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St Helena football team

Team effort to get a St Helena Football team to 2021 Inter-Island Games

Its less than a year away and the St Helena Football Association is planning to enter a St Helena football team into the NatWest International Island Games which are scheduled held in Guernsey next July (2021). To facilitate getting a team to the games, the Association needs to raise sufficient funding to enable the team to participate.

Last year the Association successfully raised £70,000 for the St Helena International Football Team to attend the Inter-Island Games Tournament in Ynys Mon, Wales. Despite the results not going in favor of the team, it was a great leap forward for the development of football on St Helena and also provided the incentive for youngsters on St Helena as more junior age children are now expressing an interest in junior football.

When asked what was the biggest challenge to get the team to games Nick Stevens from the St Helena Association said “it was the cost of flights to and from the Island as well as the accommodation cost remembering that the team needs to depart a week prior to the games and also they have to travel back a week after the event to meet the weekly flight schedules but also factoring in any delays in the process”.

St Helena football team
St Helena’s football team departing for the Inter Island games in North Wales

Planning is in progress to raise funds with several events scheduled on Island over the coming months. A Port to Port event is planned for the 31 August which is a sponsored walk from the St Helena Airport to Rupert’s Bay. This is a 14 km walk that is open to everyone. A 12-hour musical Extravaganza is also planned for the Friday 28th August at the Seafront in Jamestown.    There is also a raffle coming soon with the first prize been a brand new Sym Scooter.

The St Helena Association is keen to hear from anyone that has any great ideas to share that will help raise funds to help to get the team to the games again next year which not only contributes and improves Island football as a sport on the island but also exposes the visibility of St Helena as an Island on a stage that captures many football fans imagination and in the global media.

You might ask how can I help towards getting the St Helena team to the games?  You can donate here at the St Helena Football Association Go Fund Me page or at the very least please share this post with others via your social media platforms, so together we can help the organizers and St Helena achieve another goal in these testing times.

Depths of emotion: divers say a damp goodbye to the RMS (and they took their own ‘prop’ for the picture)

It seemed there was no part of the RMS St Helena that went celebrated during the ship’s final visit home. Not even the propellers. A few members of St Helena Dive Club slipped below the surface and gave them one last “inspection” before the ship’s last scheduled departure. Having checked, of course, that the blades would not suddenly start turning while they were down there. It was, said club secretary Sam Cherrett, “pretty damn cool.”

Click to see a larger image
Click to see a larger image

Captain Adam Williams allowed the club a two-hour slot between ship operations on the afternoon of Thursday 8 February 2018, in recognition of past services. Sam said: “Some of the dive club members have been involved in prop inspections over the years, and this was a final ‘thank you and goodbye RMS’ before she left here.” A guide rope was attached to one of the blades for safety. “We had a few nervous people – some novices – and 60 metres of water below, plus a bit of current,” said Sam. “We had some shoals of fish come in occasionally too.” A large St Helena flag was unfurled underwater for photographs, and then it was back to the surface.”We were very privileged,” said Sam.

See also: 
A true St Helenian farewell’: RMS St Helena departs on final voyage from her home island

Pioneer runners get St Helena on the move

On The Move run 01 2500

The things people will do to get a free T-shirt – like run 15 or more kilometres around Jamestown, for instance (not all at once). Or maybe they were running because actually, it’s healthy and quite fun and afterwards, you feel somehow better.

Thirty eight people lined up on the wharf, all smiling for the camera, at the start of the first of a series of three-kilometre runs under the banner, St Helena On The Move.

On The Move poster 400A little over half an hour later – 31 minutes and 46 seconds, to be exact – the last of them crossed the line. The fastest was back in a mere 14:25, as timed by the team from New Horizons.

Anyone completing at least five of the initial seven runs gets the free shirt, as a badge of honour.

The weekly runs, scheduled for seven Thursday afternoons from 12 January 2016, have been initiated by Dr Niall O’Keeffe, head of Enterprise St Helena, who brought the idea from his home in Ireland.

“I’ve been participating in and when possible helping to organise events like this for over 30 years,” he said.

“My home village of Ballycotton in Ireland is known by runners around the world for its events. We have regular 3km, 5km, 5-mile series and a 10-mile race in March capped at 3,300 entrants. I was also a member of East Cork AC and we had 3km winter series since the late 80s.

“The events have a very positive impact in the local community for participants, organiser, and supporters. The 10-mile event in March in particular draws competitors from around the world and has a significant tourism benefits.

“St Helena does have a running festival and I’d like to see more people having the confidence to participate by building up distance and frequency of running and walking.

“There are many people already walking and running the roads in St Helena on their own so it’s nice sometimes to participate with others.”

Enterprise St Helena is associated with economic development but Niall said the agency can also take a wider, “holistic” approach to helping people embark on new lives.

“At this time of the year many people’s thoughts turn to resolutions relating to health, career, education, business start-ups etc. ESH can provide support in most of these areas.”

He also said that St Helena On The Move could touch on all three of the National Goals – including strong community and family life.

  • The island runs bear some similarity with the parkrun movement that started in a park in London and has spread to 11 countries worldwide, with well over a million people signed up (including the owner of St Helena Online – 88 runs and counting). The parkrun phenomenon sees people of all abilities turn up in parks on Saturday mornings to take part in free, 5km runs. To get a free shirt, though, adults have to complete 50 runs (children get one after 10). A 92-year-old man in Australia has earned his 100-run shirt and features in an inspirational film, here. Councillor Gavin Ellick made a fact-finding visit to Leamington parkrun in the UK, and there has been talk of trying to establish a parkrun on St Helena.



Black Cat gets lucky at last in surprise yacht race win

Black Cat sets out in high winds. Picture by Trevor Wilkins Photography. Click the pic for more images
Black Cat sets out in high winds. Picture by Trevor Wilkins Photography. Click the pic for more images

For the triumphant crew of Black Cat, the Governor’s Cup Yacht Race has provided proof of the unpredictable nature of their sport. They have been named overall winners of the 2015 race, in a boat that finished near the back of the fleet two years earlier – despite sailing faster than the leaders.

The crew of Black Cat before the race. Picture by Trevor Wilkins Photography
The crew of Black Cat before the race. Picture by Trevor Wilkins Photography

The win came as a massive surprise to skipper Dave Immelman. A rival crew in the racing class had actually reached St Helena a few hours ahead of him, but they declared that they had used their engine for 95 miles of the race and switched to the cruising class – leaving Black Cat in the top slot.

Fickle fortunes also saw the 2013 winner Banjo set a new speed record in the race from South Africa, while other yachts were becalmed by a lack of wind that meant some might not even reach the island before the deadline for late finishers – extended by three days to Tuesday 13 January.

Banjo covered the 1,750 miles from Simon’s Town in nine days 13 hours and 36 seconds, shaving five hours off the record set by a different crew in the same yacht in 2010.

Banjo set a new speed record for the Governor's Cup race. Picture by Trevor Wilkins Photography
Banjo set a new speed record for the Governor’s Cup race. Picture by Trevor Wilkins Photography

The voyage was by no means straightforward for the crew of Black Cat, which was battered by high winds in the early part of the race. On their race blog, they wrote:

“To our horror the beating had damaged an already old (now 20 years) water tank and our fresh water became bilge water. Not to worry, on with the water maker and all is great.

“Our next little hurdle was a small hole in the main sail. This led to a venture up the mast and some fantastic views of the boat and Atlantic. Hole fixed without a hitch and full speed ahead.”

On arrival at St Helena Yacht Club, skipper Dave said: “We are absolutely delighted. It was such a surprise and we are over the moon. The owner, Adrian Pearson, is ecstatic because it is his first win ever in this boat.

Black Cat digs in. Picture by Trevor Wilkins Photography
Black Cat digs in. Picture by Trevor Wilkins Photography

“He spent a lot of money bringing the boat up to scratch last year and he has now realized spending the money has really paid off.

“Also we started the race in 2012 but had to retire with gear failure, so to actually finish and win overall is a dream come true.”

Dave was also skipper of Black Cat in the previous race, when he had to make for the Namibian port of Luderitz with near-complete electrical failure.

They picked up new parts and resumed their voyage, actually picking up better winds and sailing faster than the race leaders.

Read more reports on the Governor’s Cup website and Facebook page.

Big waves: the Governor’s Cup race gets under way

Seventeen yachts battled huge waves at the start of the 2014/15 Governor’s Cup yacht race between South Africa and St Helena on 27 December 2014.

The trimaran Banjo – first across the finish line two years ago – was leading the fleet as the yachts left Simons Town behind and headed for Cape Point.

Banjo’s crew had only light winds to carry them towards St Helena in 2012; this time, they were setting out in a strong 25-knot south easterly that tested the mettle of all the competitors.

The Governor’s Cup race has been staged every two years since 1996. The 2014/15 will be the last that allows supporters to follow the fleet out to the island aboard the RMS St Helena – and for crews and yachts to be transported home on the ship. The ship is set to be retired soon after the island’s first airport opens in 2016.

Read the report of the start on the event website, here

Governor’s Cup stories (2012/13)
Governor’s Cup pictures (2012/13)

Alonzo walks it to win mountain bike challenge

Alonzo Henry has won St Helena’s first ever mountain bike competition after snatching the lead on a challenging section of the course.

He and Rémi Bruneton were the first pair away from the start at Millennium Forest, with the Frenchman setting a fast pace over the five-mile route to Cox’s Battery and back.

St Helena Wirebird reports that Rick Walters, Ross Leo and Michael Davis, starting slightly later, were hot on the leaders’ heels.

Click to watch Andy Day’s videoScreen Shot 2014-09-25 at 23.49.42

“At the bottom of the valley there is a dangerous drop zone so all riders were advised to get off their bikes and walk this area,” says the Wirebird report. “It was here that Alonzo Henry took advantage and got into lead position and continued to hold his position to the finish line at the Millennium Forest.”

He finished in a time of 27.01 minutes, with a clear 48-second lead over Rémi. Ross Leo finished third in 28.10.

Sixteen riders in all took part, all finishing in well under an hour. The remaining 13 were: Rick Walters, Nigel McMichael, Lizemarie Robbertse, John Woolacot, Michael David, Hannah Lowe, Louis Allen Youde, Deon Robbertse, Michael Moors, Derrick Alexander, Dennis Leo and Steven Theron.

Riders were briefed by Merrill Joshua, the island’s tourism projects manager and an adventure sports enthusiast.

The National Trust ran a cafe, SanRay’s sold food and soft drinks, and Leroy Fowler dispensed pop corn and candy floss. Various family activities were run by Creative St Helena and the National Trust. A children’s cycling trail was set up through the Millennium Forest.

Alonzo’s prize was a trophy and a GoPro camera – popular for filming adventure activities. To see what they can do, have a look at these films by island cameraman Julian Beard:

Swimming with whale sharks
St Helena motorcyle ride
More Julian Beard videos

Pictures bring back the holiday fun

children's medals 2 640The summer holidays have come to an end for UK school children but one last gallery of images should bring back happy memories of the 2014 Reading Sports. Click here to flick through 68 pictures – cheerful and cheeky – of the children’s medal presentations.

children's medals 640 3SEE ALSO:
Gallery 1: Fancy Dress
Gallery 2: Seen at the Sports
Gallery 3: Children’s races
Gallery 4: Teen races
Gallery 5: Adult races
Gallery 6: Inflatable fun

Plus: Donald whizzes from Oz for ‘brilliant’ Reading Sports (report)

Donald whizzes from Oz for ‘brilliant’ Reading Sports

reading sports flag 640The organisers of the Reading Sports must be doing something right – because Donald Joshua came all the way from Australia to attend.

Donald – whose brother Brian still lives on St Helena – was one of more than 1,500 people who turned out for the annual UK gathering of Saints and their friends and families.

The organisers have been basking in the success of the event after taking a bold decision to move to a new venue at Reading Abbey Rugby Club.

The campsite filled up
The campsite filled up

Vilma Toms, secretary of the St Helena Association, said the high turn-out would mean bigger donations to charities back home.

She said: “It was absolutely brilliant. We had so much positive feedback from everybody.

“First of all, so much more space we had, and the fact that they could party all night should they want to.

“They enjoyed the club house, the disco, everything. It was a real party atmosphere.”

Staff from the rugby club and the inflatable rides were also enthusiastic about the event, said Vilma.

“The bouncy castle people said they’d love to come again because people were friendly and everybody was happy. The people in the rugby club are over the moon. They couldn’t do enough to help us. They just said, ‘The ground is yours, do what you like’.”

Click for fancy dress images
Click for fancy dress images

There was much more entertainment for children than in previous years, including bouncy castles, an inflatable obstacle course, a rodeo ride, and zorbing – rolling around inside giant transparent balls.

Some of the rides attracted just as many adults as children.

But while the races went ahead as usual – with adults required to run with balloons between their legs in the egg and spoon event – one traditional fixture was missing.

No one was willing to put up a team against the defending tug o’war champions, who were awarded the winners’ crate of beer without having to pull for it.

Perhaps they were all too busy zorbing.

Attendance was up on 2013, with about 1,100 paying adults and an estimated 500 children.

“More people were camping as well, so the party atmosphere started on Saturday and carried all the way through until three o’clock on Monday morning,” said Vilma.

Zorbing: click for a gallery
Zorbing: click for a gallery

Nick Stevens, who had travelled to the UK with the island’s Commonwealth Games team, manned the Enterprise St Helena stall, encouraging Saints to consider returning home to help build a new economy.

In the case of Pamela Ward Lees, departing chair of the Friends of St Helena, no persuasion was needed: she and partner Andy were at the sports to say farewell to friends before heading out to settle in Longwood (and make cakes).

The event itself took place in brilliant sunshine, but those who stayed on until bank holiday Monday had to take their tents down in heavy rain.

Hundreds of pictures were posted on Facebook by Paul George and official photographers Jessica Osborne and Emily Braden.

The association is supporting the same island charities as last year, including the arts and crafts group, the family support group and Father Dale Bowers’ fund for vulnerable people.

Facebook comments: 

Plenty of entertainment: click for gallery
Plenty of entertainment: click for gallery

Ronnie Benjamin Joshua: What an absolutely fantastic bank holiday weekend!!! Thank you all, a whole bunch of lovely family and friends in one place!

David Peters: What a great day on Sunday. Reading sports day was fantastic. Many thanks to the organisers St Helena Association for a great job and great venue. Clean toilets, plenty of parking, friendly staff, and most of all, so good to see so many familiar faces. It’s like a day of an analogue version of Facebook. Thanks for re-uniting us with long lost friends and relatives.

Patrick George: Thank you St Helena Association for making it all happen. I know a lot of blood, sweat, tears and possibly sleepless nights went into the preparation. It was my first time ever and I feel like I made history for myself. Met old school friends, family and people I didn’t know except they knew my late parents Eric and Ivy George.

Monica Yon: I would like to say a huge thank you to the St Helena Association for all their hard work and making such a wonderful entertaining day for all of us. I thoroughly enjoyed it and meeting everyone, well most people as I miss so many I would have love to chat and laugh with. Such a lovely turn-out too, and great location. Thank you.

Carryn Jones: Another fantastic weekend that was well worth the long drive from Aberdeen. Love the new venue!! Thoroughly enjoyed catching up with friends and family.

Children's races: click for gallery
Children’s races: click for gallery

Ursula Harris: I would like to say a MASSIVE THANK YOU to the St Helena Association for all the hard work that went into organising another memorable Sports Day.

Rio Duncan-Prasetyo: Thank you for an awesome long weekend! The foods, music, sports, hospitality….and the weather (how lucky). The committee are friendly, helpful and hard working. The Reading Rugby club staff – thank you so much for welcoming us.

Joanne Tori Bowers: Had a wonderful day at Reading Sport. St Helena Association always do their best to make our sports day special and great job for making everyone come together. Unfortunately that was my last sports day but it has been really good for all the years I have been going and good luck in future (Joanne is returning home).

Trevor Toms: Big thanks to the few people who help us – Renee and Rio Prasetyo and Larry Hudson for running the sports events – what a brilliant job they did. Thanks also to Felicity Walters, Darlene Peters, Lorraine Duncan and Pat Harris for helping us on the day. Special thanks to James Miller for all his help and enthusiasm. Grateful thanks also to Leon Miller for all his help. Thanks to Phil and Paul for the entertainment on Saturday night, and to Phil for the amazing disco on Sunday night – loved the lights and the smoke – cool!!. Thanks to the Brooks Brothers and Sawdust for giving us great entertainment in the clubhouse.

Gallery 1: Fancy Dress
Gallery 2: Seen at the Sports
Gallery 3: Children’s races
Gallery 4: Teen races
Gallery 5: Inflatable fun



Shooter Maddy tastes TV fame in baton relay programme

Maddy sets her sights on Scotland - as seen on the BBC iPlayer
Maddy sets her sights on Scotland – as seen on the BBC iPlayer

Commonwealth Games hopeful Madolyn Andrews features in a three-minute profile of St Helena on a BBC television programme following the Queen’s Baton Relay.

Maddy is seen training to take part in the shooting at the 2014 Games in Scotland.

If she succeeds in her ambition to compete, it’ll be only the second time she’s left the island – and the first time venturing beyond Ascension.

“If I go out in the bigger world to the Commonwealth Games I’ll be able to see what they do and how they do it,” she tells presenter Mark Beaumont.

Patrick Henry: "We'll be ready"
Patrick Henry: “We’ll be ready”

Her coach, Patrick Henry, says it is difficult preparing competitors for overseas competition in such isolation, but says he thinks his team “will be ready”.

The programme is available to UK viewers on the BBC iPlayer. It is scheduled to be shown on the BBC News Channel in the UK on Saturday at 1.30pm.

The Falkland Islands are featured as the “next destination” in the baton’s tour of the Commonwealth – ignoring the fact that it had to be carried ashore at Ascension Island to be transferred to the RAF flight to Stanley.

Ascension is not acknowledged as a stop-over on the baton website.

Mark Beaumont’s blog on the baton’s journey includes a post about the RMS St Helena, with photographs showing parts of the ship not normally seen by passengers. Read it here

And an unnamed Pilling School pupil is captured in a striking photograph on the BBC’s baton website, here

Commonwealth Games baton reaches St Helena

The baton was carried up Jacob's Ladder by Prince Andrew School students
The baton was carried up Jacob’s Ladder by Prince Andrew School students

By St Helena Government writer

The Queen’s Baton has arrived at St Helena island, the 40th stop in its relay around the 70 nations and territories of the Commonwealth.

The baton stops at the island for two days en-route from Cape Town to Ascension Island, accompanied by sports officials, a BBC team and a photojournalist.

It was brought ashore from the RMS St Helena and received by His Excellency Governor Capes at the wharf on the morning of 19 February 2014, with schoolchildren and members of the public looking on.

baton comes ashoreThe baton was then transferred to participants of past Commonwealth and Island Games at the seafront, before the primary schools relayed it across the wharf to Jacob’s Ladder.

Prince Andrew School students relayed the baton up the 699 steps of the Ladder before it was brought back to Jamestown by members of New Horizons youth group.

The Queen’s Baton was then officially received in the Governor’s Office and by Members of St Helena Legislative Council.

HE Governor Capes said: “The people of St Helena are delighted to be included in the Queen’s Baton Relay and I am sure that the team accompanying the baton will receive a warm welcome as the baton tours our Island.

“And after the pleasant five-day journey from Cape Town on the RMS St Helena, I have no doubt that our visitors will be excited to see the beauty of St Helena and to meet as many as Saints as possible.”

The baton then began making its way around various assembly points on the island, where the community has been encouraged to take part in this international event by touching and viewing the baton.

It was due to visit all schools, Longwood House, the airport site, the Community Care Complex, the disability charity SHAPE, the hospital, and Plantation House – to visit the island’s oldest resident, Jonathan the tortoise.

The baton will leave on the RMS St Helena on Friday 21 February, bound for her next stop at Ascension Island.

This is the third time St Helena island has participated in the Queen’s Baton Relay celebrations. The first baton visited in May 2005 and the second in February 2010.

The Queen’s Baton Relay is a much loved tradition of the Commonwealth Games and symbolises the coming together of all Commonwealth nations and territories in preparation for the four-yearly festival of sport.

The Glasgow 2014 Queen’s Baton Relay is the curtain-raiser to the 20th Commonwealth Games. Over a period of 288 days the Baton will have visited 70 nations and territories and covered 190,000 kilometres.

The finish line is in the host nation, Scotland, where it is due to arrive just in time for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony in Glasgow on 23 July 2014, where Her Majesty The Queen will read aloud a message to the Commonwealth.

Click on any thumbnail below to see a gallery of images