St Helena Online

Tristan da Cunha

Tristan midwife is awarded British Empire Medal

A retired midwife on Tristan da Cunha has been awarded the British Empire Medal in the 2013 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

The citation reads: Mrs Marilyn (Gladys) Anna LAVARELLO, Midwife, Camogli Hospital, Tristan da Cunha. For services to the community in Tristan da Cunha.

According to the Tristan website, Gladys is expected to be presented with her honour when Governor Mark Capes visits the island aboard the HMS St Helena later in the year.

The British Empire Medal was revived in 2012 by Prime Minister David Cameron to recognise “the dedication and hard work so many provide to their communities”.

It has been discontinued in 1993 by his predecessor, John Major, who said it entrenched class divisions because it was only awarded to people of lower social rank. It was known as “the working class gong”.

Past recipients included George Benjamin, the man who rediscovered the lost St Helena ebony and worked to raise awareness of the importance of the island’s unique plants.

Sir Bob Kerslake, chairman of the honours committee told the BBC in 2012: “It’s very, very local contribution, hands-on action on the ground.”

In the UK, the BEM is not awarded by the Queen or Prince of Wales but by Lord-Lieutenants, who are the representatives of the Crown for each county in the UK.

Peter Caruana, the former Chief Minister of Gibraltar, is made a knight of the Order of St Michael and St George. He is one of nine people to be honoured for services to Gibraltar in the 2013 list.

No one from St Helena, Ascension or the Falkland Islands has been included in the list.

Visit the Tristan website to see a picture of Marilyn Lavarello.

Tea and fruit run out as Tristan supply ship turns back

Rationing has been introduced at the store on Tristan da Cunha after the supply ship MV Edinburgh was forced to turn back while en route to the island.

The ship was 500 miles from Tristan on 30 May 2013 when Captain Clarence October MBE decided to return to Cape Town because of technical problems.

The last delivery of fresh produce and mail was on 26 March 2013. The Edinburgh is not expected to reach the island until 18 June, meaning a gap of 12 weeks without fresh supplies.

The Tristan website has reported that the island store was rationing flour and milk, and stocks of tea had sold out.

It quoted islander Dawn Repetto, saying: “The children are longing for fruit as we have been out of apples and oranges for quite a while.”

The 11 passengers on board the Edinburgh will have spent a fortnight at sea by the time the ship reaches South Africa, probably on Thursday 6 June 2013.

According to the island website,, they include the Tristan desk officer at the Foreign Office, the administrator’s daughter, and two children.

A tug sent out to meet the vessel has successfully transferred spares and repairs have been carried out to enable the ship to continue under its own power, travelling at about nine knots.

If further repairs and sea trials go well, the Edinburgh is scheduled to set out on 11 June 2013 for the week-long voyage to the island – a trip of 1,700 miles.

By the time the passengers reach the island, they will have sailed more than 4,000 miles.

Despite “challenging” weather conditions, all those on board were said to be well.

The island website listed the passengers as: education adviser Carl Lander, his wife and two children; locum medical officer Dr D’Silva; an Ovenstone factory engineer; administrator Sean Burns’ daughter, Kelly; Ian Cramman, the Tristan desk officer at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; and islanders Shaun and Renee Green and Glenys Swain.

Fresh produce and perishables aboard the MV Edinburgh are to be inspected when the vessel arrives in Cape Town, and replaced if required.

First ever Ascension Island flag to fly

His Excellency Mark Capes, Governor of St Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha, has warmly welcomed Royal approval of the design of the first ever flag of Ascension Island, saying:

“I am delighted to announce that Her Majesty The Queen has graciously approved the design of the first ever flag for Ascension Island, part of the British Overseas Territory of St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha.  Ascension Island now has its own flag, which it will fly with pride.

“The residents on Ascension Island will raise their flag for the first time during a ceremony on Saturday 11 May 2013, when the Island will celebrate Ascension Day, after which the Island was named in 1503.”  

Ascension Island Flag
Ascension’s Coat of Arms

The flag, as for other Overseas Territories, is the Blue Ensign adorned with the Coat of Arms for Ascension Island (see image to right).  Ascension’s Coat of Arms, which was approved by Her Majesty in May 2012, shows important symbols from the Territory, including a shield emblazoned with the Green Mountain that dominates the skyline, together with three Wideawake Birds, secured by two Green Turtles.

Both the design of the Coat of Arms and the flag emerged from an extensive public consultation exercise on Ascension.

Ascension Island has previously flown the Union Flag on Island and on state occasions.

See Also:
Turtles rampant: Ascension’s new coat of arms

Isle of Man work placement for remote island residents

Two residents from one of the most remote group of islands in the world have begun a four-month work placement in the Isle of Man.

Martin and Iris Green have travelled from the volcanic island of Tristan Da Cunha in the south Atlantic ocean.

Each will be given experience of various areas of Manx life which relate to their professions at home.

A government spokesman said the scheme is part of the Isle of Man’s commitment towards international development.

Tristan Da Cunha is a British Overseas Territory located 1,750 miles from South Africa and 1,500 miles from the nearest land mass of St Helena. The volcanic island is accessible only by a seven-day boat journey from Cape Town and has a population of 260.

Mr Green works with the island’s agriculture department and Mrs Green heads up the island’s Post Office and Philatelic Bureau.

‘What’s being done to raise standards?’ asks White Paper critic

The UK’s White Paper on Overseas Territories has failed to set out how the British government will help St Helena reach higher standards, according to one critic.

In a letter to the St Helena Independent, “London Reader” says: “The White Paper shows that the UK Government is not interested in helping St Helena introduce cost-effective, practical or efficient measures designed to encourage good governance, transparency or accountability.

“It would have cost nothing to promise that we would be encouraged to introduce… the various watchdog institutions that are missing from our system.

“This entire paper consists of nothing else than FCO officials patting themselves on the back, quite undeservedly if I may say so.”

See the St Helena Independent to read the letter in full.


UK White Paper seeks stronger bond with Overseas Territories
Prime Minister David Cameron: we’re ambitious for you
White Paper sets out need for openness in government
‘Transparency and scrutiny lead to public trust’

Overseas Territories White Paper

‘Transparency and scrutiny lead to public trust’ – White Paper

Proper scrutiny is vital to good government, says the UK’s 2012 White Paper on the country’s Overseas Territories.

“This important work helps strengthen the people’s trust in government,” it says, “and encourages greater public participation in decision making.”

It also sets out a list of seven principles of public life that are now followed in some Overseas Territories. They form part of the code of practice for legislative councillors on St Helena.

Both official and independent bodies have a part to play “to ensure openness and
transparency and to hold public bodies to account, including auditors and complaints

“The UK Government is supporting the development of these organisations.”

SHG has been asked to set out how its work is scrutinised and made public. It has not responded.

Part of the work of scrutiny is done by the media. The White Paper notes: “The Territories have a free and open press that serves to inform the public and foster debate on issues of policy.

“In recent years there has been an explosion of colourful internet debate and political blogs.”

The Seven Principles of Public Life – from the White Paper

The UK Committee on Standards in Public Life has set out these principles for the benefit of all who serve the public in any way. They have been adopted by many
public bodies in the UK and the Territories.

Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends.

Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might seek to influence them in the performance of their official duties.

In carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders of public office should make choices on merit.

Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.

Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions that they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands.

Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.

Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.


Prime Minister David Cameron: we’re ambitious for you
White Paper sets out need for openness in government

Overseas Territories White Paper

White Paper sets out need for openness in government

St Helena and other far-flung British islands may “have proud traditions of democracy,” but the UK government says it will keep a close watch on standards of governance.

“Public concerns about capacity, transparency and corruption need to be addressed,” says the 2012 White Paper on Overseas Territories.

This comment refers mainly to problems in the Caribbean – especially in the Turks and Caicos Islands, where the democratic government was removed from power – but there are also concerns on St Helena.

A campaign has been started in Jamestown to introduce freedom of information legislation on St Helena. Its supporters include former bishop John Salt.

At the moment, for example, agendas and reports for executive council meetings are not made public in advance. In the UK, local council decisions would have no legal force if that happened.

Councillor Cyril Gunnell attended a conference in London in 2011 on government, accountability and the role of elected representatives. His report is available via the St Helena Government website, here.

The strategy paper gives no detail about how the UK government will ensure the Territories maintain UK standards of governance. It does not say whether it would be willing to intervene.

Andrew Mitchell, the Secretary of State for Overseas Development, said in interview in Swindon in May that it would be desirable for island government to have the same level of openness as UK departments of state, but he said it was for elected councillors to bring that about.

The White Paper also says: “The populated Territories have vibrant democratic traditions.” However, commentators blamed a very low turn-out in St Helena’s last by-election on a lack of public engagement.

“The UK Government has a responsibility for the overall good government of the Territories,” says the White Paper, “and takes a close interest in how territory governments discharge the functions devolved to them.

“Those Territories which choose to remain British should abide by the same basic standards of good government as in the UK.

“The Territories have proud traditions of democracy and respect for human rights. Territory Governments have used their devolved responsibilities to make significant improvements to the quality of life of their people, outperforming comparable independent states.

“But small Territories face particular challenges. It is difficult to maintain all the skills needed to regulate modern economies and meet public expectations for specialist services. It is sometimes difficult to procure good value services.

“The UK Government has a vision of making government work better.

“We want to increase efficiency and effectiveness, ensure public funds are spent wisely, and foster a fairer, more open and mobile society.

“We believe in giving power to people and communities across the UK and the Territories to drive reform. This means strengthening accountability including by making the performance of public bodies and services more transparent.

“We will work with the people, communities and governments of the Territories to realise this vision.”

Overseas Territories White Paper

Prime Minister David Cameron: we’re ambitious for you

The 2012 White Paper on Britain’s overseas territories includes the following message from Prime Minister David Cameron.

The United Kingdom’s 14 Overseas Territories are an integral part of Britain’s life and history. Today they include one of the world’s richest communities (Bermuda) and the most remote community (Tristan da Cunha).

They include thousands of small islands, vast areas of ocean, but also, in Antarctica, land six times the size of the United Kingdom.

Most of the people of the Territories are British and where they choose to remain British we will respect and welcome that choice. The relationship entails a balance of benefits and responsibilities which everyone must respect.

This Government is ambitious for our Territories as we are ambitious for the United Kingdom. We want to see our communities flourish in partnership, with strong and sustainable local economies.

We see an important opportunity to set world standards in our stewardship of the extraordinary natural environments we have inherited.

This White Paper sets out our commitment to work with the Territories to address the challenges we face together. This is a commitment from across the UK Government.

The White Paper also celebrates the diversity, successes and opportunities in the Territories.

2012 is the Centenary of Scott’s heroic journey to the South Pole. It is the 30th Anniversary of the Falklands conflict when so many gave their lives to protect the islanders’ right to choose their own future. It is also Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The Territories are a valued part of the Realm and recently joined in this celebration. It is an ideal time to publish this White Paper and I hope it will raise awareness in the United Kingdom of these British communities, lands and seas around the world.

David Cameron
Prime Minister

UK White Paper seeks stronger bond with Overseas Territories

The UK government says a new strategy paper “renews and strengthens Britain’s relationship with the Overseas Territories.”


However, much of the material in the paper – which runs to over 100 pages, and was due out last month – will already be familiar to people who follow affairs in Britain’s far-flung islands.

For instance, the need to protect the environment is a well-worn theme on St Helena and Saints will have little to learn from the White Paper.

The Foreign Secretary, William Hague, said the policy document “demonstrates the importance the Coalition Government attaches to the Overseas Territories.

“We want the Territories to be vibrant, flourishing communities that proudly retain aspects of their British identity.

“This White Paper is designed to meet these challenges, to set out ways we can support the Territories and strengthen our engagement with them.

“It is another major milestone in our long and shared history, and I hope it will mark a new era of engagement between Britain and the Overseas Territories.”


The paper is 128 pages. I am not alone in finding it extremely disappointing. In my opinion, it provides platitudes instead of leadership.

– London Reader, UK

Prime Minister David Cameron: we’re ambitious for you
White Paper sets out need for openness in government

‘Transparency and scrutiny lead to public trust’ – White Paper
‘What’s being done to raise standards?’ asks White Paper critic
UK offers to help reduce offenders’ risk to island society

Overseas Territories White Paper

Foreign Secretary ‘wants hands-on help for islands’ – report

Britain’s Foreign Secretary is said to want a more hands-on approach to the way the UK deals with its overseas territories, including St Helena.

An early report on a White Paper stategy document – expected to be made public within days – says William Hague wants the territories to benefit from expertise across the entire government, and not just from the FCO and the Department for International Development.

That could mean staff from The Castle in Jamestown being sent to work alongside civil servants in London – with UK officials being sent to St Helena to share skills and gain understanding.

The insight comes from a news agency report from the Caribbean, but St Helena Online understands that changes could still be made to the White Paper before it is officially published – in early July at the latest.

There is no suggestion that the agency report is inaccurate, and indeed, the information reported so far fits with what politicians have already said in public.

The Cayman News Service says the White Paper wants people in the territories to have “the same high standards of governance as in the UK”. That means the same human rights, rule of law and integrity in public life.

A number of people on St Helena commented in a public consultation that was held to guide the new strategy, including the island’s tourism association.

The governor of Anguilla had announced that the paper would be published today, but then UK officials said it would come out later in the week.

The White Paper sets out the UK Government’s intentions towards the overseas territories, which include Gibraltar, Bermuda, Pitcairn, five Caribbean island groups and all the British islands in the South Atlantic.

The Cayman report emphasises a crackdown on corruption – a significant problem in the Caribbean, which led to the elected government of the Turks and Caicos Islands being replaced on orders from London.

The references to territories drawing on expertise from across government accord with a series of statements from various departments in Whitehall, setting out what they do for the territories. Sceptics have suggested some departments have struggled to find anything meaningful to say.

The decision to build an airport on St Helena – the single biggest project on the books of the Department for International Development – is seen as a firm evidence of the coalition government’s wish to have a stronger relationship with the overseas territories.

In the past, there has been criticism that FCO officials were more accustomed to diplomacy work than efficient public administration – meaning they have not been best equipped to run small island governments.

Andrew Gurr’s appointment as St Helena’s previous governor was seen as an attempt to break away from the FCO tradition. In a recent talk to the Friends of St Helena, he spoke of the difference in culture between Foreign Office types and more practically-minded staff from the Department for International Development.

Bringing in experts from other areas of government would raise standards, according to the news agency account.

It quotes William Hague saying: “The UK will provide support to the territories, where necessary, to develop good governance, robust public financial management and sound economic planning. In particular we will support greater exchange of expertise between public servants in the territories and the UK.”

Civil service versus the can-do culture: a governor’s view
Island life is tough, report finds – report on White Paper consultation

UK wants high standards – Cayman News Service