Paul Blessington, who had to leave his post as St Helena’s Financial Secretary to seek urgent medical help, has died in Australia. He had cancer.
Paul’s contribution to life on St Helena went far beyond the requirements of his job. He was an energetic leader of Jamestown scouts, and supplied regular reports on the golf club.
The following statement was issued from The Castle on 14 November 2012:
St Helena Government has this morning learned the deeply sad news that our former colleague and Financial Secretary, Paul Blessington, passed away today in Australia.
HE Governor Capes has sent a message of condolence to Margaret Blessington and Paul’s family on behalf of the public service.
Governor Capes said: “Tamara and I were deeply saddened to learn of Paul’s death. I have also received messages from colleagues in the FCO and DfID who were also sorry to hear this news.
“Paul fought a tremendous fight against his illness, supported with much love and care from Margaret and his family and friends. His memory will live on in the hearts and minds of so many people here in St Helena.”
Paul was born in the UK but his career took him to Australia, where he became national president of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. He also taught public sector management at the Australian National University.
He arrived on St Helena in January 2009 to work as government economist, and he and his family quickly began to make an impact in other areas of island life, including the scouts and guides.
A year later he was promoted to become Financial Secretary, giving him a seat on the island’s executive council.
He was a very fit man, and would regularly run from The Castle in Jamestown to his home at Piccolo Hill, Longwood in under an hour – involving an ascent of 2,000 feet. In the past he had taken part in mountain running events.
But his name did not feature in the results lists for the 2012 St Helena Festival of Running.
On 12 July 2012, only a few weeks before his three-year contract was to end, it was announced that he would be leaving the island that day on the NP Glory 4 cargo ship, having been advised to seek urgent medical attention.
Storms meant his voyage was uncomfortable and prolonged by several days, but he reached Namibia in time to catch a flight to Cape Town, where he underwent tests. He eventually flew home to Australia.
The news of his death came only a day after Governor Bates paid tribute to former councillor Michael “Newpence” Benjamin, who died on 9 November 2012. Read more.