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A Photoblog: St Helena takes part in the Worldwide Photowalk

October 23, 2014 in Island Life, News

On Saturday, 11 October, St Helena took part in the Scott Kelby Worldwide Photowalk for the very first time. Cities from all over the world have been participating in this global event for the past 7 years, and this year St Helena’s photographers took up their cameras to become the 1000th registered country.


Credit to Paul Tyson

A group of enthusiastic walker-photographers – young, young-at-heart and four-legged, met at White Gate on Saturday morning to start off on the walk. Even the weather played along, with the sun peeking out from time to time.

The energetic group winded their way up to High Knoll Fort and from there descended to Prince’s Lodge where photos, tips and tales were shared.

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It was the first time that the island had officially participated in this global event. St Helena was the 1000th country to register for the Photowalk in which almost 20 000 walkers and 1058 cities worldwide participated.

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The focus of the walk was on taking part as a community in a worldwide event. Participants were also able to enter their favorite photograph into the international World Wide Photo Walk competition.

Credit to by Paul Tyson

Credit to by Paul Tyson

Chanelle Marais, Marketing and Communications Manager for St Helena Tourism, and organizer of the event said: “This was an excellent platform to create awareness of the natural and historical beauty of St Helena and to showcase the talent of our local photographers. We were very happy with the turnout at the event, and hope that our photographers’ photos receive the recognition that they deserve.


About the Scott Kelby Worldwide Photowalk:

The Worldwide Photo Walk is the world’s largest global and social photography event, and has grown immensely in size and popularity since the inaugural walk back in 2007. This year St Helena becames part of this global event.





General’s Quarters Reconstruction Almost Finished

October 16, 2014 in News, Tourism

People involved with providing tourism services are taking a close interest in the reconstruction of the General’s Quarters at the rear of Longwood House. The French Consul, Michel Dancoisne-Martineau, gave a member of the St Helena Tourism Association a conducted tour of the General’s Quarters last February and outlined his plans for this new facility when the work is finished. This week Michel Dancoisne-Martineau offered to show us the progress that has been made in the last seven months.


Front of The Generals Quarters: February-2014

Front of the Generals Quarters

Front of the Generals Quarters: October 2014








The reconstruction is now almost finished, leaving the all important internal decoration together with some of the fixtures and fittings to be completed. Michel is now coming to the end of a lengthy and complex project involving the French Government and The Foundation Napoleon as well as the usual authorities and agencies in St Helena. The work was always intended to mark the 200th anniversary of Napoleon’s exile to St Helena and it has been successfully completed well in advance of the October 2015 anniversary.

The Large Room for Public Events

The reconstruction of what was the accommodation for Colonel Marquis Montholon, General Baron Gourgaud and Napoleon’s physician, Barry Edward O’Meara, has formed rooms of various sizes for public events. The large and well-equipped kitchen will provide catering for small dining parties in one of the smaller rooms or buffets for large gatherings in the main public room.

The Front of the New Building

The Front of the New Building

There are also two private, self-contained suites that will provide living accommodation for special guests. The attractive garden at the front of the General’s Quarters is also being improved and will be used for outside events during the summer months.

The Garden for Public Events

The Garden for Public Events

Michel explained he has arranged for 25 people to visit St Helena to mark the bicentenary of Napoleon’s exile. They will be using the facilities at the General’s Quarters for some events during their visit but will be accommodated at various Jamestown hotels and guesthouses.

Michel pointed out he used only local construction workers and craftsmen for the entire work and is very happy with job they have done.



Building an Airport – Dry Gut Fill and Airport Buildings

October 9, 2014 in News, Tourism

Building an airport in any location is a complicated business. Building an airport on St Helena, one of the most remote inhabited islands in the world, is a task of mammoth proportions. We follow the progress of the project with great anticipation.

Credit to the Access Office

Credit to the Access Office

Dry Gut Fill

Recently a very significant milestone in the construction process was reached when Dry Gut was filled. If you’re not a Saint (St Helenian!), living on the island or involved in the airport project, this may sound like gibberish. In short, this means that a great, gaping valley was filled so that the 2.4km runway can be constructed on a flat stretch of land.

The Dry Gut. Credit to SHG.

The Dry Gut. Credit to SHG.

The impressive filling of Dry Gut at the airport site at Prosperous Bay Plain, a critical element in the entire airport construction programme, was completed at the end of August after 22 months of hard work and perseverance by the Basil Read Earthworks Team.

The last production load was placed on Saturday, 30 August 2014 at 3pm. The total volume of the Dry Gut fill is 7,612,255m³, giving a total height between the lowest and highest point of 119.8m. A total of 450,000 truckloads of material were used for the fill.

The last truck load of material into the Dry Gut. Credit to the Access Office.

The last truck load of material into the Dry Gut. Credit to the Access Office.

Head of Earthworks, Deon Robbertse commented: “The Dry Gut fill is an example of what teamwork can do. I take my ‘hard’ hat off and salute everyone who helped with this part of the project. Through some good days and some bad, misty, rainy, downright awful days and nights, the team kept on producing and kept reaching their targets. They literally filled Dry Gut one load at a time. It was a privilege to work with the team and thank you to everyone who did their bit.”

Did You Know?

  • The first production load went into Dry Gut on 14 November 2012.
  • 19 trucks were used day and night (with night shifts starting in February 2013, equating to over 12,500 loads per operator.
  • Over 22 months, 503 day shifts and 437 night shifts took place to completely fill Dry Gut.
  • In filling Dry Gut, each ADT has travelled around 60,000km, a total of 1.2 million km (750,000 miles).
  • It takes five buckets per excavator to fill one ADT, which means that the four 70t excavators have turned and scooped up a bucketful of rubble more than 3.125 million times to fill the ADTs and to fill Dry Gut.

Airport Buildings

In the mean time the airport buildings are also progressing at a rapid pace. The structure of the combined building has been completed, and the control tower has now taken its final form with the installation of the cladding and windows. The brickwork is also complete and plastering is in progress. The installation of the services has started and the erection of the roof was scheduled to commence from 6 October.

The Control Tower. Credit to SHG.

The Control Tower. Credit to SHG.

The structure of the terminal building is currently 70% complete. Brickwork to the ground floor of the building is ongoing, and the installation of electrical, mechanical and plumbing works will start shortly.

We congratulate all who have been involved in these achievements and look forward to the completion of the next phase.

For more information about the St Helena Airport Project, visit the Basil Read website.

Credit to the Access Office.

Credit to the Access Office.

World Tourism Day – it’s all about community development

October 2, 2014 in Island Life, News

World Tourism Day’s theme this year was Tourism and Community Development, and with that in mind St Helena had a fun filled month with two main activities underwriting the theme: the first Mountain Bike race, which took place on a track built by Saints. Also, a prize-giving as a result of the photography competition “Saints at Work and at Play” (on the 27th September).

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At the prize giving ceremony, Dr Niall O’Keeffe, the Chief Executive for Economic Development of Enterprise St Helena, highlighted the importance of tourism to a destination, the global contribution to the economy that tourism delivers and how miniscule in the global context, the expectation for St Helena is, post airport opening.

Overall winner

The judges had a tough time determining the winning entries and were all in agreement that the quality of the photographs was high.

Prize winners were:

  • Adult Class: 1st David Higgins, 2nd Paul Tyson and 3rd Ceri Sansom
  • 12-15yrs: 1st Tiffany Herne, 2nd Shelby Bargo and 3rd Jacob Bowers
  • 8-11yrs: 1st Nesta Yon, 2nd Cerys Joshua and 3rd Luke Bowers
  • Under 8yrs: 1st Jodie Thomas

Highly Commended:  Richard Moors, Ceri Sansom, David Higgins, Pilling teachers, Steve Evans and Noleen Herne.

On your marks, get set, GO! St Helena’s first mountain biking competition

September 25, 2014 in Island Life, News

This is a guest post from Christina Stroud of the tourism office.

St Helena’s Mountain Bike Competition started off at 11:00 am at the Millennium Forest.  Tourism Projects Manager, Merrill Joshua, welcomed spectators and riders. After a briefing all riders were assigned their numbers and got ready on the starting line, the Millennium Forest. The route was across a five-mile challenging track, on route towards Cox’s Battery along hilly, steep terrain and eventually looping back to the Millennium Forest. It takes skill, dedication and fitness to reach the winning positions.


The riders that participated were:

No Name Time out Time In Total
1 Remi Bruneton 27.49 27.49 2nd Place
2 Alonzon Henry 27.01 27.01 1st Place
3 Rick Walters -30 29.00 28.30
4 Andy Day -30 Did not complete
5 Ross Antonion Leo -60 29.10 28.10 3rd Place
6 Nigel McMichael -60 31.15 30.15
7 Lizemarie Robbetse - - - -
8 John Woolacot - - - -
9 Michael Davis -1.30 28.10 26.80 Ineligible (discussed and agreed 20/09)
10 Hannah Lowe -1.30 51.33 50.03
11 Louis Allen Youde -2.00 53.44 51.44
12 Deon Robbertse - - - -
13 Richard Moors 2.30 48.34 46.04
14 Derrick Alexander 2.30 48.49 46.19
15 Dennis Leo 3.00 52.19 49.19
16 Steven Theron 3.00 47.34 44.34

Remi Bruneton took the lead closely followed by Alonzon Henry, hot on their heels were Rick Walters, Ross Leo and Michael Davis.  At the bottom of the valley there is a dangerous drop zone so all riders were advised to get off their bikes and walk this area. It was here that Alonzon Henry took advantage and got into lead position and continued to hold his position to the finish line at the Millennium Forest.


There was also other activities and family entertainment on the day with Mr Colin Peters providing musical entertainment, National Trust with a cafe, SanRay’s selling food and soft drinks, Leroy Fowler selling pop corn and candy floss, Creative St Helena with their kiddies creative section, National Trust plant a tree and paint a footprint trail, and also the Forestry Projects debut kiddie cycling track through the Millennium Forest.

Alonso winner Mountain Bike Competition

Alonso winner Mountain Bike Competition

Winner of the Kids track was Scott Thomas.

The event finished with a Prize Giving and a general message of gratitude to all that contributed and supported St Helena’s first Mountain Bike Competition.

3rd Place                Ross A Leo                         Mountain Bike T Shirt and water bottle

2nd Place               Remi Bruneton                   A portable barbeque

1st Place                 Alonzon Henry                        Go Pro Camera & Trophy




Twice the size in just two years

September 11, 2014 in Island Life

St Helena Arts and Crafts moved to the Canister from a gloomy room at the back of Broadway House just two years ago.  The move to larger and certainly more pleasant premises in a far more prominent location has brought with it an Arts and Crafts organisation which is thriving now more than ever before.

The number of people making craftwork for sale at the Canister has increased by about forty, making the total number of craft workers providing work for sale double what it was just before the move.  The range of local craftwork offered for sale has also increased.  The longstanding wood and lace craft continues but the range of items made from local wood is larger and more people are now offering lacework as well as adapting the style of their lacework to what today’s tourists want to buy.  Recycled products made at SHAPE’s (St Helena’s Active Participation in Enterprise) headquarters in Sandy Bay add further to the range of choice available.

The range of crafted wood available using local materials now includes dishes, clock faces and book-ends made to commemorate the RMS being taken out of service in 2016.  A further range of commemorative items, this time marking the bicentenary of Napoleon, will also be available.

The wood craft includes the recent addition of souvenir items to commemorate the RMS being taken out of service in 2016

The wood craft includes the recent addition of souvenir items to commemorate the RMS being taken out of service in 2016

Locally crafted wood can be inlaid with Napoleonic images to mark next year’s bicentenary

Locally crafted wood can be inlaid with Napoleonic images to mark next year’s bicentenary

In addition to the recycled works from SHAPE another relatively recent addition to the range of souvenirs available is the raw flax work where some skilled work has been produced since the visit of world renowned flax artist Veranoa Hetet in 2012.  Veranoa came to St Helena to train some craft workers in how to use flax.  Since the training sessions given by Veranoa, Wanda Isaac has developed her skills to a high standard and is teaching others how to work with flax.

A bouquet of flowers, handmade from flax

A bouquet of flowers, handmade from flax

Embroidered shopping bags and handbags are another increasingly popular line and more interest is being shown since the Artists Corner Exhibition in November last year in offering paintings for sale.

Arts and Crafts have established their own quality assurance mark.  ‘Uniquely Saint’ is the mark used to assure customers that what they are buying has been hand crafted in St Helena using local materials to a high standard.

Arts and Crafts is developing into a ‘nice little earner’ for those who are interested in craftwork and are lucky enough to have the necessary skills.  The revenue taken by Arts and Crafts at the Canister is gradually and consistently increasing.  The Arts and Crafts organisation seems to be positioning itself well to take advantage of the increased numbers of tourists expected after the airport opens.

Anyone interested in contacting Arts and Crafts directly can email them on

Goodbye to the Giant Earwig

September 4, 2014 in Island Life

The St Helena Giant Earwig is following the St Helena Olive into extinction.  Last sighted in 1967 and otherwise known as Labidura herculeana the official announcement that the Giant Earwigis no longer with us is really just part of a massive operation involving a tremendous amount of field research and an untold number of hours recording everything that is known about St Helena’s 457 endemic invertebrates, otherwise known as ‘bugs’.


The Giant Earwig

The Giant Earwig Labidura herculeana – now officially declared extinct


David ‘The Bug man’ Pryce has spent the last eighteen months searching through the undergrowth, under rocks and among the trees and shrubs in search of all sorts of insects.  Most of his time though has been devoted to searching through old books, manuscripts and scientific papers for information and records.  All of this effort is focussed on counting and cataloguing all species of bugs from the bottom of guts to the tops of ridges which are known to man.  Some of the rarest bugs can be literally under your feet; others are clinging to the side of a remote valley.

The Frosted Fungus Weevil is one of those you could easily have trodden on.  It is so small you need a microscope to identify it properly.  Like the Giant Earwig, the Frosted Fungus Weevil has not been seen since 1967 but is now known to be alive and well and living in Lower Rupert’s Valley.  The home of the Frosted Fungus Weevil is under Samphire.

The Blushing Snail was thought to be the last remaining endemic snail surviving in St Helena until 1994 when Phillip and Myrtle Ashmole discovered a reasonable number of Ammonite Snails quietly going about their business in a small remote corner of a high ridge.  Previous records of very small populations at two nearby locations were not considered reliable enough as confirmation that Ammonite Snail still lived and breathed.  Unlike the Giant Earwig, the Frosted Fungus Weevil and the Ammonite Snail are again known to man and have been officially brought back from near extinction; they are now one step away from the fate of the Giant Earwig and are respectively classified as Endangered and Critically Endangered.

The Ammonite Snail

The Ammonite Snail

David Pryce’s work comes to a close at the end of the year.  So far he has 41,773 individual records in his species information data bank and 267,400 pieces of data in his records file about the 1,337 bugs living in St Helena.  457 of these bugs cannot be found anywhere else on earth; this means 29%, an unusually high proportion, of the invertebrates known to be surviving here are endemics.  To put this in proportion, apart from the Frosted Fungus Weevil there are 28 other species of Fungus Weevil in St Helena.  The 29 species of this type of weevil surviving within our 47 square miles is more than the total number of similar species known to exist throughout the entire continent of Europe.  The Galapagos Islands are world renowned for the unusual species existing within those shores; the tortoise being the most famous of them.  When it comes to endemic bugs, St Helena beats the Galapagos hands down.  St Helena can claim to have more than seven times more species of endemic invertebrates per square mile than the globally famous and much studied Galapagos Islands.

Apart from assembling the biggest and best bank of data about St Helena’s invertebrates, if David Pryce’s work is put together with Judith Brown’s similar work on marine species and the data held on plants, lichens and mosses; much of it published in 2012 by Phil Lambdon, Martin Wigginton and Andre Aptroot, St Helena now has the best knowledge base on its endemic terrestrial and marine wild life populations of any geographical area anywhere in the world.

The downside to all this is that when David Pryce’s work is finished it is expected that most of the 457 bugs will be classified as Endangered, Critically Endangered or Vulnerable and will be officially ‘Red Listed’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature [IUCN].  At present only 24 St Helenian bugs are officially red listed; a further 391 need to be classified.  So far, work on only 16 of the 391 has been completed.   The IUCN have rigorous methods for officially classifying any species and David’s field research and records are being used to confirm the status of the Island’s invertebrates.  Together with Liza White at the Environmental Management Division David is working through the list of endemic bugs to put together the data required for each individual species in order to get official international recognition of their extinction risk.  Having established the numbers of species in St Helena whose existence is threatened it is possible that international cooperation to protect them will be more forthcoming.

David Pryce is part of the St Helena National Trust Bugs on the Brink Project which is working to lay the foundations for the conservation of St Helena’s unique bugs, many of which are on the brink of extinction. It is a partnership project between Buglife, Saint Helena National Trust, Saint Helena Government and Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and is funded by the Darwin Initiative.


Enterprise St Helena at Reading Sports Day 2014

August 28, 2014 in News

Today’s guest blog post is from Manager of New Horizons (a youth centre on St Helena), Nick Stevens. Over the weekend he attended St Helena’s annual Reading Sports Day; an event still going strong after 35 years, which sees Saints (St Helenians) from across the UK visit Reading to catch up with friends, family and meet new people.


We were at Reading bright and early on Sunday, to set up the Enterprise St Helena (ESH) stall. Every year numerous people, mostly Saints, visit the stall to understand what ESH offers in terms of business grants and loans. This year was no exception and we received plenty of interest.


We informed visitors to the stall that St Helena is looking for people to set up businesses that will help develop the tourist industry; mainly in Catering and Hospitality. We also highlighted that there are opportunities for potential employment in Fishing, Agriculture and Construction.

Most people we talked to said that they are very interested in returning home to St Helena. The biggest obstacle for most is the fare home; others stated that they would like to know the cost of airfares to St Helena as soon as possible so that they can plan their return home. It was clear throughout the course of the day that most people were supportive of the Airport and were pleased with how the project is developing.

Below are a range of pictures from Reading Sports Day 2014, kindly provided by Simon Pipe of St Helena Online:

Follow in the Footsteps of Halley with New Stargazing Tour

August 21, 2014 in News, Tourism

If you fancy a stargazing adventure then you should consider embarking to St Helena. Located 16 degrees south of the equator, virtually every constellation in the sky is visible at one time or another during the year.

Now you can easily travel to enjoy them, thanks to a new voyage pairing St Helena – one time home to the observatory of Edmond “comet” Halley – and a visit to South Africa’s national observatory. Combine this with a visit to the South African Astronomical Observatories (SAAO) telescopes outside Sutherland in the Western Cape for a truly spellbinding experience.


The new 19-day tour departs from Cape Town in May 2015 on board the RMS St Helena, one of the last working royal mail ships in the world, in the company of professional stargazer, dark skies consultant, and author of the book “Stargazing for Dummies”, Steve Owens. For the ultimate optical package, guests can add on the five-day pre tour to the Western Cape, visiting Sutherland to see the Southern Africa Large Telescope along with ample opportunities to appreciate the Southern hemisphere’s stellar nightscape.

Next stop is our island, St Helena, steeped in astronomical history and one of the few places where both The Plough and the Southern Cross can be seen in the sky at the same time. Visitors can also marvel at the the Magellanic Clouds, and the galactic centre of the Milky Way. Time on St Helena will include guided tours of Jamestown’s historical sites and buildings, visits to local landmarks such as the Heart Shaped Waterfall and Diana’s Peak, a Napoleonic tour, coastal sightseeing including seeking out dolphins and nocturnal sky watching.

If you’re interested the tour, departing Cape Town on 4th May 2015, costs from £2,695 per person including accommodation in a shared two berth cabin on A deck with private facilities and full board while on board the RMS St Helena, in a twin/double room on St Helena on a bed and breakfast basis, all tours on St Helena with evening meals where mentioned.  The Western Cape pre-tour departs on 30th April and costs from £915 per person, based on sharing a twin room,  all accommodation and meals as mentioned in the itinerary, entry fees and guiding fees. International flights are extra.

For more information and to book, click here.

Don’t miss the boat! Last chance to enter the Governor’s Cup Yacht race before it changes forever

August 19, 2014 in Tourism

Entries are now open for the truly unique Governor’s Cup Yacht Race from False Bay Yacht Club near the historic Simon’s Town, South Africa to Jamestown, St Helena Island – one of the world’s best kept secrets. This exhilarating 1,700 nautical mile downwind race to one of the most extraordinary places on earth starts on 27th December 2014 and is the last time it will take place in its current format, making it a once in a lifetime race!

Ray of Light

Every two years since 1996, intrepid sailors looking for a one-of-a-kind racing experience, have taken part in the Governor’s Cup Yacht Race, which after an 8 – 14 day handicap chase across the South Atlantic, culminates in an activity-filled stay on St Helena – an island currently only accessible by private yacht or on one of the last operating Royal Mail Ships, the RMS St Helena. Following their stay on St Helena, supporters, family and crews enjoy a relaxing cruise back to Cape Town onboard the RMS St Helena offering an abundance of fun-filled activities and post race parties.

2014 sees the last time the race will take place in this format with the opening of a new airport on St Helena due in February 2016 and the subsequent decommission of the RMS St Helena – so don’t miss the boat and make sure you enter today. Entrants typically range from fast racing boats with experienced crews to cruising boats manned by small families, offering an experience for everyone.

To find out more and to download an entry form for the 2014 Governor’s Cup Yacht Race, visit the ‘Taking Part’ section of To connect with previous race entrants and those already signed up for this year visit the Governor’s Cup Facebook page or @Governors_Cup. The closing date for entries to the race is 31st October 2014.

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