Falkland Islands: Weekly Penguin News Update
Headlines: Nigel our new man at the Big House; Threat to Airbridge; Next of kin trip.
Nigel our new man at the Big House
GOVERNOR designate Nigel Haywood will hit the ground running – literally – when he takes up his new post in September next year.
And the career diplomat, a keen marathon runner and fly fisherman, says he is well prepared for the country’s notoriously fickle climate.
In an exclusive interview with the Penguin News – from his garden shed in Dorset – Mr Haywood said he was eager to immerse himself in the Falklands community.
“The way I have approached previous jobs is to get involved as soon as I can and as often as I can,” he said. “And that is to basically just jump in at the deep end and swim.”
Given his track record to date, in a career which has taken him as far a field as South Africa, Estonia and Iraq, it’s an approach which has stood him in good stead.
Even if, in Basra, he sometimes wasn’t able to stand up at all: “There aren’t many jobs where you are speaking to people on the phone under your desk while people are firing rockets at you,” he said.
Born in the Surrey farming village of Betchworth, midway between Dorking and Reigate, Mr Haywood spent much of his early years in Cornwall: “My father died when I was nine, so we went back to where my mother was from.”
His formal education and training led him from Truro School to New College, Oxford, where he read English, and then to Sandhurst military academy, before returning to Oxford to earn a masters degree in the history of language.
Since joining the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1983, his tours have also taken him to Ireland, Budapest, Israel, Lebanon and Vienna.
But it was during his most recent assignments in Estonia and Iraq, as Ambassador and Consul-General respectively, where he cut his teeth as a Governor in the making – and gained priceless expertise in areas which will become evident when Governor Alan Huckle eventually hands over the keys to Government House.
Chief among these have been developing key relationships within tourism and conservation, as well as working closely with the military to help rebuild Basra after the rebel militia were routed in April last year.
“They were the bad guys who were firing rockets at us,” he said. “It was ten a day at first, but then it went down to only one or two a week.
“The military commander, Major-General Andy Salmon, was a troop leader in the Falklands conflict. He was absolutely first class in understanding how the military could link in with civilian efforts. We worked together a on reconstruction effort, which was great.”
His interest in tourism, particularly, is another of the “big attractions” of moving south.
“I know there is a lot of expertise and enthusiasm in developing all sorts of economic activity in the Falklands, one of which is tourism, especially eco-tourism and wildlife tourism. You have big challenges with that, and I expect to learn a lot.”
He also will be taking a keen interest in the country’s initiatives in conservation and biodiversity – the subject of a third degree he is currently studying.
“The biodiversity plan for the Falklands is a very advanced document with a lot of expertise in it,” he said. “It is very encouraging.”
While preferring not to comment in any depth on the country’s relationship with Argentina – “there are still some difficult discussions going on” – he was nevertheless happy to correct one of the misconceptions recorded against his CV.
“Some fascinating things have been written about me, but not all of them are true,” he said. “I am a Cornish bard, but none of this is to say I speak the language. No one speaks Cornish as such. It is not a living language.”
But marathon running is a given on his recreational agenda, having competed in dozens, and clocking up an impressive personal best of 3:13 hours. Continued on page 2
Threat to Airbridge
WITH the future frequency of the airbridge still unresolved, the government is wracking its collective brains to come up with a solution to secure future availability for civilian passengers.
RAF flights between Brize Norton and MPA were last year increased to two per week from three per fortnight. But in an effort to reduce costs, the MoD is considering reverting to three flights per fortnight.
Meanwhile, said Councillor Mike Summers, government is considering options which may secure seats at fixed prices: “We are looking at the possibility of pre-purchasing our seats so they are available at a given price. But that involves (financial) risk.”
Next of kin trip
FOR half a dozen unassuming Argentines, last week’s trip to the Falklands marked yet another step closer in their efforts to achieve a landmark commemoration for their countrymen who died in the 1982 war. Led by Argentine Families Commission president Hector Omar Cisneros (above), whose brother died in the firefight at Two Sisters, they spoke of their desire to extend an invitation not only to their official hosts, but to any Islanders who wished to attend the dedication ceremonies on October 3 and 10. Our representatives, and a number of other community leaders, reciprocated warmly. Penguin News editor Tony Curran presents a special report on page 5...