Our Top 9 of 2018
Trending on social media are #Topnine moments of 2018. Here are our top 9 experiences as we reflect on the year gone by.
St Helena Conference (January/February)
St Helena took a historical turn and welcomed the first commercial air service in October 2017. As part of the island’s welcome to new visitors with the opening of the airport, St Helena hosted its first international conference entitled: Diverse Island Environments; A multi-disciplinary view of islands in January and February 2018.
Researchers from across the world traveled to the island to participate in the conference that takes a multi-disciplinary view of diverse island environments with a focus on St Helena as a key case-study. The programme included anthropologists, sociologists, economists, ecologists, environmentalists, fisheries scientists, educational professionals and island experts; and brought together a wide range of disciplines to facilitate holistic thinking and ideas around islands.
Talks covered a range of topics from the ‘impact of connectivity on island spaces’ and ‘transnational villagers’ to ‘oceanic floras’ and ‘marine plastics’. The conference was also used as a platform for our local researchers and students who shared the outcomes of the research that they are doing on island.
The conference was sponsored by Enterprise St Helena, SAERI, Georgia Aquarium, Ocean Conservancy and SURE St Helena. Specialists from Georgia Aquarium presented on topics including the uniqueness of St Helena’s whale sharks and the growing issue of marine plastics. Georgia Aquarium’s research, in partnership with St Helena’s Environmental and Natural Resources Department research and collaboration with Georgia Aquarium; has already highlighted the importance of St Helena as a multi-use habitat for whale sharks.
Georgia Aquarium Research visit on Whale Sharks (February)
Georgia Aquarium the leading researchers in world study on Whale Sharks, returned to St Helena in January/February as part of the St Helena Conference guest speakers, and also as part of continued research on the Whale shark aggregations that frequent this area.
This made the third year the team have traveled to St Helena, led by Dr. Alistair Dove, Vice President of Research and Conservation. These field expeditions began because researchers believe whale sharks use St. Helena’s waters as mating grounds – something that has never before been documented.
Using techniques discovered in the aquarium setting, researchers from Georgia Aquarium and their partners studied the whale sharks in the waters around St. Helena. Last year, they were joined by a crew from Ocean Conservancy focusing on the impacts of marine plastics on and around the island.
St Helena Star Gazing event (April)
St Helena welcomed Bob Bower, Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and Member of the British Astronomical Association, who visited the Island in April to help launch a new stargazing event. Bob has been an amateur Astronomer since 1986 and built his first telescope in the early 1960s. He co-presented a weekly astronomy programme on a Scottish radio station from 2003 – 2008 and has given talks on the night sky and history of astronomy to various organisations and societies across Scotland and England.
Bob led star-gazing training sessions and introductory courses for those interested in being a stargazing tour guide as well as teaching local school children about their night sky. This event also supports St Helena’s quest to become Dark Skies accredited.
Introduction of Additional Peak Season mid-week flights (May)
In May the St Helena Government released confirmation of additional flights for the peak season. This welcomed news meant that St Helena could cater for the anticipated demand to travel to the Island whilst benefiting Saints, visiting friends and relatives who traditionally return to St Helena for Christmas. This was a positive step for the tourism and business markets with an expectation that there will be an increase in visitor numbers during the summer period. Passengers could book the option of three, four, seven or ten night stays (or indeed longer) on St Helena.
Haunted History Tours (October)
In October St Helena Tourism successfully launched St Helena Haunted History Tours, showcasing the darker history linked to prominent structures and actual events of the past. High Knoll Fort, Plantation House and Oaklands featured in the atmospheric evening excursions, giving full immersion into these and other mysterious locations across the Island.
Carnival is always met with a great crowd thronging the streets, hundreds of spectators and an amazing night of music and dancing throughout Jamestown. This year’s theme was ‘Spirit of the Sea’ and was met with many different costumes ranging from starfish to Whalesharks with many homemade designs, showcasing extraordinary colours.
The St Helena Cancer Support and Awareness charity have organised this event over the past 12 years and fundraising has assisted patients, survivors and families affected by cancer as well as contributing funds to purchase medical equipment to aid diagnosis and recovery. The charity generates funds by kind donations and fund raising events such as Carnival.
The Carnival is the largest event for the Cancer Awareness Month, but is not the only one. The community band together for the month of October to support various events organised by and for the Charity – showcasing the spirit of the Island and its top resource – Its people.
Festival of Running (November)
The St Helena Festival of running is a one of the world’s most remote fitness challenges and pushes the definition of stamina, fortitude and self-discipline. The volcanic topography makes for an arduous victory but one that is rewarded with an exquisite scenic route and doubly takes the breath away. Our 2018 Festival of Running showed growth and promise on an International scale. International competitors were able to join residents to take on the St Helena challenges starting with one of the most far-flung and toughest marathons in the world. Incorporated in the challenges was our historical Jacobs ladder run, the gruelling triathlon and the energy busting trail run – the event finale that takes competitors from the lowest point ascending to finish literally at the top of St Helena’s highest Peak.
Festival of Lights (December)
Snowballing to the top of the festival parade list is the annual Festival of Lights. There is no question that this event with its humble beginnings is now the leading and most anticipated community event of the year. The explosion of colour, lights and excitement is a summary of Island spirit and is the one day the Country is sure to come to town. Forget trying to find a parking space. Taxi is the way to go.
Green Renaissance Films (December)
The crew were back capturing St Helena’s top resource – its people and creating new and fresh inspirational videos of our Saints and our legacies. Together Green Renaissance extensive following and reach has enabled the World a see a snippet of some of the gems in our society. Their work, their pride is sharing ideas and inspiring change.