With less than six months to go until the Bicentenary weekend (22-25 October 2015), plans to mark the occasion on Ascension Island are taking shape.
Following consultation with island representatives and a public vote, a logo for the Ascension200 celebrations has been chosen. The logo, which takes the shape of the island, features the Union flag to indicate 200 years of British sovereignty. Although Ascension Island was discovered by the Portuguese in 1501, it was not inhabited until it was claimed by the British Navy on 22 October 1815. A garrison was established to prevent the defeated Napoleon escaping from St Helena.
The Administrator, Marc Holland, commented, “The Bicentenary is an opportunity for us to celebrate what has been achieved so far and commit to continuing to develop the island for the benefit of all”. This was endorsed by the Bicentenary Co-Ordinator, Glenda Schutgens – “We can celebrate the ingenuity and hard work that has made this island what it is today. We can also celebrate what this island means to us. How often will we have the chance to be so closely involved in and be able to shape a world event?”.
This Bicentenary year will see the completion of a number of structural projects, chosen to protect our built and cultural heritage as well as to improve the quality of life of Ascension’s residents today. There will be new equipment for the children’s playground in Georgetown and plans have been made for the creation of a small park behind the iconic former Exiles Club building. It is also hoped that the island can raise funds to repair the clock of the Exiles Club and make use of passing military labour to repair the breached wall of the Turtle Ponds. Jane Murray-Stringer, heading up the structural Bicentenary projects, said “Both of these sites represent a key part of our island history and it is a fitting tribute to the hard work of those who have lived and worked on Ascension in the last 200 years that we do what we can to protect them for the enjoyment of future generations. AIG would like to thank Lieutenant Clegg and 69 Ghurkha Field Squadron who visited in April and started work on repairing the Turtle Ponds, as well as a number of other projects around the island. We hope to welcome them back later in 2015”.
A series of events are being organised to celebrate the Bicentenary and to generate a coming together of all parts of the Ascension Island community. These include, but are not limited to, a Bicentenary Ball, football competition, chilli cook-off, skittles competition and a live music festival. In the words of the Bicentenary Co-Ordinator – “I want Ascension200 to be part of the history of this community, my community”.
For more information relating to the Bicentenary and Ascension200 celebrations please phone Glenda on 6153 or email her.