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A great year and an exciting future – by Governor Capes

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St Helena Online is happy to publish this Christmas message from His Excellency Mark Capes, Governor of St Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ and as another year draws to an end, many people will pause to reflect on the events of the past year. I see it as a year of progress and adjustment.  A year in which, at last, we have seen the airport project really get underway.  We should warmly congratulate all those working with Basil Read, Saints and non-Saints alike, including Halcrow and many others – on a year of impressive achievements.  Well done to all and may 2013 be another safe and productive year for you as you labour to deliver this massive and vital project on schedule.

As the work on the airport project has progressed, so everyone on St Helena, and Saints everywhere, have started to adjust to the reality that we will soon have air access. They have begun to consider how it may change their lives, their hopes and expectations, their way of doing things.  Exciting times indeed as we begin to adjust to the changes ahead.  But how we adjust is key to the way forward.  Let us not fear change, let us embrace it and the new opportunities it will bring.  Let us pull together as one to achieve the prosperity and the improved standard of living it will make possible – better social services, better infrastructure, better opportunities for our young people for rewarding careers on St Helena.

In addition to the tremendous progress on the airport project there have been so many other really positive developments this year at so many levels, big and small, that I can’t mention them all here, but I’ll note just a few. I recall the excitement as we bid Godspeed to our cricket team as they sailed away to compete in international cricket for the first time; and what pride there was in their success. In this Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee year we saw great strength and unity in our communities on St Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha, as together we marked this happy occasion.  A new community owned newspaper, The Sentinel, was born. Starting from scratch, with a young and talented all-Saint team, it has developed into an excellent media operation, providing crisp and refreshingly objective reporting, soon to be complemented by three new FM radio stations.  Just recently we were impressed at the skill and energy of the RMS crew who managed to undertake difficult repairs to the ship’s port engine, in what must have been record breaking time, so that the RMS could catch up with her schedule at this busy time of the year. I saw for myself on the ship what they had to do and I was mightily impressed that they managed it so quickly.  That’s just a few of the many positive events of 2012 that come to my mind as I write this Christmas message.

Some friends of mine in the community passed on in 2012 and I know that this can be a particularly emotional moment for those celebrating Christmas for the first time without loved ones who have recently passed away; let us remember them in our prayers.  And as we observe the grief and tragedy in some parts of the world  – here I think particularly of the devastated families of the young victims of the recent massacre in Connecticut and the terrible loss of life in Syria – let us also count our blessings that we live in safe and caring communities.  St Helena also marked, with customary dignity, the recent Remembrance Day commemoration.  My thanks go to the men and women of our emergency services for all that they do to keep us safe and let us give special thanks to those that will be on duty over the Christmas and New Year festivities.

Last year Tamara and I celebrated Christmas in St Helena, while this year we are in England with our daughters. We thank you all for giving us such a rewarding and happy 2012 and look forward to our return to St Helena early in January.  Our best wishes for a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year.

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