Category: Government

Commonwealth Walkway Unveiled on Ascension Island

Ascension Island today celebrated the opening of its Commonwealth Walkway around Georgetown. The Commonwealth Walkway is a 7 km pathway connecting 10 of Georgetown’s historical highlights which can be enjoyed as a continuous route over a couple of hours or in sections.

img_20160918_144011589

The Walkway begins outside the AIG Government offices and is marked by a plaque and a panel showing the route and giving historical context to the points along the Walkway. These points of interest can be explored in more detail by downloading full details of the route from The Outdoor Trust (paper copies also available from the Ascension Island Conservation Office).

The Walkway was officially opened by Captain of the RMS St Helena, Captain Rodney Young, at an opening ceremony attended by representatives of the Heritage Society and members of the community. The Administrator, Marc Holland, also made a short speech, encouraging locals and tourists alike to explore the Walkway. The Administrator paid special thanks to Hugo Vickers and Jim Walker of the Outdoor Trust for approaching Ascension with the great idea in the first place and the Ascension Heritage Society, in particular Helen Scott and Drew Avery, for their full support, including raising funds for the project and helping to arrange today’s ceremony.

img_20160918_143826834

img_20160918_142248159

The project has been made possible through the support of the Ascension Island Heritage Society and the Ascension Island Government and is the brainchild of The Outdoor Trust. Her Majesty The Queen has given The Outdoor Trust permission to create walkways in cities throughout the Commonwealth, marked with Her personal Royal cypher. The Trust plans to create 100 new walkways in the main towns and cities of the Commonwealth’s 71 nations and territories in the next four years. The first Commonwealth Walkway was opened in Windsor in November 2015.

The Commonwealth Walkways will be within reach of two billion people and all will be dedicated to The Queen’s unfailing service and leadership as Head of the Commonwealth for more than 65 years. The Walkways will thread together 3,000 of the most significant highlights of the Commonwealth and each will be marked permanently with a large bronze plaque displaying The Queen’s personal EIIR Royal cypher.

img_20160918_143637937

Special thanks are due to the MOD for arranging the safe transport of the panel and plaques and to AIG staff for their work to ensure the installation of the panel.

More information about the Commonwealth Walkways can be found at the website of The Outdoor Trust.

Saint Helena Government announces bi-monthly shipping service to St Helena and Cape Town

On 19 February, SHG announced the conclusion of a shipping contract with AW Ship Management Ltd.  AWSM will provide a sea freight service between Ascension and Cape Town via St Helena every two months.  As per the RMS, the service will be able to ship cars, sea containers, personal belongings and freezer goods. Pricing information will be released shortly but is expected to show a modest increase over the subsidised RMS service. A few berths will also be available on each voyage between the islands.  However, the principal means for transporting people between the islands will be a monthly air service with Comair.

Commenting on the agreement the Administrator, Marc Holland, said: ‘This is good news for the many people on Ascension who rely mainly on imports from South Africa and St Helena.  It provides welcome security to Saints working on Ascension that they will be able to ship their belongings home.   I will do another round of public meetings in the first week of March to answer any questions and to provide an update on the negotiations now underway with Comair on the details of the air link service.  I am grateful to the Governor and Councillors on St Helena for supporting the many months of hard and complex work by SHG officials to ensure that a sea freight service will operate between the two islands when the RMS service ends.

Governor Mark Capes said: ‘This important agreement with AWSM is the product of many months of demanding work and I warmly congratulate all concerned in bringing the negotiations to a satisfactory conclusion.  I know that it will be especially welcome news for Saints on Ascension who were understandably anxious to know that a freight service would be in place when the RMS service ends later this year.  The interests of the Saint community on Ascension are never far from the minds of their family and friends in SHG and in the private sector here on St Helena.  As in other areas of activity of mutual concern, this agreement is testimony to that and to the close cooperation between AIG and SHG.’

The full press release from SHG can be found on the SHG website.

AIG, 22 February

Children’s playground gets a revamp

Article by Nicola Dillon; Photos by Colin Duncan

playground 1

After months of planning and preparation work, the Ascension Island Government was pleased to officially open the Children’s Park on Tuesday, 2 February.

Ginny Ferson, Deputy Governor of Bermuda and the UK Senior Officer responsible for overseeing the implementation of the Wass Inquiry Report recommendations, had the pleasure of cutting the ribbon and declaring the park officially open.

Beforehand the Administrator, Marc Holland, spoke a few words describing the background to the playground renovation, which was one of the projects which were fostered under the umbrella of the Bicentenary year celebrations.   The project began as a £85K bid from the Development Fund in the last Appropriation Ordinance and was intended to upgrade the children’s playground to bring the facility up to required safety standards and to replace the old play equipment with new equipment.

At this stage the Administrator handed over to Councillor Nicholas John who became the Island Council champion for the park.  Councillor John had been involved in the project from start to finish and he was instrumental in the design, project management and procurement of equipment for the playground.

Councillor John said that there had been great teamwork across AIG and the island generally in the project.  The core project team was supported by various AIG teams as required.  He said that it had been a privilege and an honour to work alongside the team on the project.  The project had been approached with humour and good spirit as well as a serious amount of thought, hard graft and dedication.  The end result was a playground that not only enticed and accommodated all ages of children and their parents, but kept within budget, was aesthetically pleasing and conformed to British Safety Standards.

Particular mention was made of team leader, Nicky Herne, who took ownership of the project and invested a huge amount of personal time and effort to ensure its success.  Councillor John said that Nicky demonstrated once more his infallible attention to detail and desire for perfection and quality.  The project, said Councillor John, depended on Nicky’s trade craft and managerial ability.

playground 3

playground 4 playground 2

Councillor John gave thanks to the following:

  • IDL, Southern Pole Services and Redhall Engineering who donated concreting materials
  • Berard Dupres and Babcock for sponsoring a proportion of the water used by the water feature
  • Steve Brown who was responsible for deploying the workforce in support of the project
  • The AIG Fire department who washed the apparatus in readiness for the Christmas Eve celebrations
  • Shalane Thomas who was responsible for the financial aspect of the project and kept the budget on track
  • Nicky Benjamin and the excavation team for preparing the grounds. Special mention was made of Martin Henry and Kevin Wade for their support throughout the installation.  Councillor John commented that nothing was too much trouble for them!
  • Roy Francis and Raymond Andrews for construction work. Councillor John explained that there was a lot of work hidden underground which was crucial to the safety of the structures.  He thanked Roy and Raymond for their hard work and commitment to deliver the project as soon as possible.
  • Patrick (Toby) Brooks, Mario Williams and Nathan Thomas for the electrical installation
  • Adrian Williams and Roy Thomas who carried out the plumbing works
  • Darren Benjamin who was invaluable in assembling the apparatus and lending support for the construction work
  • The following staff members were also part of the project team: Gareth Henry, Glen Lawrence, Steven O’Connor, Cormac Crowie and Gerald March

All are to be congratulated on their fine achievement!

 

Publication of Wass Inquiry Report

Thursday 10 December 2015

The Ascension Island Government (AIG) today welcomes publication of the Wass Inquiry Report into Allegations Surrounding Child Safeguarding Issues on St Helena and Ascension Island, which follows an independent and comprehensive review of claims relating to child abuse on St Helena and Ascension Island carried out by Sasha Wass QC and the Inquiry team. The team visited St Helena and Ascension Island in March of this year. The report was published on 10 December in the UK Parliament, by means of a Written Ministerial Statement by Minister for the British Overseas Territories James Duddridge. Both the statement and the report can be viewed on the UK Government website at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-wass-inquiry-report-into-allegations-surrounding-child-safeguarding-issues-on-st-helena-and-ascension-island-redacted-version

The St Helena Government has also issued its own statement at: http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/wass-inquiry-report-published/

AIG acknowledges and reaffirms the independence and credibility of this Inquiry – which received its full support and cooperation – and accepts the report’s recommendations. AIG will now consider the report’s findings in greater detail and discuss the issues it raises and follow up action with the Ascension Island Safeguarding Board and the Island Council.

At this early stage, we note in particular the following broad findings and recommendations:
• The report refutes the claim that child abuse is endemic on St Helena. It states: ‘The Inquiry Panel found no evidence that child abuse was either endemic or routine’
• Nor was there a cover up or corruption. The report ‘found no evidence of corruption in the St Helena Police Service, the St Helena Government, the FCO or DFID. Nor was there any evidence of a cover up, as suggested to the public.’
• The report found no evidence of police corruption or paedophilia on Ascension Island
• The report notes that attention needs to be given to the travel needs of St Helenians living on Ascension Island post-RMS, although this has recently been overtaken by the selection of Comair to provide an air service between Ascension Island and St Helena
• The report observes that an anomaly in the jurisdiction between St Helena and Ascension Island relating to the sentencing of offenders to community orders needs to be dealt with.

Significant progress has been made in child safeguarding on Ascension in recent years. AIG has adopted the Child Welfare Ordinance and Children in Bars legislation, which provide a modern framework for safeguarding on the island. The AI Safeguarding Board has adopted Child Protection guidelines, a criminal records check policy for adults working unsupervised with children, set up safe houses and the regulation of child-minding, and employed the island’s first full-time social worker.

We will continue to work closely with FCO, the St Helena Government and island employers to ensure we do all we can to protect children and the vulnerable. AIG and the UK Government take all accusations of child abuse extremely seriously and we are committed to ensuring that victims are heard and protected.

Of course, it would be naive to think that Government can tackle all of this alone. Everyone on St Helena and Ascension Island has a responsibility to work together to help to protect the vulnerable in our community and anyone with information that would assist the authorities is urged to come forward in confidence.
Notes to Editors

The Inquiry was commissioned by FCO and DFID Ministers to establish the truth of various allegations by carrying out a multi-disciplinary investigation into the claims made, providing an assessment of their genuineness, and making recommendations as appropriate. The allegations behind the Inquiry involved claims relating to child abuse in St Helena, police corruption and incompetence, and a conspiracy by SHG, FCO and DFID to cover these up.

The Inquiry was headed by Ms Sasha Wass QC, an accomplished barrister with substantial professional experience of dealing with these types of issues, supported by a multi-disciplinary team of experts.

The Wass Inquiry report can be down-loaded here.

A direct link to the Written Ministerial Statement can be found here.

AIG
10 December 2015

Two Boats School: Good with Outstanding Features – Officially

Provision at Two Boats School is at least good in all areas, with many excellent features. These are the findings of School Inspection Service, one of the contractors licensed by Ofsted to conduct inspections of British schools overseas.

The most important findings are:

  • Two Boats School is highly successful in meeting its aims
  • It provides a good education for its pupils, making use of its stimulating location
  • Commitment by staff to the interests and education of the pupils is paramount
  • Pupils’ behaviour is excellent
  • No teaching is less than good and a third of that observed was outstanding
  • The curriculum is good, and is broad and balanced
  • Pupils make good progress
  • Social and moral development of the pupils is excellent and their cultural and spiritual development is good
  • The school puts great emphasis on communication with parents
  • The school is very well led and managed
  • The school is well resourced
  • The school is successful in achieving high standards of performance
  • Strong emphasis is placed on safeguarding
  • Attention to the welfare, health and safety of pupils is excellent.

Following the very successful inspection last term, the UK Department for Education has confirmed British Schools Overseas status for Two Boats School and recognised that it complies with the required standards.  The school has also now been upgraded to Accredited Member status of the Council of British International Schools (COBIS). Two Boats is the only school in the South Atlantic to achieve these distinctions.

Headteacher, Mr David Blunt, welcomed the inspection findings; “Thank you again and congratulations to all the staff and pupils on this truly excellent report.  It is really good reading and presents a very fair picture of the school.  Thanks also to parents and Ascension Island Government colleagues for their support before and during the inspection process and continued commitment to the work of the school.”

 HH the Administrator Mr Marc Holland wrote to the Headteacher saying, “I would like to thank you and your team for the effort you put in over a number of months preparing for the inspection. The outcome of the review is a fantastic result for the school, the staff and the island. You should all be very proud.”

Cllr Cyril Leo, considering the report at the Island Council meeting on 5th February, said, “Congratulations (on the report) to you and your staff and I hope that it has brought reassurance to members of the public and parents of the good job that you are doing at the school”. Cllr Caroline Yon, Chair of the School Governor’s Committee, wished to pass on congratulations on behalf of the SGC to all of the staff and pupils at the school for their dedication and effort in achieving such excellent results.

Read the full report here.

Administrator visits St Helena

Mark Capes and Marc HollandSt Helena control towerMarc Holland runway St Helena

 

 

 

 

 

The recent shuttle of the RMS St Helena provided the perfect opportunity for the Administrator, Marc Holland, to make his first visit to St Helena.  Although the visit was brief it enabled the Administrator to meet with key players in the St Helena Government (SHG), including the Governor, Chief Secretary, Financial Secretary and the Attorney General.

While on St Helena, the Administrator had important discussions about the airport project and talked to many people about the impact on St Helena as well as on Ascension.  One of the main issues was how to ensure a viable transport link could be created with Ascension. 

One of the highlights of Mr Holland’s trip was a visit to the airport site.   The 1950m runway was taking shape – the heavy construction phase was over and they had started laying the concrete sections of the runway. Work had just started on fitting out the ATC tower & Terminal building.

The Governor hosted a lovely meal at Plantation House. Guests included Cllr Lawson Henry, the Attorney General, the Bishop and some visiting yachties.

 

 

Jacqui Ellick takes oath of office

Jacqui Ellick Takes Oath of Office photo

Ascension Island’s newest member of the Ascension Island Council, Mrs Jacqui Ellick, was officially sworn in on Thursday, 15 January 2015.

Following a by-election on 18 November, Councillor Ellick was elected to Council by a majority of 69 votes to 49 votes.Councillor Ellick’s appointment brings the number of elected members to seven and fills the vacant seat left by Toni Bendall following her resignation on 31 July 2014.

Councillor Ellick is one of Ascension Island’s longest residents and is an active member of the Community.  She is currently one of the island’s longest serving JPs and also serves as Chairman of the Islander newspaper.Councillor Ellick has been actively involved in Ascension Island’s Turtle programme over many years and this year is heading the Turtle Intern Programme in conjunction with the Conservation Office.

Ascension Island Government

15 January 2015

Swearing in of new Administrator

New Header

Marc Holland is sworn in as the 19th Administrator of Ascension Island

On Tuesday 26 August, Mr Marc Holland was sworn in as Administrator of Ascension AdministratorIsland, having succeeded the outgoing Administrator, Mr Colin Wells, whose term in office had come to an end.

A large gathering of invited guests assembled at the Court House in Georgetown for the ceremony which was led by Mr Alan Nicholls, AIG Director of Human Resources. After addressing guests, Mr Nicholls invited the outgoing Administrator to give a speech.

Mr Wells reflected on his term in office during the last three years having arrived in October 2011. When he arrived AIG was going through a period of transition, however, the last few years have seen the organisation’s standing and reputation improve and the island was now enjoying financial stability. Mr Wells paid tribute to the people he had had the pleasure of working with – Island Councillors, Heads of Organisations, AIG staff and in particular he thanked his team at the Administrator’s Office. He also highlighted the events and occasions that he had enjoyed, especially the New Year’s Day Pier Head jump, which saw him pictured on the front page of the Islander in mid-jump!

Mr Wells’ speech was followed by the formal part of the ceremony and Mr Nicholls read out a directive from HE the Governor, Mark Capes, as follows: “I hereby direct you to arrange for Mr Marc Holland, whom I have appointed to succeed Mr Wells, to take the necessary oaths on that day to enable him to assume the role, duties and responsibilities of the position of Administrator of Ascension Island”.

AdministratorThe Oath of Office was administered to Mr Holland by Mrs Jacqui Ellick, JP.

After assuming the office of Administrator, Mr Holland gave a speech. He began by thanking everyone for the warm welcome that he and his family had received since their arrival just over a week ago – a particularly challenging move which came shortly after the birth of their fifth child. Mr Holland paid tribute to the outgoing Administrator and highlighted some of the contributions that Mr Wells had made to Ascension Island, among them the promotion of conservation, the stability of the island’s finances and the work towards safeguarding children.

Mr Holland went on to talk about his family and his background, having worked in the Foreign Office for 12 years with postings to Brussels and Berlin. Before this he worked in education planning in local government and in business as a management consultant. Mr Holland said, “I am also a strong believer in lifelong learning and there will be many new skills for me to pick up in this role”. In his vision for Ascension, Mr Holland spoke about St Helena Airport being on the departure board at Wideawake Airfield, the bicentenary celebration of the garrisoning of Ascension Island and sustainable fishing. “But,” he said “I’m clear about the result I want to achieve – to be a model, well run, small Overseas Territory.”Administrator 3

Mr Holland ended by saying, “I’d like to leave you with three things you could do for me and Ascension. Challenge – if something is not right, speak up. Do come and talk to me and tell me what’s on your mind. I’ll be out and about around the island or come by my office. We should challenge ourselves to deliver our best and become a model Overseas Territory. Community – I’m impressed by the sense of community on Ascension.  Let’s all get involved to make the island a better place to live for everyone. Next year’s bicentenary provides a focus. And if you want to make a personal difference to how things are run, we have a vacancy for Councillor.  Cherish – we live in a special place. Let’s look after it, together.

Following speeches, guests reconvened at the Saints Club to say farewell to Mr Wells and to congratulate Mr Holland on his appointment.

AIG

28 August 2014

Child Protection – Lucy Faithfull Report

AIG Header

Message from The Administrator

CHILD PROTECTION ON ST HELENA AND ASCENSION ISLAND: REPORT BY THE LUCY FAITHFULL FOUNDATION

The governments of St Helena and Ascension Island recognise their responsibility to protect the vulnerable in society, especially children. Following the improvements that flowed from the ‘Safeguarding Children in the Overseas Territories Programme’, work has continued to strengthen the child protection framework on both Islands, including raising awareness of the need to safeguard children from sexual or physical abuse. As a result, in the past few years several offenders have been detected, prosecuted and awarded custodial sentences.

To help assess progress and identify areas for improvement, two representatives of the independent Lucy Faithfull Foundation (LFF), a UK based charity dedicated to preventing the sexual abuse of children (http://www.lucyFaithfull.org/), visited St Helena and Ascension earlier this year. A summary of the report of their visit is available below. As the substantive report contains data that could identify individual child protection cases, it will be available only to officials involved in child protection work. While the report recognises the progress made, it points to areas where more remains to be done. The recent strengthening of the Police and Social Services Department on St Helena will help take forward this important work.

In relation to Ascension Island, the reviewers have welcomed initiatives like the Child Helpline and the introduction of a Counseling Service at the school, as steps in the right direction, but question their effectiveness to date.  They welcomed the “Children in Bars” legislation. But, they have drawn attention to the degree of distrust between parents and Government institutions. In addition, they note that the working nature of Ascension may inhibit victims of sexual and domestic abuse from coming forward – out of a perceived fear of the impact it might have on their employment and entry control status or that of their family members. The Reviewers fear this may mask the true extent of this behavior on Ascension and recommend an education campaign to raise awareness in all parts of the community about the impact of sexual and domestic abuse on the victims, families, communities and even those who perpetrate it.

I welcome this report and believe more needs to be done to address both sexual and domestic abuse on Ascension. I look forward to working with the new Council, voluntary groups, employers and professionals from all parts of Ascension society to take this forward. The aim must be to stop abuse from happening but where it does, for victims to believe they can come forward and receive the support they need without fear of repercussion.

Colin Wells
Administrator
14th October 2013

Lucy Faithfull Foundation – Report Summary
Lucy Faithfull report

Next Administrator for Ascension Announced

AIG Header

Message from the Administrator

Marc Holland to be next Administrator of Ascension Island

 

I am delighted to be able to inform you that His Excellency Mark Capes, Governor of Ascension, has appointed Mr Marc Holland as the 19th Administrator of Ascension Island. Marc, who is 39 and a member of HM Diplomatic Service, will replace me in October 2014.

Marc has kindly sent us an introduction to himself and his family.

“I joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 2002 and have worked at the UK Representation to the European Union in Brussels (negotiating EU social & employment legislation on behalf of the UK) and at the British Embassy in Berlin, where I worked on EU, agricultural and employment issues. I am currently Deputy Head of the Future of Europe Department in London. Before joining the FCO, I worked as a management consultant and briefly for Department of Trade & Industry. I also worked in local government, where I was responsible for school place planning for a London borough.

New AdministratorI met my wife Rachel at Oxford University and we married 7 years later. We both studied German, she also Portuguese and I, history. She has worked in publishing, website content management and for an oil multinational. Recently she qualified as a primary school teacher. We have four children – Annoushka (11), Jemima (9), Luca (7) and Noah (18 months). They will all be coming with us to Ascension and look forward to attending Two Boats School and getting involved in island life. As a family we especially enjoy walking and swimming in our free time and we hope to continue doing these as well as trying out some new skills and hobbies during our time on Ascension.

We are all thrilled to be coming to Ascension. We look forward to taking full part in the community and sharing
with you the unique experience of living and working in such a fascinating place.”

I hope Marc will visit Ascension early next year and in the process meet as many of you as possible. I know he is keen to do so.

Colin Wells
Administrator
9th October 2013