St Helena Online

Tag: St Helena

saintel

Saintel the ISP on St Helena post fibre optic cable delivery

saintel

‘Saintel’ St Helena’s new potential internet service and communication provider announced this week that they are launching their new business venture as an Island wide Internet service provider tailored for the future needs of St Helena.

The Wireless thinking provider has promised that everyone from residential to business users on St Helena will benefit from the 21st century capability that is due for rollout in 2023 providing they can get the government’s approval to deliver the service.

The question you might ask as a local internet user or visitor returning to St Helena in the future is what is going to be different about Saintel.

Forward thinking and long-time campaigner of internet connectivity to St Helena Christian von der Ropp together with Karl Thrower, a local business owner here on St Helena, who is behind the Saintel venture have set up the provider to operate as a non-profit organisation.

Saintel’s vision is to offer eighty percent of the Islands population the option to connect to the Saintel wireless high speed network within the first 12 months, they are also keen to share their network capability with international tech companies who want to trial and develop other technologies within the industry.

Some of Saintel’s published business objectives once the fibre optic cable is connected to St Helena are:

  • To provide affordable, reliable, high speed access to residential and businesses users on St Helena through a non-profit entity.
  • Support the Island community, embracing the digital transformation.
  • Help to mitigate the issues arising from St Helena‘s remoteness through the many new possibilities offered by the Internet.
  • Increase digital literacy and develop local skill sets through the correct training in digital technology.
  • Stop capital outflow (a key economic problem here on St Helena) caused by monopolist‘s dividend payments to its overseas parent. Instead, help to create more local circulation of money
  • Support the global Information and Communications Technology industry to trial new technologies, applications and products.
  • Collaborate with potential satellite earth station operators (infrastructure sharing) to unlock synergies and make St Helena more attractive to earth station operators.

Saintel will be incorporated under the laws of St Helena as a non-profit Private Limited Company by Guarantee. Saintel’s vision is to enable one of the most isolated communities in the world to join the global Information Society and to leapfrog into the broadband age and contribute to closing St Helena‘s digital divide.

Saintel’s plan or the market entry  of any another communications service provider on St Helena will only be possible if SHG allow competition by removing the exclusivity clause provided in Sure’s current license

Note the current exclusive public telecommunications licence with Sure SA Ltd will expire at the end on 31 December 2022, so no new provider could start operation before 2023

St Helena Government is in the process of a tender process to determine the next Public Electronic Communication Networks and Services provider/s for the Island.

St Helena online welcome any thoughts on expectations as a customers post fibre optic cable delivery on St Helena.  

Libby Weir Breen

Goodbye St Helena and Goodbye Island holidays

After 33 years of selling Island Holidays and selling St Helena as a destination to tourist worldwide, the owner Libby Weir Breen of the Scottish based, Island holiday company has announced that Island Holidays will cease trading on the 31st July 2020.

Libby who made over 16 trips to St Helena mentioned in her goodbye message that over the years many thousands had entrusted island holidays with their dreams and travel plans.

Jonathan the Tortoise
Libby & Jonathan

In speaking to Libby she said It’s also been a privilege to work with so many amazing people from all over the world including St Helena who was outstanding and care so deeply for their environment and their wildlife.

Incidentally Libby was on a tourist visit to St Helena in March 2020 and was actually on St Helena when the COVID-19 pandemic sweep the world causing disruptions to travel and her final St Helena trip that was so well planned she had to leave the Island without a farewell celebration,

Libby chatted with the St Helena podcast host recalling her 33 years of travel which focused mainly on her visit to the South Atlantic Island of St Helena, including Ascension and the Falkland Islands. During the podcast Libby talked about how it all began, her sea travel experience on board the RMS St Helena, her trip on the very first commercial flight to St Helena, and also her final visit on St Helena during the COVID19 pandemic.

The podcast is available on the St Helena podcast website www.thesthelenapodcast.com and also available on Spotify, via Apple and google podcast.

Island wide petition decision to sort out fishing business on St Helena

St Helena’s Commercial Fisherman’s Association (SHCFA) has decided that it is now time to launch an Island wide petition with the intention of overturning and terminating the current process involving PQ Trading (SHG’s preferred investor to process fish on St Helena) and to call for an open and transparent process that ensures the security of all local fishermen both now and into St Helena’s fishing future.

This statement was released from the Fishermen’s Association as a result of a press release from the St Helena Government stating that in no uncertain terms the much awaited yellowfin and bigeye tuna total allowable catch Limits (TAC’s) have now been set and they have been set for the preferred bidder’s proposed Co-Op.

The St Helena Fisherman’s Association is frustrated as it appears that the external investor will be handed the Island’s only fish processing factory to include a large sum of tax payer’s money (that was allocated from SHG’s consolidated fund) to refurbish the fish factory for their operations, and now they are being allocated seemingly the entire allocation of yellowfin and bigeye tuna quota.

The Association also drew attention to the fact that the catch limits table for St Helena’s fishery was presented to the Economic Development Committee (EDC) on Thursday, 09th July seeking approval.  Interestingly however, it was made very clear by the Chair of EDC  at the beginning of this meeting that the total allowable catch limits for yellowfin and bigeye tuna would not be discussed as approval for these species had been established during the Executive Council meeting two days before.   Three committee members of EDC disputed this position, as they felt they were being asked to approve the table in its entirety and therefore had difficulty accepting that species included, would not form part of their decision making process.  This discontent presented them with the opportunity to ask a number of questions of the two Government Officers presenting the documentation who were the Director for Environment Natural Resources and Planning Directorate and the  Marine Conservation Officer.   

It was thought that some of the answers given were unsatisfactory and not well-founded, giving way for additional questions to be asked, which resulted  in EDC not being confident that the catch limits being presented was adequate or feasible.

The Association was appalled by the lack of proficiency shown and evidence presented at a time when decisions were being sought, which they believed to be totally unacceptable, especially when during the final stages of the meeting it was announced by the Chair of the Economic Development Committee that works towards finalising the Co-Op was in an “advance stage”. 

Tuna St Helena

As a result, following this meeting the SHCFA committee held a meeting with their members to provide them with an update on events unfolding, decisions that have recently been taken and an overview of the EDC meeting.  From this feedback it was unanimously decided that an island wide petition should be launched to call for the termination of the current process to take place which ensures that the security of every local fisherman both now and into the future.  The Association will also be asking that scientific advice designed to help achieve sustainability will actually be followed to ensure that the development of a ‘Brand St Helena’ is done so with integrity.   

Who is PQ Trading ?

 PQ Trading (STH) is now a St Helenian registered business. The directors are Johan-Marais Bezuidenhout and his father Johann Bezuidenhout. Johan-Marais Bezuidenhout started working in the fisheries in 1999, first in Plettenburg Bay for a Spanish Fish Exporter, followed by a position in South Africa’s biggest fish producing company, thereafter owning and operating a fish exporting company.

Is PQ Trading a long term investor?

PQ trading is a long term investor and is planning to build a profitable and sustainable fishing industry for St Helena.

.

More information here on the preferred investor to undertake fish processing

St Helena football team

Team effort to get a St Helena Football team to 2021 Inter-Island Games

Its less than a year away and the St Helena Football Association is planning to enter a St Helena football team into the NatWest International Island Games which are scheduled held in Guernsey next July (2021). To facilitate getting a team to the games, the Association needs to raise sufficient funding to enable the team to participate.

Last year the Association successfully raised £70,000 for the St Helena International Football Team to attend the Inter-Island Games Tournament in Ynys Mon, Wales. Despite the results not going in favor of the team, it was a great leap forward for the development of football on St Helena and also provided the incentive for youngsters on St Helena as more junior age children are now expressing an interest in junior football.

When asked what was the biggest challenge to get the team to games Nick Stevens from the St Helena Association said “it was the cost of flights to and from the Island as well as the accommodation cost remembering that the team needs to depart a week prior to the games and also they have to travel back a week after the event to meet the weekly flight schedules but also factoring in any delays in the process”.

St Helena football team
St Helena’s football team departing for the Inter Island games in North Wales

Planning is in progress to raise funds with several events scheduled on Island over the coming months. A Port to Port event is planned for the 31 August which is a sponsored walk from the St Helena Airport to Rupert’s Bay. This is a 14 km walk that is open to everyone. A 12-hour musical Extravaganza is also planned for the Friday 28th August at the Seafront in Jamestown.    There is also a raffle coming soon with the first prize been a brand new Sym Scooter.

The St Helena Association is keen to hear from anyone that has any great ideas to share that will help raise funds to help to get the team to the games again next year which not only contributes and improves Island football as a sport on the island but also exposes the visibility of St Helena as an Island on a stage that captures many football fans imagination and in the global media.

You might ask how can I help towards getting the St Helena team to the games?  You can donate here at the St Helena Football Association Go Fund Me page or at the very least please share this post with others via your social media platforms, so together we can help the organizers and St Helena achieve another goal in these testing times.

Sat ground Station St Helena

Could this OneWeb news be great news for St Helena

This could be great news for St Helena as OneWeb, the UK satellite company that declared bankruptcy in late March 2020, was  the company that had committed to establish a major ground station on St Helena, will very likely be acquired by a consortium led by Indian Bharti Enterprises and the UK Government following an auction held in New York yesterday: https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-53279783

Particularly since the new plan is to add a GPS-like capability to some of the satellites, whose primary purpose is still the provision of global broadband Internet, it appears highly likely that OneWeb will revive its plans for a ground station on St Helena. The plans for the navigation capability come in response to both, the UK’s exclusion from the European Galileo system due to Brexit, and the increasing jamming and spoofing threats all existing satellite navigation systems are exposed to.

St Helena could play an even more major important role for this navigation capability as it will require precise timing facilities on the ground that synchronize with the satellites. Such are preferably located in safe territory like would be the case for the overseas territories. For Galileo such a ground station was established in the Falklands but had to be decommissioned because of Brexit.

The UK government website also confirms this news, that they lead a successful bid to acquire the cutting edge satellite technology company OneWeb today on their website  https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-government-to-acquire-cutting-edge-satellite-network

This move signals the UK government’s ambition for the UK to be a pioneer in the research, development, manufacturing, and exploitation of novel satellite technologies through the ownership of a fleet of Low Earth orbit satellites.

Photo credit to earthstation.sh you can read more about earth station St Helena here 

Depths of emotion: divers say a damp goodbye to the RMS (and they took their own ‘prop’ for the picture)

It seemed there was no part of the RMS St Helena that went celebrated during the ship’s final visit home. Not even the propellers. A few members of St Helena Dive Club slipped below the surface and gave them one last “inspection” before the ship’s last scheduled departure. Having checked, of course, that the blades would not suddenly start turning while they were down there. It was, said club secretary Sam Cherrett, “pretty damn cool.”
Click to see a larger image
Click to see a larger image

Captain Adam Williams allowed the club a two-hour slot between ship operations on the afternoon of Thursday 8 February 2018, in recognition of past services. Sam said: “Some of the dive club members have been involved in prop inspections over the years, and this was a final ‘thank you and goodbye RMS’ before she left here.” A guide rope was attached to one of the blades for safety. “We had a few nervous people – some novices – and 60 metres of water below, plus a bit of current,” said Sam. “We had some shoals of fish come in occasionally too.” A large St Helena flag was unfurled underwater for photographs, and then it was back to the surface.”We were very privileged,” said Sam.

See also: 
A true St Helenian farewell’: RMS St Helena departs on final voyage from her home island

‘A true St Helenian farewell’: RMS St Helena departs on final voyage.

Picture courtesy of St Helena Government
Picture courtesy of St Helena Government

Some watched from the quayside, and some climbed to the high ground to watch the RMS St Helena steam across James Bay and out towards the horizon, for what everyone thought would be the last time. It didn’t turn out that way. Just when everyone was coming down from two days of high emotion in Jamestown, the news came through that the ship had turned around. There was an emergency on board, its nature not disclosed. Few wanted to see the RMS sail away after 27 years service; few would have wanted to see her return in such circumstances. It would be the briefest of return visits.

Picture courtesy of St Helena Government
Picture courtesy of St Helena Government

Friday 9 February 2018, the day before the intended final departure, had been declared a public holiday by the governor, Lisa Phillips – who had been aboard the RMS for the ship’s final voyage to Tristan da Cunha a few weeks earlier. But celebrations of the ship’s significance to the island had already begun with a church service earlier in the week, at which Captain Adam Williams returned a Bible that had been presented to the first RMS St Helena many years before. There followed, on Friday and Saturday, “a true St Helenian style programme of farewell events,” as Kerisha Stevens put it in the report from The Castle.

Picture by Delphia Leo
Picture by Delphia Leo

Flags hung from the cranes on the wharf, there was a fancy hat competition – judged by Governor Phillips in a red and blue creation of her own. And there was cake, crafted in the shape of the ship by former crew member Steve Yon, and shared among the crowd.

An open day was held on the ship on the Friday morning. For those who could not get tickets, Saint FM broadcast a live programme from the deck. Who knew there were so many songs about farewells?

Picture courtesy of St Helena Government
Picture courtesy of St Helena Government

In a speech on the Friday evening, Governor Phillips pondered what people would want her to say.

“I think it would be that the RMS St Helena has been as much a part of the island as the island is a part of the RMS. She has been Intricately woven into the lives of all St Helenians wherever they are in the world.”

There would be thank-yous, and many of them: for babies brought home, for families reunited, and potatoes delivered (though more potatoes would have been good).

The highlight, though, said Kerisha, “was the evening performance by the RMS Amateur Dramatics Society as they performed their Final Act of Stupidity much to the crowd’s delight.

“A firework display and release of lanterns rounded off the evening.”

Picture courtesy of St Helena Government
Picture courtesy of St Helena Government

On Saturday morning, the crew of the RMS led uniformed groups in a parade from The Canister to the seafront, watched by a large crowd. And on the Landing Steps, a white “paying off” pennant was presented by Kedell Warboys MBE, director of the St Helena Line, to Captain Adam Williams, its newest captain.

The pennant was 27 feet long – one foot for every year of the ship’s service.

On the rocks above the wharf, in island tradition, the fire service had “updated” a farewell message, originally painted in 1989 by a young Dale Bowers – now Father Dale – in 1989. The earlier message was written at the request of a councillor to mark the final departure of the first RMS St Helena; it just needed refreshing, and the addition of the date – 2018.

The fire service artists were roped up, but young Dale had no such safety measures. He was dangled over the edge and painted the letters on freehand. As he told Sharon Henry of What The Saints Did Next, he was used to coping with upside-down writing, because he worked in the printing office.

Picture courtesy of St Helena Government
Picture courtesy of St Helena Government

When the time came for departure, a flotilla of boats, including lighters, yachts and jet skis, encircled the ship. The fire & rescue service saluted her with a water arch, fired from one of the floating pontoons normally used to carry cargo between ship and shore. Passengers looking down from the decks could see a rainbow formed in the spray. 

They had had to go aboard several hours early because a day’s delay to the weekly flight from South Africa meant the customs service had to process all the ship’s passengers before going up to the airport. But they had a close-up view when dozens of red, white and blue balloons were released into the sky after being held down in the ship’s tiny (and otherwise empty) swimming pool.

The anchor hauled up, the RMS made her way to Buttermilk Point, turned around and steamed past the harbour in full dress.

Picture courtesy of St Helena Government
Picture courtesy of St Helena Government

Around the world, many St Helenians watched video footage of the weekend’s events to keep them in touch with what Jackie Stevens called “the saddest day on St Helena, the Final Farewell of our lifeline to our home.”Spectacular footage of the ship sailing, and the wake of the flotilla of following vessels, can be seen on the St Helena Phantom View page on Facebook.

Picture courtesy of St Helena Government
Picture courtesy of St Helena Government

On Facebook, Catherine Turner thanked the RMS “and her wonderful crew.”

“You are the rhythm we live our lives by, time measured in ship-cycles. You have been our lifeline and link to family and friends for so long.”

And Paul Blake wrote: “I just have to say that today has been one if those days that you were glad to say you were there. As promised I shed a tear or two for you that could not be on island in this special day as the RMS upped anchor shortly after 4pm.

“But what a sight she was, speeding across James Bay towards Lemon Valley. Something unique.”

Like many others, he headed to vantage points across the island to watch the ship round South West Point and pass below Sandy Bay before turning sharply for The Cape.

“Goodbye old lady,” he wrote. “Remembering memories sailing away.”

  • This was not the first “farewell voyage” that had not turned out quite as expected. In 2016, a last voyage was made to the UK in anticipation of the ship’s retirement from island service, with the new airport opening for scheduled flights. The airport did not open, and the ship stayed in service. Island broadcaster Tony Leo was on board and made a film of the voyage that captured the working life of the ship and its traditions. One of those featured was Adam Williams, who would soon become the third St Helenian Master of the RMS St Helena, and the person who would skipper the ship when she sailed away for the last time.

Read more:

Tony’s video tribute to the RMS St Helena
Last Biscay boogie as ship leaves the UK – personal memories of sailing on the RMS

DFID accused as ‘broken spending promise’ leaves island unable to heal ‘weeping sores’ and end dependence on aid

St Helena’s paymasters in Britain have been accused by councillors of breaking their funding promises in the wake of the airport opening. Dr Corinda Essex said that with no investment agreed for the island from January 2018, its failing facilities were becoming “weeping sores”.

Another scandal could blow up after the British government insisted on building a wharf in Rupert’s Bay that could not be used, she warned.

And money was needed for a new prison to end human rights failures, she said. Councillor Derek Thomas called the Jamestown prison “a disaster waiting to happen”.

He reported that Andrew Mitchell, who had signed off the contract to build the airport when he was international development secretary, was “livid” to see the island held back by unkept funding pledges.

The Hon. Lawson Henry said ministers were more interested in protecting officials whose blunders left the island without an air service for more than a year.

The accusations were made during a legislative council debate initiated by Dr Essex on Tuesday.

Councillors unanimously agreed to record their “grave concerns relating to the continuing absence of an agreed capital investment programme to address the essential development needs of St Helena after 1 January 2018.”

Several said they would spell out the island’s “critical” situation in a video conference due to take place later in the week with a minister at the Department for International Development (DFID).

Councillors referred several times to promises that DFID would continue to fund investment after the airport was built, to enable the island to build a tourism-based economy.

But more than one councillor said DFID now appeared to be reluctant to keep its promise – possibly because of damaging media coverage of the airport failures.

Opening the debate, Dr Essex said the situation was unacceptable. “How can St Helena be expected to develop and move forward without the capital injection to do so?

“As we look around us, the urgent need for such investment is blindingly obvious.

“We know we have a prison that is not human rights compliant. Yet when it comes to obtaining funding to build a new prison our hands are tied.”

She also cited the jetty at Rupert’s Bay – funded by DFID – which needs to be protected from rock falls before it can be fully used.

“There is a real risk the British press will be able to call the jetty a white elephant with a lot more justification than underpinned their condemnation of the airport, which caused such a sharp reaction in high places in the British government.”

Other councillors said DFID had pressured St Helena Government (SHG) into dropping its plans to improve the wharf at Jamestown, despite being warned of the problems.

St Helena facilities across the island were “inadequate and crumbling”, Dr Essex said.

Deteriorating roads could not cope with the growing traffic, and there were “critical issues” with sewerage, including the Jamestown outfall. House building was being held up because there was not enough money to put in services at the development areas.

DFID had previously advocated a “spend now to save later” policy, said Dr Essex.”It appears there is now a u-turn in their thinking.

“A number of Saints have made significant investments on which they are waiting to receive some return.

“The British government is always urging us to reduce our dependence but how can they expect us to do so without the required resources to address key issues that are becoming weeping sores, undermining sustainable development?”

The Hon. Derek Thomas said a 32-page economic strategy issued by DFID talked about global challenges but made no mention of UK overseas territories, “so you can see we are being left out.”

“Now we are being set up to fail.”

The Hon. Lawson Henry said attitudes changed when “the airport did not deliver on time” because officials did not follow consultants’ advice to conduct test flights to check the alignment of the runway.

“What DFID has done throughout the last 18 months is to protect those who were responsible for making the decisions that were not in keeping with the feasibility study,” he said.

“Everything about St Helena now has to pass what civil servants call the Daily Mail test. The publicity the Daily Mail has given to the St Helena airport has caused huge reputational damage.

“The British public is clearly upset by the publicity. They don’t want foreign aid to be spent on St Helena any more.”

He said a former minister had admitted he preferred to see money spent on his own constituents.

“We did not create this situation,” he said. “We are the victims in this case.”

He said he was convinced from his recent visit to Westminster that “the minister responsible for St Helena is not fully aware of the issues or serious infrastructure requirements that are needed on the island.”

The minister needed to visit to see for himself, he said.

  • Councillors’ video conference with DFID minister Lord Bates took place on Thursday morning. SHG said it was a private meeting and it would not be releasing details of the discussion.

Same-sex marriage approved for St Helena: opponent calls for society to embrace the result

Marriage between same-sex couples has been approved by St Helena’s legislative council by nine votes to two – meaning weddings could take place within weeks.

Rainbow island graphic by John Turner
Rainbow island graphic by John Turner

The Honourable Cyril Leo warned of a “deep divide” on the island and said he feared a negative reaction from “homophobic elements” in society.

But he said people should embrace the outcome of democratic debate. Councillors should “make love our greatest quest,” he said.

The Hon. Kylie Hercules, supporting the Marriage Bill, said: “We are dealing with people’s lives and emotions.”

And the Hon. Christine Scipio-o’Dean said: “We cannot discriminate. We must not, and we must strive to ensure equality.”

The Hon. Anthony Green explained that an attempt to present the same bill to the previous legislative council in 2016 had faltered.

A legal challenge to the existing marriage law – passed in 1851 – was due to be heard in the Supreme Court in January 2018 and could be appealed all the way to the Privy Council in London – a process that could take years.

“This law is silent on whether marriage between two persons of the same gender is permissible,” he said.

Barristers from the UK were on standby to represent various parties.

He said that denying same-sex couples the same marriage rights as other people would breach their human rights under the St Helena Constitution.

Cyril Leo and Brian Isaac were the only councillors to vote against the bill becoming law. Dr Corinda Essex abstained.

She said she knew her view would be controversial. “I have no objection to same-sex relationships and indeed I respect them,” she said. “I know a number of people who have entered into them. I am no way homophobic in any respect.

“However I believe that can be achieved through civil partnership.”

She added: “I believe very strongly that marriage was ordained not just in the Christian faith but in all the [main] faiths of the world… [as being] between a man and a woman.”

But she said the public had now had a proper chance to express their views and understand the issue – referring to a series of consultation meetings, and two petitions for and against same-sex marriage.

She said: “The number signing the two petitions was very similar. I had a lot of people lobbying me and saying we have serious concerns about this bill being passed. I do agree that the rights of minorities are important.

“But let us not deceive ourselves that the decision we make is going to be popular whichever way it goes because it is still an extremely emotive and sensitive topic on the island.

“We do need to be aware that worldwide, attitudes are changing and moving forward and we need to be more open minded. … and put our personal views aside and consider the bigger picture.

“As a result of that I will not be opposing the bill.”

The Hon. Brian Isaac said there other issues that caused distress to people on the island and deserved to be given higher priority.

The European Court of Human Rights had already declared that civil unions fully protected the rights of same-sex couples so there was no need for same-sex marriage, he said.

And he pointed out that members of the parliament on Bermuda, another UK overseas territory, had just voted to rescind a law allowing same-sex marriage. St Helena should look to the reasons they had done that, he said.

The Hon. Cruyff Buckley said he was a Christian but supported a change in the law. “This bill ushers in a new level of respect for minority groups,” he said.

The Hon. Derek Thomas said he was one of the councillors who blocked the progress of the bill a year ago because too few members of the public had expressed a view on it. The public had now had a fair say and he saw no justification for objecting.

The Hon. Lawson Henry said the St Helena Constitution – the supreme law of any country – guaranteed protection of equal rights.

“It is simply about equality,” he said “If this house cannot uphold the constitution then why are we here today, and why do we have a constitution? This bill has never been about religion, it is about equality and protection of minority groups.”

Many members sitting round the table had supported human rights legislation, “but some of them seem not to have supported equality,” he said.

He also warned St Helena Government would face heavy costs in the courts if the bill was rejected, and the island’s reputation would be damaged.

“We are a fledgling economy that has just gone into a new form of access,” he said, referring to the opening of the island’s airport.

“People who would like to visit this island will be looking at things like this. If they feel this is an island that can’t uphold its constitution [it] will cause more damage.”

The courts could nullify the existing marriage law and criticise the legislative council because members “can’t protect minority groups under our own constitution.”

Anthony Green, closing the debate, dismissed the reference to Bermuda. “We do not follow the Bermuda constitution,” he said. “We have our own constitution.” He praised Cyril Leo’s call for people to embrace the decision.

Governor Lisa Phillips will now be asked to ratify the bill and make it law, giving people on St Helena the same rights as same-sex couples on Ascension, Tristan da Cunha and most other UK overseas territories outside the Caribbean.

Speaking later in the traditional adjournment debate, Lawson Henry said it was a great day for St Helena.

St Helena’s 2017 Marriage Bill does not compel ministers to marry same-sex couples if it conflicts with religious doctrine. It also deals with other aspects of marriage law, including allowing weddings to take place outside places of worship.

St Helena’s airport: a boon-what? We’re boggled…

It took a week for Donald Trump’s favourite news outlet to get round to reporting on the first commercial flight to St Helena. But when it did so, Fox News introduced an interesting new word for the airport project.

It said it was “condemned last year by British taxpayers as a boondoggle.”

Various online dictionaries define a boondoggle as an American word meaning a pointless, wasteful project. Fox News might (not) like to put that to Governor Lisa Phillips, and see if she has another good word for them.

Urbandictionary.com helpfully gives an example of the correct use of the word:

“You’re such a Boondoggle, all you like to do is drink urine while staring at the dead corpse of your grandma.”

It’s also what American boy scouts use to hold their neckerchiefs in place. British scouts call this a woggle, another term that doesn’t really describe an airport.

The Fox News piece actually offers some good insights into St Helena life and heritage, including the wrangling over whether jury trials can ever work on the island.

It opens by listing some of the quirky place names to be found on St Helena, including The Gates of Chaos (that one’s always seemed apt) and Old Woman’s Valley.

They’re a lot more sensible than “boondoggle”.

If they wanted quirky place names, why no mention of Half Tree Hollow – which isn’t hollow, and doesn’t have half a tree?

(Does anyone know how Half Tree Hollow got its name? Maybe it was the half-tree that was hollow?).

Facebook