The annual Falklands memorial service at the Cenotaph took place on the 8th December in brilliant sunshine. On this day in 1914, the naval Battle of the Falkland Islands took place and the ceremony is a commemoration of those who gave their lives then. It also honours those who fell liberating the Islands from Argentine occupation in 1982.
Parade Marshal was Colonel Mike Bowles, a veteran of the 1982 War, and member of the Falkland Islands Association committee. The Colour Party and escorts were provided by Pangbourne College cadets and HMS PRESIDENT. A Royal Marine Bugler signalled the minute’s silence. The service was conducted by the Reverend Dr Richard Hines, former vicar of Christchurch Cathedral in Stanley.
Wreaths were laid for Britain’s Armed Forces by Brigadier William Aldridge CBE, a former Commander British Forces Falkland Islands, by Ms. Teslyn Barkman, Member of the Legislative Assembly of the Falklands, by Mr Andrew Rosindell MP for the Falkland Islands All-Party Parliamentary Group, by Mr Alan Huckle, for the Falkland Islands Association, by Mrs. Sara Jones, widow of Colonel Jones VC, on behalf of Falklands Families Association, by Mr. Zoran Zuvic Bulic for the Falkland Islands Defence force, by Mr. Andrew Lockett for the South Atlantic Medal Association, by Mr. Colin Vitler for the HMS PROTECTOR Association, by Mr. John Kingsmell, for the Association of Men of Kent & Kentish Men; and by Falklands students in Britain for the young people of the Falkland Islands.
The AGM of the Falkland Islands Association took place immediately after the ceremony at the Cenotaph.
Association Chairman, former Falklands Governor Mr Alan Huckle, gave a summary of events affecting the Islands.
He reported that UK – Argentine relations had improved with President Macri’s policy of trying to establish improved business relations with Britain, with the successful identification by DNA analysis of more of the Argentine soldiers who fell in the 1982 War, and with British help in the search for the lost Argentine submarine the San Juan. He said that this was reflected in the exchange of fisheries information with Argentina, and the announcement of a second weekly commercial flight from the Falklands - to Sao Paulo in Brazil, with a stopover of one of these weekly flights per month at Cordoba in Argentina. But he reported that there had not been progress yet in the lifting of Argentine restrictions on Falklands’ commerce. Mr. Huckle also reported that President Macri had been weakened by the economic crisis in Argentina, which had required a stand-by loan of 65 Billion dollars from the IMF.
Mr. Huckle warned that Brexit was a concern for the Falklands, as 90 percent of the products of the Falklands fishing industry went to the European Union, where they currently had tax and quota-free access, and that fisheries accounted for 40 percent of Falklands’ government income.
This AGM was the last as Chairman for Mr. Huckle who is retiring after seven years as leader of the Falkland Islands Association. He paid tribute to the work of the Committee, particularly Colonel Tym Marsh the Hon Secretary and Hon Treasurer. Mr. Huckle was presented with gifts in appreciation of his years of hard work.
Mr Andrew Rosindell MP spoke assuring the Association of continuing Parliamentary support for the Falklands and other British Overseas Territories. He stressed that the Overseas Territories were no longer colonies and had the right to choose their own destiny and that their future could not just be decided in Britain, but only in consultation with the territories themselves. Mr. Rosindell thanked the Association for the support it provides to the Falklands. And he paid tribute to Mr. Huckle for his years of service.
Ms Teslyn Barkman, a Member of the Falklands Legislative Assembly, addressed the Association saying that while it would be easy to be disheartened over Brexit, or negative attitudes towards our society, Falkland Islanders always find opportunities to turn such things to their advantage; seizing platforms to share with the World the truth about the Islands and its progressive economy and governance. She thanked Mr. Huckle for his dedicated service.
Mr. John Duncan OBE was elected unanimously to succeed Mr. Huckle as Chairman of the Association. Mr. Duncan joined the Foreign Office in 1980 following studies at the Sorbonne in Paris and Keele University in Staffordshire. He is also a graduate of the NATO Defence College. His distinguished career in the Foreign Office and Commonwealth Office included 5 years as British Ambassador to the UN for Arms Control and Disarmament, as well as four months as Acting Governor of the Falklands in 2014 during the hiatus between the governorships of Nigel Haywood and Colin Roberts. He was awarded his OBE in 1993, and was decorated by both the American Army and NATO for his work in Kosovo. He was also Governor of the British Virgin Islands from 2014 to 2017. He ended his FCO career this year as Director at the FCO for Southern Ocean Territories and Overseas Territories Financial Services.
Mr. Duncan spoke last saying how honoured and delighted he was to take on the role of Chairman of the Association. He said that the Falklands had been part of his life for 20 years. He recalled his time in the Falklands, and his belief in the justice of its cause. He paid tribute to Mr. Huckle for his years of service, and to the Committee. He said the Association was valuable as a support to the Islanders in turbulent times, and he hoped to expand its membership, make its activities more profound, and to find new ways of supporting the Falklands.
Peter Pepper. London.