Deep in the cellars, something stirred… it was New Horizons, cooking up another ghoulish treat for Hallowe’en, this time at Jamestown Community Centre. In 2012 the youth charity’s hugely successful fundraising night was held at High Knoll Fort, but a haunted house in Jamestown was easier to set up. It’s taken a while to get the pictures up on this website (courtesy of New Horizons’ photographer), but if you were too scared to venture into the vaults – or too far away – then click on the image above to visit the full gallery.
Fund-raisers have been told it is not safe to go ahead with a sponsored walk up the airport haul road on St Helena – for the time being.
Fresh digging has taken place on the 14-kilometre track, creating a risk of unstable ground.
New Horizons youth service planned to stage the walk, through part of the island that few people visit, on Sunday, 11 February 2013.
The road was built to allow Basil Read construction vehicles to travel from Rupert’s Bay to the airport site on Prosperous Bay Plain. It will be turned into a public road once the airport is built.
Janet Lawrence, the airport project director, said: “Basil Read has been taking advantage of the good weather in recent weeks to continue works on the haul road, including excavation work to take the road to its final alignment.
“These works are still ongoing and there are obvious safety concerns with members of the public entering areas that have recently been excavated.
“Whilst Basil Read can mitigate risk for their workers travelling through the haul road in construction vehicles, this is not as simple in the case of pedestrians.
“Basil Read therefore took an operational decision to postpone the sponsored walk. The haul road is a construction site and remains closed to the public in the interests of safety.”
Nick Stevens of New Horizons said: “We were really disappointed that the walk was cancelled, as so many people were looking forward to doing it.
“But we have to accept the decision made by Basil Read, as they would know best in regards to whether the road is safe or not for people to walk.”
He said the walk would still go ahead on a different route, starting from Francis Plain and taking in Knollcombes, White Gate, Casons, Mackintosh, Rosemary Plain, Scotland, and Red Hill.
The New Horizons group has come up with yet another novel fund-raising idea for its youth work – a sponsored walk up the new airport haul road.
The 14-kilometre track, built to carry construction traffic and materials from the new wharf in Rupert’s Bay to the construction site, won’t become a public highway until the airport is finished.
But contractor Basil Read has given consent for it to be taken over by pedestrians on Sunday, 10 February 2013.
New Horizons chairman Derek Richards said: “It’s an opportunity to see first-hand this new part of the island’s infrastructure and to raise funds for a worthy cause.”
On 15 January, the youth organisation in Jamestown announced it was half-way towards raising the £12,400 it needed to take island teenagers to Ascension, to help prepare them for life in the wider world.
The bill includes seven return passages on the RMS St Helena, and the cost of meals for 35 days.
Fund-raising events have included this week’s Ladder Challenge, a car-wash, a reggae night, a Christmas bazaar and raffle, an open-air movie night, and the immensely successful creation of a haunted house at High Knoll Fort.
Donations have also been received from the Governor’s Office (£500), Derek Richards and gang (£110) and Marjorie and Dave Harding (£300).
The haul road walk will start at 09.30 hours. It promises to test the resolve of walkers: after a mile, they’ll be almost back where they started – but much higher up – thanks to the way the road climbs up the valley and doubles back towards the sea.
The record for climbing Jacob’s Ladder has been broken by less than a second – by a “runner” who went up on all fours.
Graham Doig cleared the 699th step of the St Helena landmark in a time of 5 minutes, 16.78 seconds, using feet and hands. Then he rolled on to the ground at the feet of spectators.
The previous record was 5 minutes 17 seconds.
And island resident Martin Squibbs set a new record for others to try to beat – five ascents of the Ladder (and four descents) in a time of one hour, 14 minutes and 4 seconds, with the clock running throughout.
Martin is an outdoor enthusiast who has made a practice of climbing the notorious flight of steps out of Jamestown at least twice a week.
He had previously managed three ascents in succession before deciding to set himself the five-climb challenge.
School student Charlotte Hubbard also completed three ascents, but her overall time was not recorded because organisers had not known in advance that she would do so.
Graham is a visiting consultant working for engineering firm Fairhurst, due to leave the island on 25 January 2013 after a two-week visit. He is a keen mountain biker.
He passed up on the technique used by most Ladder challengers, who use the wide handrails to pull themselves up, and instead pitched forward and placed both his hands and his feet on the steps, as though climbing a fireman’s ladder.
The same approach could be adopted by future runners – especially those with short arms.
In all, 24 people took part in the Ladder Challenge in aid of New Horizons youth centre – many of them members of the organisation. Chairman Derek Richards and his wife Linda joined the climb, as did manager Nick Stevens.
Ten-year-old Josh Benjamin managed the climb in 9 minutes and 28 seconds, six seconds faster than Aiden Yon-Stevens – Nick’s son – who was the youngest challenger, aged just seven.
Every participant was asked to raise at least £5 in sponsorship.
All pictures by Tina Yon-Stevens
Each of the Ladder’s 699 steps is roughly 11 inches high and 11 inches deep, making an incline of about 1:1. But cruelly, it’s much steeper at the top.
There used to be 700 steps. The bottom one is now below ground.
Jacob’s Ladder was originally built as an inclined railway for hauling animal dung and guano out of Jamestown, and to lower fresh produce into the town. Construction was supervised by Lieutenant G W Mellis during the governorship of Brigadier-General Dallas. Trucks were pulled by ropes linked to a capstan, powered by donkeys. The railway fell into ruin when the East India Company lost control of St Helena.
Island children learned to slide down the rails of the ladder, extending their arms along one rail and using their feet to brake against the other. It is said they carried hot food down to soldiers, on their stomachs.
The original Jacob’s Ladder appears in the Book of Genesis in the Holy Bible. It led to Heaven. The St Helena Jacob’s Ladder leads somewhere else.
Several other places around the world have flights of steps called Jacob’s Ladder. They are found in the UK at Sidmouth, Cheddar Gorge and the iconic Kinder Scout hill, and in Massachusetts (USA), Auckland (New Zealand) and Perth (Australia).
Andrew Gurr, governor from 2007 to 2011, climbed the Ladder regularly. He invited islanders to join him on his hundredth ascent, and many did.
Ladder challenges are staged every two years as the final event in the St Helena Festival of Running. If it was the first event, runners would suffer “ladder legs” and be unable to manage the run up Diana’s Peak.
Records are now kept of the fastest ascent times, but they do not include the results of a challenge staged for the first Governor’s Cup yacht race carnival in 1996. For the record, a yachtie from New Caledonia won a crate of beer for running up in 5 mins, 33 secs. Second place – and no beer – went to the future editor of St Helena Online, with a time of 5 mins 45.12 secs. Chris, a UK half-Saint from Portsmouth, was third in 5.52.
Matty John, a legendary squeezebox player in the mid 20th Century, would climb the Ladder every Saturday night after sessions in the White Horse. Once, near the top, he fell, but was saved when his braces got snagged. He was spotted by an inmate in the prison below, and rescued.
When first-time climbers think they’re half way up the Ladder, they’re not.
Twenty four people took part in the Ladder Challenge on 21 January 2013. With the eight ascents completed by Martin Squibbs and Charlotte Hubbard, the total number of steps climbed was 20,970.
For more Jacob’s Ladder facts, visit John Turner’s St Helena website
Two large pans of plo went liked Greased Lightnin’ and the T-Birds and Pink Ladies went together nicely.
And best of all, it didn’t rain on movie night when New Horizons staged an open-air screening of the movie Grease at Francis Plain on 29 December 2012.
Just as well, because the Fifties car set up in the goalpost, just for photographs, would have got rather soggy.
Click here to see a gallery of pictures by DEBBIE WAHLE, taken before the crowds turned up.
The blood-soaked, knife-wielding maniac who lunged out of the darkness gave a whole new meaning to the term, “family butcher.”
The Hallowe’en haunting of St Helena’s High Knoll Fort was declared “a fantastic night” by Nick Stevens.
Nick’s New Horizons youth service team had filled the gloom of the fort’s stone rooms with ghouls and grisly scare mongers, for an ambitious fund-raiser.
Shuttle buses brought victims to the old fort like maidens to a vampire’s crypt. “The queues for the haunted house was amazing,” said Nick on Facebook. “The people wouldn’t even leave the queue when we break for 30 minutes.”
The event followed the success of the previous year’s venture, when the team turned Kingshurst Community Centre into a haunted house.
Demand for entry was so great that some people were turned away and a bigger venue was chosen, despite the challenges of safety and logistics.
Praise came from the highest echelons of St Helena Government, with financial secretary Colin Owen declaring: “Brilliant night, some great moments with so many people screaming. Count us in for next year!”
St Helena police were in attendance to make sure nothing went wrong – some working as volunteers – and a few brave officers even ventured into the haunted rooms.
Without a search warrant…
When dawn finally came, Nick’s team were left with a massive clean-up job – while the rest of the island celebrated St Helena’s carnival day.
High Knoll Fort has seen some gruesome things in its time. Two centuries ago, to the very year, six men were hanged there on a makeshift gallows, for leading a mutiny.
It is about to become a place of horror once again – but this time, for paying customers. “People want to be scared,” said Nick Stevens.
He and his team at St Helena’s New Horizons youth centre are transforming the 200-year-old citadel into a fortress of fear.
It follows their success at turning Kingshurst Community Centre into a haunted house for Hallowe’en in 2011.
“It was too successful,” he said. “We couldn’t get everyone in and loads of people was left disappointed, even though we ran it from seven to midnight. We wanted a bigger venue and High Knoll is the ideal place.
“Last year there was a few people who was really petrified. It’s going to be a bit more scary and gruesome.
“We had lots of good comments last time and there’s one lady just got off the ship and she said she went to London Dungeon and it wasn’t as good as this.
“We’ve got loads more props. The actors are really good and the sound effects and lighting have to be good on the night.
“It’s different scenes than we had last time. There’s going to be a couple of rooms with medieval things. I don’t want to give too much away.
“Hopefully at the end we can get all the actors out and people can see it wasn’t real.”
Police, the fire service and public health officials have all been involved in planning the event and making sure it is safe.
“Of course, there’s dangerous places up there,” said Nick, in an interview with Tony Leo of Saint FM. “We are barricading places off and marshalling them as well.”
The tourism department is paying for the security marshalls, and police will also be present – some of them working as volunteers, including behind the bar.
Basil Read, the airport construction firm, is supplying back-up floodlighting and lending two buses for a park-and-ride service up through Half Tree Hollow, starting at 6.15pm. The narrow approach to the fort means no one will be allowed to walk up to it.
There will be some respite from the ghoulishness. “The main attraction is the haunted house,” said Nick, “but there will be loads of other stuff: kiddies’ corner, movie, disco, a barbecue.
“Serena’s light and horror stall will be there and the Fowlers are doing candy floss, popcorn and toffee apples. It’s not very often we get toffee apples on St Helena so that’s something extra.”
There will also be cash prizes for the best fancy dress.
“Any event we do we try and aim it at the whole family,” said Nick, whose team also runs the island’s St Helena Day celebrations. “I think that’s really important.”
And if Nick has a haunted look in the days running up to the event, it’s because there’s one big fear hanging over him that doesn’t come from the special effects department. “We just don’t want the rain to come,” he said.
Admission to the Hallowe’en Scream at High Knoll Fort is £1 for adults, and 50p for children.
Money raised will go to the work of New Horizons and to the island’s family trust.
Nick Stevens is to receive a Badge of Honour for the work he does for St Helena, and especially the island’s young people.
As head of the New Horizons youth project in Jamestown he has overseen the organisation of St Helena Day celebrations for the past six years, raising thousands of pounds.
He and his team also organise group activity holidays on Ascension for young Saints, often giving them their first experience of leaving St Helena. Another trip is due to take place in 2013.
Nick gave his reaction on Facebook, saying he was “not sure what capacity I am receiving this for.”
The Badge of Honour and certificate is due to be presented at the Queen’s Birthday Garden Party at Plantation House on Saturday.
The award recognises loyal service by public servants, or “loyal and meritorious conduct that has provided exceptional benefit to the people of St Helena.”
The Certificate and Badge of Honour date back to 1957 but were not given on a regular basis until 2010, when Governor Andrew Gurr presented awards to Ann Sim, Desmond Wade and Robert Robertson.
Awards are also given for bravery.
St Helena Day ‘best to date’, says Nick
Nick Stevens – Facebook
The “best St Helena Day” for years raised more than two and a half thousand pounds for Nick Stevens’s organising team at New Horizons.
Monday’s celebrations included the biggest firework display seen on the island for a decade, and the introduction of new comic sports, including a dressing-up race.
“This was the first time we had novelty sports outside of the swimming pool and I thought it went really well,” said Nick. “There were people down there laughing until tears come out their eyes.
“The teams had to get eight of their team members into a Mini. That was quite a laugh.
New Horizons and Basil Read, the airport contractor, shared first place in the tournament, said Nick, “but because they are guests I talked to New Horizons and we decided to give them the gold medal and the cup.”
Click here to see Saint FM’s pictures of St Helena Day celebrations
The celebrations began with a religious service, with music provided by members of the St Helena Band, the Gettogethers Orchestra and the Salvation Army. There was also a parade by the Guides and Scouts.
The afternoon procession saw a replica of the RMS St Helena come sailing down Main Street – but the stern half of the vessel was that of a square-rigged sailing ship. And soaring above it all was an aeroplane.
The extraordinary ship was created by Pilling School in Jamestown with the title, “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.” First prize was taken by another ship, created by St Paul’s.
A mini marathon attracted 32 runners, and 29 people took part in the gruelling Jacob’s Ladder Challenge, with competitors taking turns to tackle the 699 steps well into the evening.
“I was really pleased with the turnout,” said Nick, whose team has organised the event for the past six years. “We had close to 2,000 people in attendance and it was probably our best St Helena Day to date.
“We were quite amazed with the takings on the gate – £1,912.89. That is the most we have ever taken on the gate.”
With sponsorship and a street collection, New Horizons has banked £2,536.67 to help pay for its work with young people on the island. It is fund-raising to take a group of teenagers to Ascension Island next year.
“It wouldn’t work without the fantastic help I have had,” Nick told Saint FM. “It takes a lot of effort and it wouldn’t be possible without the help of a lot of people.”
He thanked various groups, including Johnny Dillon’s team at the Mule Yard and the police, as well as the main sponsors, St Helena Government and the Bank of St Helena.
The celebrations, which take place on 21 May each year, mark the anniversary of the island’s discovery in 1502.
St Helena Day dances also took place in the UK on Saturday night, in London and Swindolena.
(Pictures courtesy of Saint FM and Barry Hubbard)