When he’s at work, Andy Crowe is a housing executive with a strong social conscience – but on his days off, he is The Scourge of all Europe.
No one told him that going into exile on St Helena would see him leading a double life as a deposed emperor.
It began when he was asked to play the island’s most famous former resident, Napoleon, for a visiting BBC crew making a programme about the great man (meaning Bonaparte, not Andy).
And on St Helena’s Day 2013, he found himself doing the Boney Boogie on the back of the New Horizons float in the procession – a mobile replica of Napoleon’s final home.
He also took part in the day’s Ladder Challenge, climbing the 699 steps out of Jamestown in full costume.
Andy tells St Helena Online: “I was delighted to be asked to play the role of Napoleon, but the really hard work was done by Nicky [Stevens] and the New Horizons team in coming up with the idea of recreating Longwood House on a lorry.
“The costumes worn by the guards were also brilliant. All I had to do was sit and look glum for a couple of hours – though I did break it up every now and then with the Napoleonic Boogie.
“And being asked by the BBC to take part in Andrew Roberts’ forthcoming series was perhaps the most surreal moment of my life.
“I was the sort of person who feigned illness to avoid taking part in school plays.”
Michel Dancoisne-Martineau, custodian of the island’s Napoleonic properties, said he was surprised and proud when New Horizons proposed recreating Longwood House on wheels.
The work was sponsored by Johnny Isaac and carried out by Charlie George. Sadly, the model will not survive to be used again.
Matt Joshua of Enterprise St Helena reported on Facebook:
Sad, but the awesome float is to be dismantled… I asked, as wanted to do a display with the front. But at least the materials are being recycled!
So could Andy now have a second job, doubling as Napoleon? He was quite taken with the idea:
‘It really surprised me that there were so few Napoleonic costumes on the island,” he said.
“I will only be wearing it for special occasions – more often and people will question my mental health.
“But the idea of Napoleon welcoming and posing with Cruise passengers is a great one. I’ve therefore offered it to New Horizons and Shape [the disability charity] so that volunteers can pose with passengers in exchange for a £5 donation to their good causes.”