The last time the FCO’s Ben Merrick was on island was in October 2015 when Ascension was celebrating the Bicentenary since the British Garrison arrived.
Last week, on his way back to the UK from St Helena, Ben stopped over on Ascension for three days, catching up with former and new contacts and being briefed on current issues. On his first day, Ben was able to attend a meeting of the Ascension Safeguarding Board, following which members of the AIG team gave him a tour of the island’s infrastructure which will be the subject of a FCO review in the coming months.
Day 2 started early with discussions with the Island’s major Employers and a tour of the runway. Later in the day Ben (who was joined by Shahbaz Baloch, FCO) attended an informal meeting of the Island Council, where the Employment Law revision and diesel fuel supply for cars were discussed. As the HMS Portland and RFA Gold Rover were in port, Ben joined the Administrator in welcoming Captain Stroude and officers from both ships, along with visitors and locals, to afternoon tea at the Residency.
The delay in the airbridge gave both Ben and Shahbaz a further opportunity to explore Ascension and they were able to enjoy a walk around the recently-restored Elliots path as well as seeing turtles laying on Long Beach.Ben also assisted in ‘rescuing’ a stranded turtle at Deadman’s Beach!
Ben has been the Deputy Director for the Overseas Territories since July 2015 and has direct oversight of the Southern Oceans Department (encompassing British Indian Ocean Territory, Falklands, St Helena, Ascension, Tristan da Cunha and Pitcairn) and the Child Safeguarding Unit.
Ascension Island Government
6 February 2017