also gone a long way since leaving the school in 1989, having served as its first head teacher. He went on to work in Oman, Spain and Indonesia, before becoming academic director of a chain of colleges educating 6,000 students in China.

“The years I spent on St Helena were among the most challenging and the most rewarding I have experienced in my 42 years of education to date,” he says in an address he posted on the YouTube video-sharing website.

Paul Starkie returned as head

Paul Starkie returned as head

“When I lie at night and dream, I often find myself transported back in some way to find myself trudging up Ladder Hill, strolling Francis Plain or wandering around Longwood. Such is the lasting impact of St Helena,” he says.

In those days, some of the older pupils were paid to attend school in an arrangement with the Public Works Department.

“I recall paying wages to all the PWD students on a Friday, assisted by Miss Doris Peters and Miss Joy George,” says John.

“And I recall taking part in the community education classes, where I made what must have been the worst table every constructed on St Helena.

“My most lasting memory was leading the proceedings 25 years ago when we held the opening ceremony.

“I remember the enormous sense of pride which echoed round the hall as the entire school, resplendent in school uniform and Prince Andrew School ties, sang the Prince Andrew School song for the very first time under the musical direction of the late Mr Eric George.

Click the pic to watch John's video

Click the pic to watch John’s video

“I recollect to this day the true sense of community that prevailed, and the way in which students felt truly privileged to have such splendid surroundings to pursue their educational dreams.”

He tells pupils: “I hope this sense of Prince Andrew School being your school, and a feeling of pride in it being a school like no other anywhere else in the world, still prevails today as it did in 1989.”

He gives his congratulations for recent significant improvements in GCSE results.

John extends “a special personal thank-you” to Basil George, who was chief education officer at the time “and whose drive and vision contributed greatly to creation the school you enjoy today.”

He ends by urging the people of St Helena to “build upon the silver jubilee spirit to take Prince Andrew School to new levels in the years ahead.”

Governor Mark Capes and Basil George were among special guests who heard music pieces from the school choir and various pupils at the special assembly. It ended with student president Lizemarie Robbertse and vice student president Chrystabel Greentree speaking about the importance of striving for success.

Watch John Bircall’s address in full here

SEE ALSO:
New school head brings Saint family back home
Nick Stevens goes global from St Helena

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Barry and Merrill, the Umbrella-ella-ella fellas

umbrella barry francis merrill lawrence 640Click the pic to hear Barry Francis and Merrill Lawrence on guitars in a rather good rendition of the song, Umbrella. Nicely filmed by Vision Media, too.

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Welcome to St Helena Airport…

Airport newsletter number 51: click the link at the bottom of the story to read it

Airport newsletter number 51: click the link at the bottom of the story to read it

St Helena’s airport will officially be known as… St Helena Airport.

So says the 51st Airport Update, reporting the decision by executive councillors. “The name is strongly supported by the aviation industry and has instant recognition for passengers,” it says.

The newsletter also reports on open days at the end of September, at which about 1,600 people – a third of the island population – saw the completed work to fill in Dry Gut and create an extra 400 metres of level ground for the runway.

The structure of the building that will house services such as the air traffic control has also been completed.

And the update tells of Craig Yon’s success in earning a blasting qualification that gives him a key role in setting explosives. An examiner came from Namibia to assess him.

Click to read: Airport Update 51 (.pdf file).

  • There was talk of St Helena’s first and only airport being called St Helena International. But the last word of that name would have been rather superfluous. If it wasn’t not going to be an international airport, then where would the aeroplanes fly to – Francis Plain?
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Sailing for St Helena with a floorboard for a rudder

The yacht Benguela is the same type as a former Governor's Cup Yacht Race winner

The yacht Benguela is the same type as a former Governor’s Cup Yacht Race winner. Picture: 2 Oceans Maritime Academy

When the rudder failed on the yacht Benguela, its crew tried lashing a floorboard to a pole to take its place.

It worked, well enough to steer the 42-foot sail training vessel to within reach of rescue boats from St Helena.

Now the principal of the 2 Oceans Maritime Academy in Cape Town has thanked “all of St Helena” for the kindness shown to the yacht’s seven crew.

Sean Cumming said the Fast 42 vessel had just made its fourth visit to the island in a year and a half, on a voyage to enable student yachtsmen to notch up sea miles.

Its sister yacht, Diel, also visited in March 2014 on a training voyage from Cape Town to Rio and back via Tristan da Cunha.

Sean said: “Benguela suffered rudder failure in the early hours of Monday 29 September, due east of St Helena, while on the return leg to Cape Town.

“The skipper and crew attempted to repair the steering and drifted to a position north-east of the island.

“Around 0730 Universal Time they were able to set up a jury rudder using the spinnaker pole and a floorboard lashed to it.

“This allowed the vessel to make its way slowly towards the island under power until they were due north.

“I then made contact with Sean Burns of the Governor’s office, who was extremely helpful. He then contacted the relevant emergency personnel, who sent vessels out to assist, eventually towing Benguela back Jamestown.”

Trevor “Otto” Thomas, skipper of the fishing vessel MFV Extractor, agreed to accompany the island’s rescue vessel on the operation because of the distance and heavy seas anticipated.

“I would like to commend all involved in the assistance of Benguela,” said Sean Cumming. “You can imagine how stressful this has been for 2 Oceans, the parents of the crew, and family.

“We were updated on the progress through the office of the Governor and are extremely grateful to all who assisted.

“St Helena is a wonderful island to visit and we are so grateful that the rescue crew are so professional and friendly. The hospitality extended to the crew has been amazing. We will continue to visit the island as part of our yachtmaster programme.

“Thank you, all of St Helena.”

SEE ALSO:
Island crews hailed for ten-hour rescue operation
2 Ocean Maritime Academy
2 Ocean’s Fast 42 yachts

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