St Helena Online


IN PICTURES: The day St Helena stopped to see history fly in from the ocean, by Darrin and Sharon Henry

150915 What The Saints Did Next 22 St Helena airport150915 What The Saints Did Next 31 St Helena airport 150915 What The Saints Did Next 10 St Helena airportSharon and Darrin Henry have produced some fine photojournalism from around the world, but on 15 September 2015, the big story was on their own island.

They photographed the arrival of the first plane ever to land at St Helena’s nearly-completed airport, and they photographed the people who turned out to see it: the human face of a historic day.

A report – and many more pictures – will appear on their blog, What The Saints Did Next, in the next few days. See also their Facebook page.

Click on any of the thumbnails below to view a selection of their pictures.

IN PICTURES: The big switch-on at St Helena’s airport

They travelled across St Helena, in poor weather, to witness the first switching-on of the many runway lights at the island’s first airport: another landmark in the progress towards its scheduled completion in February 2016. BRUCE SALT was there and has kindly sent the pictures below. He writes: 

“The event was announced on Saint FM and the planned illumination was to be for half an hour, but the station could not have imagined just how many islanders would have manned the high ground at Bradleys and Levelwood to see the inaugural illumination of the island’s airstrip.

“Basil Read bosses were taken back by the public’s curiosity when they witnessed more than 200 vehicles rolling through Longwood through fog and rain to catch a glimpse of
lights, so much so that they extended the illumination time by an hour.”

St Helena Online thanks Bruce, as ever. Click on any other thumbnails to see a gallery of larger images.

Don’t get too puffed up, Marcus, but… you’ve been framed

With the mask and goggles that protect him from the daily risk of an explosion – to say nothing of his vast balloon – Marcus Henry looks like a desert wanderer who’s been blown badly off course.

But now it’s his ego that’s in danger of being over-inflated.

His picture has earned a temporary place in one of the world’s most prestigious photographic exhibitions, at the National Portrait Gallery in London.

Picture by Jon Tonks, used with permissionClick the pic to see a larger image

Jon Tonks’s picture of him was one of just 60 chosen from more than 4,000 images submitted for the annual Taylor Wessing portrait exhibition, which runs until 22 February 2015.

The picture also appeared at the top of page three of the Independent newspaper’s Saturday magazine.

In a short video on Jon’s website, Marcus and weather station colleagues Garry and Marvin explain how they release a hydrogen-filled balloon into the sky every day to measure atmospheric pressure, temperature, humidity and wind speed.

The clothing they wear helps prevent static electricity making sparks when they pick up the balloon, and igniting the very highly flammable hydrogen inside it.

Jon visited St Helena as part of his Empire project, in which he travelled to several of Britain’s most remote overseas territories (and Gibraltar). A picture of young men on Tristan da Cunha was included in the Taylor Wessing exhibition in 2012.

Photographs from his South Atlantic travels also appeared in the Observer and Sunday Times magazines.

He said he was really pleased to be selected for the Taylor Wessing exhibition a second time.

“I never expected Marcus to get in,” he said, “but I’ve always enjoyed the story behind his job on St Helena and thought it was worth go.”

Now – has anyone seen Marcus’s camel? It must have floated off on the wind.

Click to watch: The St Helena Balloon Men 

See also: 
Raymond and Cynthia achieve a uniform kind of fame
‘Nationettes’ star in Sunday Times Magazine
The Taylor Wessing Prize



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)

Don’t stay too long at St Helena’s craziest attraction…

In seven years of non-stop travelling to more than 140 countries, Gary Arndt has photographed some extraordinary sights: the rainbows over the Victoria Falls, a diving penguin in Antarctica, even human skulls in the killing fields of Cambodia.

But on St Helena, what caught his eye was the parking sign in Jamestown.

Click here to see his picture of what he believed to be “the world’s most complicated parking zone” (and he’s in a good position to judge).

True, he also took pictures of Sandy Bay and Jonathan the tortoise.

Within a couple of days, his shot of the 58-word No Parking sign had been given more than 50 “likes” on Facebook. Catch Our Travel Bug commented: “By the time you read the sign, your time is up.”

St Helena was one of 13 places around the world that Gary most wanted to visit, on a list he published on his Everything Everywhere travel blog in 2011. While on the island, he marked the seventh anniversary of the day he handed over the keys of his house to go travelling. When he left, he told friends he’d wander the world for a year, but privately thought it might be two years.

He’s since taught himself to become an award-winning photographer. His website attracts more than 100,000 readers a year – many of whom will doubtless savour his descriptions of St Helena.

He was not disappointed by a “gorgeous island with some of the most interesting people in the world”.

And perhaps, with the eye of a travel expert, Gary has identified a tourist attraction that hasn’t been properly appreciated by those whose job is to promote St Helena.

World’s Oldest Tortoise, World’s Toughest Stairs and World’s Most Remote Nearly Everything are all great claims to fame, but World’s Craziest Parking Sign might appeal to an entirely new breed of tourist.

Those who cross oceans to see it are unlikely, one feels, to pull up in a car.


SEE ALSO: Everything Everywhere – Gary Arndt’s travel blog.

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


Swimming with whale sharks – an island tradition

A swimmer with a whale shark off St Helena. Click the pic to see Julian Beard's video
A swimmer with a whale shark off St Helena. Click the pic to see Julian Beard’s video

Swimming with whale sharks is nothing new on St Helena. Fishermen used to have to fend them off, to avoid taking an unplanned dip alongside them, according to video-maker Julian Beard.

He used a high-tech Go Pro camera to record an encounter with five of the giant creatures off Jamestown – though only two feature in the video he has posted on YouTube.

The camera’s ultra-wide lens makes them appear far closer to the swimmers than they really were, says Julian.

whale shark video link 550

Click the pic to see Julian Beard’s whale shark video

“This is only my second time swimming with whale sharks,” says Julian, “but I saw them on numerous occasions during my childhood. I know loads of people who have been swimming with them for years.

“The last two years are the most I have ever seen: last year 17, this year 35 individuals.

“I remember talking to fishermen about how these giants have lifted the bows of their
boats out of the water as they rub themselves against the boats. Usually you would have to use an oar to push them away from the boat in fear of being flipped over.”

Whale sharks are harmless to humans, but even so, with adults reaching the size of a bus, you’d want to keep them at a safe distance from a small boat.

Scroll down for a gallery of images from Julian’s video

“Swimming with these gentle giants is an experiance of a lifetime,” says Julian. “You feel so tiny beside them as they glide along.

Click the pic to see Julian's video
Click the pic to see Julian’s video

“As long as you respect them they don’t mind you being there. If you start to splash around or jump into the water near them and act erratically they will swim off.

“At the end of the video you will see some tourists from another boat jumping into the water and splashing around, which scared the shark off.”

Julian has also published videos shot while motorcycling around the island, some of them with a large group of fellow bikers.

“I’m trying to compile some videos of activities that Saints get up to during their spare time,” he says. “Many of these activities are slowly dying out. For example, the motorcycle rides use to consist of 60 bikes or more; now they are down to a handful.

“People used to go down to the ocean after work daily and compete in water sports. Now barely anybody does this anymore.

“I’m trying to get a video of people sliding down the Ladder to get into town, which is now something rarely seen. I can remember 15 years ago watching loads of people slide down at the same time.”

  • An electronic tag attached to a whale shark – nicknamed Bella and thought to be pregnant – has enabled scientists to track her movements for several hundred kilometres. Click here to follow Bella’s journey. 

Click on the thumbnails below to see images from Julian Beard’s video

Raymond and Cynthia achieve a uniform kind of fame

Click the pic of Raymond and Cynthia to find out how to order Jon Tonks's book, Empire
Click the pic of Raymond and Cynthia to find out how to order Jon Tonks’s book, Empire

Nearly a million people read The Observer newspaper. And in the final issue of 2013, they have been treated to a picture of Cynthia George and Raymond Hudson, posing in their scouting uniforms on Jamestown seafront.

The photographer, Jon Tonks, has a thing about uniforms.

The Observer says they illustrate the strangely British, but not-quite-British culture of the South Atlantic islands he features in his new book, Empire.

The picture of Raymond and Cynthia is one of the thousands Jon took for the book – 400 rolls of film in all.

During a five-year tour of the UK’s South Atlantic territories, he’s photographed firemen, police officers and the governor of the Falkland Islands in their official garb, and others besides.

Observer writer Sean O’Hagan says the book highlights “the often absurd traces of an older kind of Britishness that linger in these in-between, out-of-the-way territories”.

It also, we’re told, “evokes the everyday oddness of life” in these remnants of the British Empire.

Scouting, of course, is found all over the world, so there’s nothing odd about two Saints wearing their uniforms – Raymond as “an honorary member of the St Helena Scout Group”, and Cynthia as assistant beaver leader.

Jon, whose pictures of the territories previously appeared in the 50th anniversary issue of the iconic Sunday Times Magazine, travelled 50,000 miles in the course of his project, and spent 32 days at sea.

He visited the Falklands, St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, where he photographed two lifeboats that had been hurled up a cliff by storm seas.

The Observer’s verdict on his arduous mission: “It was worth it.”

Signed pre-launch copies of Empire can be ordered from Jon’s website, here

Click any of the thumbnails below to see larger images from Jon’s book:

SEE ALSO: ‘Nationettes’ star in Sunday Times Magazine

READ MORE: Empire, by Jon Tonks – Observer review

2013: look back on a momentous year – on camera

Gravity Rush was one of the highlights of 2013. Click to pic to see more images from the year.
Gravity Rush was one of the highlights of 2013. Click to pic to see more images from the year.

There was drought and there was a controversial election – and plenty of big celebrations, as only St Helena knows how to throw them. And Ascension and Tristan da Cunha produced a few good stories in 2013. Click on the image above to look back on a great year, in pictures. And read our review of the year here

Santa’s coming (or going) on a Royal Mail Ship

Picture by Barry Hubbard

A sunburned Santa lounges by the pool, and there’s a snowman watching over the sun deck.

Xmas RMS 250 Barry HubbardYes, it’s Christmas – even in mid-ocean.

The decorations on board the RMS St Helena were photographed by Barry Hubbard, who was returning to the island with his family on the run down from Ascension.

And Bruce Salt snapped the old ship as she slipped away below Half Tree Hollow on her Christmas voyage down to Cape Town.

It’s an unusual but striking view of the RMS. Bruce’s comment: “Dratted power lines in Tungi Town :-(”

Scroll down to see larger images in a click-through gallery.

RMS departs 640 by Bruce Salt

Click on the thumbnails to see the full-size images: