One of the world’s richest men is being asked to come to the aid of one of its poorest – and smallest – island communities.
The mayor of Pitcairn has warned that the island is in danger of becoming unsustainable if its population falls any further. It is home to fewer than 60 people, mostly descended from the famous Bounty mutineers.
But it may be difficult for Warren Buffett to see how he can offer financial advice to the Pacific islanders, given that his expertise is in investment and the tiny British territory doesn’t have a stock market.
Mr Buffett has been invited to attend a conference in August, at the suggestion of the Pitcairn Islands Study Center, part of Pacific Union College in California.
By chance, the centre is only a 16-minute drive from the Napa Valley town that shares its name with another British island – St Helena.
People in the UK who want a stake in St Helena’s future are being urged to turn up to a meeting with the Secretary of State for International Development.
Securing time with Andrew Mitchell at Swindon on 19 May 2012 is something of a coup for the island. It is rare for UK community groups to be given free access to such a high-level figure.
But the event clashes with a talk being given only 30 miles away by former island governor Andrew Gurr, at the Friends of St Helena annual meeting.
Kedell Thomas, St Helena Government’s UK representative, said the clash was unfortunate, but it was the best date for the meeting with Secretary of State because it coincided with a St Helena Day dance in Swindon.
“We have been talking about it for a while and that’s the best chance for him to meet Saints,” she said. “I think he’s really keen to have this meeting.”
Anyone can simply turn up – Saints and non-Saints – but if people can let Kedell know they’re coming it will take some of the guesswork out of the planning.
Mr Mitchell is expected to talk about the airport project and to refer to a White Paper the UK government is preparing on its relationship with its overseas territories.
He is an enthusiast for the role of the private sector in development: he set up a new division within the Department for International Development to encourage private investment in poor countries to generate jobs and trade – a strategy also being pushed on St Helena.
Kedell said it was important that people turned up at the meeting if they wanted to take advantage of the changes the airport might bring to the island. “The message is to encourage Saints to become involved in the island’s future.
“We want Saints to take the opportunity and be part of the new era. The opportunities are there but they might not be there in three or four years’ time because people will have gone in and staked their claim.”
The meeting has been set for 4pm on 19 May, at the Jury’s Inn Hotel in Swindon – chosen because about 800 St Helenians live in the area, and more are expected to travel there for the dance.
The annual general meeting of the Friends of St Helena starts two hours earlier at the University Club in Oxford.
Although the formal part of the meeting is due to end at 2.45pm, it is due to be followed by a presentation of material collected by the late Trevor Hearl, an expert on St Helena affairs.
Andrew Gurr’s presentation – titled “Managing change in St Helena” – is scheduled to run until 5pm.
It may be that on this occasion, it’s the Friends who have to manage change.
Andrew Mitchell MP, Secretary of State for International Development, will be at the Jury’s Inn Hotel, Fleming, Swindon, SN1 2NG on Saturday, 19 May at 4pm. All Saints and those with an interest in St Helena’s development are warmly invited to attend. For further information contact Kedell Worboys, SHG UK Representative on 0203 170 8706 or 07989404654 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Friends of St Helena AGM takes place from 2pm to 5pm at the University Club, 11 Mansfield Road, Oxford OX1 3SZ. From noon, members can visit the Rothermere American Institute to see a small display of Trevor Hearl’s material relating to St Helena. Mr Hearl was an expert on island history, and the library at Prince Andrew School on St Helena was named after him. For information, contact St Helena Online via the link at the top of the page.
The man chosen to be the next governor of Burmuda has been blinded in one eye in a street attack in the UK. A man has been arrested in connection with the assualt in London.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office says George Fergusson, 56, is still planning to take up his post in the British overseas territory in May 2012.
He was mugged on Friday while taking a short cut through Margravine Cemetery and Park, in Hammersmith, west London. He managed to walk to a nearby hospital after the attack, in which he lost a small amount of money.
Mr Fergusson previously served as governor of the Pitcairn Islands in his role as high commissioner to New Zealand.
The flags of Britain’s overseas territories are to feature in the birthday celebrations for Her Majesty the Queen – at the annual Trooping the Colour parade.
The idea was put forward by Andrew Rosindell MP, who said the flags should be displayed in the ceremony at Buckingham Palace and on “all appropriate state occasions”.
Mr Rosindell, chairman of the British Overseas Territories All Party Parliamentary Group, suggested the move during the recent UK government consulation on Britain’s relationship with the overseas territories.
Now a government report says the honour will be granted to islands such as St Helena, and even tiny Pitcairn.
The unnoticed “announcement” has come from The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), in a document about what it does for the overseas territories.
It says: “For the Trooping of the Colour ceremony and other ceremonial occasions, the flags of the Overseas Territories will be flown to bring these territories in line with the Commonwealth Nations.”
That might be seen in some quarters as an admission that the 14 territories have been overlooked in Britain’s national culture.
It’s not clear whether it was Mr Rosindell’s nudge that brought about the honour.
The Queen never missed the Trooping the Colour parade
The Trooping the Colour parade has marked the Sovereign’s official birthday since 1748.
Edward VII began a tradition of taking the Royal salute in person.
The Queen also inspects the troops. Then the Regimental Colour is carried down the ranks, and the Foot Guards, the Household Cavalry, and The King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery, parade past.Her Majesty later joins other members of the Royal Family on the palace balcony for a fly-past by the Royal Air Force.
The Queen has attended Trooping the Colour every year of her reign except 1955, when it was cancelled because of a national rail strike.
The culture department report also says the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations this summer are a chance to “reflect on the cultural ties that link the UK and its Overseas Territories”. It doesn’t say how.
“Many people from the Overseas Territories will be taking part in the celebrations,” it says.
The appearance of Pitcairn’s flag at state occasions might bring a wry smile to the faces of historians who recall how the little community was born in an act of defiance against state authority – the mutiny on The Bounty.
And will the Chagos Islanders will be invited to show their flag, four decades after they were forcibly removed from their homes in the British Indian Ocean Territory to make way for a US air base?
Many died in poverty and despair, and their descendants are still pressing for the right to return. The UK Chagos Association responded to the White Paper consultation on how Britain could improve its support for the territories.