The 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.
Donald – whose brother Brian still lives on St Helena – was one of more than 1,500 people who turned out for the annual UK gathering of Saints and their friends and families.
The organisers have been basking in the success of the event after taking a bold decision to move to a new venue at Reading Abbey Rugby Club.
Vilma Toms, secretary of the St Helena Association, said the high turn-out would mean bigger donations to charities back home.
She said: “It was absolutely brilliant. We had so much positive feedback from everybody.
“First of all, so much more space we had, and the fact that they could party all night should they want to.
“They enjoyed the club house, the disco, everything. It was a real party atmosphere.”
Staff from the rugby club and the inflatable rides were also enthusiastic about the event, said Vilma.
“The bouncy castle people said they’d love to come again because people were friendly and everybody was happy. The people in the rugby club are over the moon. They couldn’t do enough to help us. They just said, ‘The ground is yours, do what you like’.”
There was much more entertainment for children than in previous years, including bouncy castles, an inflatable obstacle course, a rodeo ride, and zorbing – rolling around inside giant transparent balls.
Some of the rides attracted just as many adults as children.
But while the races went ahead as usual – with adults required to run with balloons between their legs in the egg and spoon event – one traditional fixture was missing.
No one was willing to put up a team against the defending tug o’war champions, who were awarded the winners’ crate of beer without having to pull for it.
Perhaps they were all too busy zorbing.
Attendance was up on 2013, with about 1,100 paying adults and an estimated 500 children.
“More people were camping as well, so the party atmosphere started on Saturday and carried all the way through until three o’clock on Monday morning,” said Vilma.
Nick Stevens, who had travelled to the UK with the island’s Commonwealth Games team, manned the Enterprise St Helena stall, encouraging Saints to consider returning home to help build a new economy.
In the case of Pamela Ward Lees, departing chair of the Friends of St Helena, no persuasion was needed: she and partner Andy were at the sports to say farewell to friends before heading out to settle in Longwood (and make cakes).
The event itself took place in brilliant sunshine, but those who stayed on until bank holiday Monday had to take their tents down in heavy rain.
Hundreds of pictures were posted on Facebook by Paul George and official photographers Jessica Osborne and Emily Braden.
The association is supporting the same island charities as last year, including the arts and crafts group, the family support group and Father Dale Bowers’ fund for vulnerable people.
Ronnie Benjamin Joshua: What an absolutely fantastic bank holiday weekend!!! Thank you all, a whole bunch of lovely family and friends in one place!
David Peters: What a great day on Sunday. Reading sports day was fantastic. Many thanks to the organisers St Helena Association for a great job and great venue. Clean toilets, plenty of parking, friendly staff, and most of all, so good to see so many familiar faces. It’s like a day of an analogue version of Facebook. Thanks for re-uniting us with long lost friends and relatives.
Patrick George: Thank you St Helena Association for making it all happen. I know a lot of blood, sweat, tears and possibly sleepless nights went into the preparation. It was my first time ever and I feel like I made history for myself. Met old school friends, family and people I didn’t know except they knew my late parents Eric and Ivy George.
Monica Yon: I would like to say a huge thank you to the St Helena Association for all their hard work and making such a wonderful entertaining day for all of us. I thoroughly enjoyed it and meeting everyone, well most people as I miss so many I would have love to chat and laugh with. Such a lovely turn-out too, and great location. Thank you.
Carryn Jones: Another fantastic weekend that was well worth the long drive from Aberdeen. Love the new venue!! Thoroughly enjoyed catching up with friends and family.
Ursula Harris: I would like to say a MASSIVE THANK YOU to the St Helena Association for all the hard work that went into organising another memorable Sports Day.
Rio Duncan-Prasetyo: Thank you for an awesome long weekend! The foods, music, sports, hospitality….and the weather (how lucky). The committee are friendly, helpful and hard working. The Reading Rugby club staff – thank you so much for welcoming us.
Joanne Tori Bowers: Had a wonderful day at Reading Sport. St Helena Association always do their best to make our sports day special and great job for making everyone come together. Unfortunately that was my last sports day but it has been really good for all the years I have been going and good luck in future (Joanne is returning home).
Trevor Toms: Big thanks to the few people who help us – Renee and Rio Prasetyo and Larry Hudson for running the sports events – what a brilliant job they did. Thanks also to Felicity Walters, Darlene Peters, Lorraine Duncan and Pat Harris for helping us on the day. Special thanks to James Miller for all his help and enthusiasm. Grateful thanks also to Leon Miller for all his help. Thanks to Phil and Paul for the entertainment on Saturday night, and to Phil for the amazing disco on Sunday night – loved the lights and the smoke – cool!!. Thanks to the Brooks Brothers and Sawdust for giving us great entertainment in the clubhouse.
When Elsa Green returned to St Helena after 62 years of living abroad, she might have expected a fairly quiet homecoming – but for a highly unlikely encounter on the airwaves.
A local paper in England, the Newbury Weekly News, tells of the chain of events that led to her arrival in Jamestown being greeted with full media coverage on Saint FM Community Radio.
Mrs Green’s son-in-law, Adrian Martin, is the paper’s managing director. He mentioned to his chairman, Jeremy Willis, that she was returning to the island. Mr Willis is an amateur radio enthusiast; he was on the air the next day, and by chance, in “rather unusual weather conditions”, he picked up a contact from St Helena.
Island radio operator Bruce Salt told him Mrs Green was arriving on the island that very day – and alerted producers at Saint FM Community Radio, who followed up the story.
Read the full saga in the Newbury Weekly News: http://goo.gl/PD4oY9
(With thanks to Guy Gatien in California for drawing attention to the story)
New medical charges on St Helena mean UK visitors must pay 2,000 per cent more than islanders for dental care.
The cost of a consultation for expats from the UK will rise by 150%, from £21 to £52.50. Expats from non-UK countries already pay the higher rate.
Tourists should be covered by travel insurance.
Prescription fees for St Helenians will go up by 12.5% when the new charges come in on 1 July 2012, from £1.75 to £2.00.
St Helena Government (SHG) says the increases will help to fund subsidised care for Saints on lower incomes. The island’s average salary has been quoted at just £4,000 a year.
But island commentator John Turner says the new charges “intentionally discriminate against contractors working here… unless they work for SHG.”
He cites the two levels of charges:
group 1 includes Saints who are normally resident on St Helena, the Falklands or Ascension. They will be entitled to heavily subsidised care;
group 2 is “everybody else” – liable to be charged the full cost of their care.
But he says expats working for SHG will pay the same rates as islanders. “SHG has taken aim at the private sector,” says John – who came to the island as the first bank manager but how has St Helenian status.
The Health and Social Welfare Directorate said its review of costs “was to ensure a balanced service from 1 July 2012, with those on lower incomes not being excluded from medical or dental care because of costs, and those who are able to pay for these services paying.”
SHG says doubling charges for UK residents is “simpler”.
It says that despite the increase, “each prescription continues to be subsided by over 50%, with the average cost of a prescription actually being £4.72 per item.
“Persons currently exempt from paying medical fees and charges are not affected by these increases.”
Random Thoughts From Offshore – John Turner’s blog
Existing fees for UK visitors
Existing frees for visitors not from the UK
Existing fees for St Helenians – not currently available on the SHG website (20 June 2012).
Kedell Worboys, the UK representative for St Helena Government, has given a speech at a reception in London to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. It dealt with issues facing the UK overseas territories and various Members of Parliament and Peers were present at the Speaker’s house to hear what she had to say.
A number of St Helenian students were invited to the event but only one – Casey Gough, who’s doing a university access course – was able to attend.
St Helenians Stacey Thomas and Laura Lawrence were among crowds who turned out in Hitchin, in the UK, to see Her Majesty the Queen on a Jubilee year visit. See their picture gallery on Facebook, here.