Old Year’s Night 2021

Reports and photos from Fiona Kilpatrick, James Glass, Kelly Green, Randal Repetto and Steve Townsend


Submitted by the South Atlantic Islands News Team (SAINT)


For “Old Years Night” (New Year’s Eve), it is the tradition on Tristan for the “Okalolies” to dress up and visit the community during the day … well the ones who will let them in.


At 6:00pm in the evening, everyone was invited to a reception held by the co-Administrators Fiona Kilpatrick and Steve Townsend at the “Residency”, followed at 7:30pm by the Chief Islander’s reception held at his home. Both gave lovely speeches. Admin, Steve Townsend, talked about Coronavirus situations and the Marine Protection Zone (MPZ), and thanked the island for their help and solidarity for this year. James Glass’s speech covered similar ground as well as future challenges, but highlighted the fantastic Marine Protection Zone. The new RSPB biologist, Siobhan Vye, ended with a small speech about the MPZ, which is proving to be an example to the world.

The Admins’ Reception

After their activities around the settlement the Okalolies joined the rest of the community, gathered in the Residency garden. Their “Boss Baby” theme was a nod to the boom in births to islanders in the past year.

Co-Administrator Steve Townsend’s Speech

“Thank you all for coming tonight, and I am pleased to see that the Okalolies have made an appearance again this evening. I would like to thank Bev, Leanne, Kelly, Janine and Anita for their work in preparing the food for this evening.


2021 has been a difficult year. On this island, we have been isolated from the worst of the impacts of COVID, but our families and friends who have been to South Africa and the UK have plenty of stories to tell of face-masks and social distancing. I remember when the Urchin came here earlier in the year to pick up James, Simon and Matthew, and the people on board came ashore. They came to the Residency, and I offered my hand in greeting. The passenger, who had come from the UK, looked at me as if I had grown an extra head – he said that he had not shaken anyone’s hand for months, and it had become strange to him.


It looked for a while as if the worst of COVID was over, but then along came Omicron. It seems to be more contagious, but less deadly. But we still do not want it on the island, and will continue to guard against it. Getting the vaccines in June was a major logistical challenge, but also a great success. We are working closely with Public Health England and the FCDO to get booster shots here, hopefully in January or February. Being double vaccinated and boosted seems to be a pretty good defence against even Omicron. The difficulties of keeping it at a steady temperature, and problems in clearing South Africa, continue to make this a difficult task. So we might yet get another fleeting visit from Her Majesty’s navy!


On other topics, we now have legislation in place to formally designate and protect our Marine Protected Zone, which once again put Tristan on the map. The Marine Management Plan has been published, and we will be working with the UK’s Blue Belt and donors to make the Tristan MPZ an example to the world of what can be done by a small community pulling together.

The Atlantic Guardians project has been started. This is backed by money from Blue Nature Alliance, and we are working with the RSPB. Jess Escobar will be coming back in February to run it from here, but we now have Siobhan Vye, who most of you have met, here for a couple of months.

We now have a hydroponics greenhouse, thanks to Neil’s hard work and enthusiasm. This is a pilot project at the moment, but if it is successful he is looking to expand it. That would mean more fresh fruit and vegetables grown on the island. And the new Biosecurity building is also taking shape – in case anyone was wondering, that slab of concrete is not Trevor’s new tennis court!


James attended virtually this year’s Joint Ministerial Council, and had a separate meeting with the new Minister for the Overseas Territories, Mrs Milling. Many thanks to Chris Carney for representing us in the room when James was not able to do so. Tristan was also represented at the COP26 talks in Glasgow, by Steph Martin our Environmental Policy Officer based in the UK. She ensured that Tristan’s voice was kept in the forefront of the Overseas Territories, to the extent of giving a knitted Tristan penguin to Lord Goldsmith! And, of course, Jade Repetto met Prince William and spoke to him about Tristan, so we are very much on the map back in London.


The mice eradication project on Gough took place this year. The whole island was baited with poison, to save the seabirds by killing the rodents which were eating them. The project looked as if it had been a success, but unfortunately a couple of mice have been sighted. The RSPB and its partners are working out what their next steps will be.


The next elections for the Island Council will be in March. The work of the Island Council is essential for the future of Tristan, and I encourage you to consider putting your names forward as Councillors. Fiona and I would like to thank all those who have served on the Council since we have been here, especially James whose advice has, as always, been invaluable. Our thanks also go to Rodney, Ian, Carlene, Kelly, Paul, Warren, to Terrence and Vera, and to Clive, Jason, Dawn and Robin. We would also like to thank Geraldine and Cynthia, who have kept us on the straight and narrow.


As always, this year has seen departures and arrivals. We have lost three dear members of the community, Granny Ellen, Aunt Renee and Uncle Lars, and our thoughts go to their families. We have also welcomed Seren, Summer, Jake and Riley to the island, and we wish them every blessing for their futures.


Finally, you will be pleased to hear, we would like to thank you all for all your friendship and your hard work this year. Please raise your drinks to Tristan, and may 2022 be a peaceful, prosperous and blessed year.”

Chief Islander James Glass’s Speech

“I would like to welcome everyone on this New Year’s Eve. This past year as the one before it, have been full of challenges. COVID has restrict us all, from doing what we would have liked too, especially travel. Although, I know you will agree we are all thankful for those new contractors (Christine, Craig, Dr Grunter, Lucy and Siobhan) that we have manage to get to Tristan.


Other projects have also been impacted. I would still like to see the swimming pool covered, a roads project, bringing in contractors to do all the roads and drainage within the village properly. Renewable energy for every household to reduce everyone’s electricity bill. Waste management etc. Prices continue to rise and before the new financial year Council have agreed there should be a cost of living increase. How much will depend on what savings are made within Government, because although Council makes the decisions, it’s the HOD’s who can really make a difference, and if they don’t perform and reduce wastage, then there’s less funds to be shared with the community.


This is the last year of the Old Council, and I would urge younger people especially families with young children to step up and become councillors, as during the next three years there will be some serious decisions to be made. The most important one will be the renewal of the concession agreement, which will go out for open tender during the term of the next council. Whatever the outcome, it will have an impact on all of us, being the Islands biggest revenue earner.


Felicity and I thank you all for coming, all the helpers and those who contributed and would like to wish you all a very Happy and blessed New Year. And as we head into the New Year, let’s all try and be more tolerant towards one another, as I feel Tristan is losing its respectfulness of one another. Enjoy the rest of the evening.


Chief Islander’s Reception


After the Admins’ reception, the community moved to the garden on the Chief Islander’s home for his reception and speech. They were treated to a stunning sunset.


People dispersed afterwards to their own parties until midnight, when they visited the fishing dong behind Prince Philip Hall to ring in the New Year.