Tristan da Cunha's Governor
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The role of the Governor
Tristan da Cunha is part of the UK Overseas Territory now known as St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha: one of the remaining former colonies which have not yet asked for independence, and wish specifically to retain their link with the United Kingdom. Britain, through the Territory's Governor (appointed by and representing HM The Queen), retains responsibility for external relations, internal security, defence and the Tristan public service. The Governor, who resides on St Helena, appoints a Tristan da Cunha Administrator to represent him on Tristan.
This page contains reports on Governors Mike Clancy, Andrew Gurr, Mark Capes and Mark Capes
covering the period 2006 - 2016 up to the appointment of Lisa Phillips.
As a new venture we have created a new page dedicated to the period of office of Her Excellency Lisa Phillips,
concentrating on Tristan da Cunha matters, see
Governor Lisa Phillips.
HE Governor Mark Capes visits Tristan aboard RMS St Helena 19th-21st November 2013

Photos from Shirley Squibb show the RMS St Helena off Tristan on 19th November, HE Mark Capes entering Calshot Harbour on the Tristan Police RIB and being welcomed by Tristan Island Councillor Gerald Repetto with Administrator Alex Mitham looking on.
For a full report on the RMS St Helena Visit go to the separateRMS St Helena 2013 Voyage Page.

HE Governor Mark Capes’ Speech at a Reception on Wednesday 20th November
I have waited almost exactly 2 years as Governor to get here but it has been well worth it. I am very pleased to be with you at last to see for myself all that I have heard so much about. That’s very important because having seen Tristan for myself I can argue more convincingly to support Tristan’s case for any support it may need from the UK Government or indeed from elsewhere.
That said, your previous Administrator Sean Burns was an excellent and energetic advocate for Tristan and achieved much in his three years here while also dealing with weighty and unexpected problems such as the MV Oliva incident. I am sure that Alex Mitham will be just as enthusiastic and effective. Alex brings to the job a most valuable and diverse package of skills and experience. Today Tristan has much to be rightly proud of. You have a fine, caring and safe community. A community where the phrase ‘love thy neighbour as thyself’ takes on a very real meaning.
In recent years you have demonstrated careful and responsible management of the island’s finances, a process that called for some tough decisions. This sends a clear message that you are serious about wanting, as far as possible, to manage your own affairs. In aiming to achieve that you will have the full support of the Administrator and me. Responsible financial management strengthens your arm when making the case for assistance with costly capital projects that are quite clearly beyond the reasonable means of the island to finance. So I warmly congratulate the Tristan Council, the CEO and government officials for not being afraid to take the hard but absolutely correct decisions.
After living on small islands for 14 years I know how it can be really tough to make the right decisions and to take the criticism from those in the community that don’t or perhaps won’t understand the reasons. Let us not forget that the UK has been struggling through one of the worst economic recessions for decades and there is some way to go before we are out of the woods. For some time now the message from London to UK government departments has been to find efficiency savings and to do more with less. Against that tough backdrop you have a stronger voice in London because of the careful and responsible way that you have managed your financial position. Well done again to all concerned for a strong performance and I urge you to keep to that path.
We know that Tristan has many good friends around the world – a good number of them are here in this hall tonight. They are fascinated by your history, by your success, your resilience, your kindness and by the warm welcome that you extend to your visitors. But I think it is also your love for your island home that they admire. Perhaps that thought is particularly relevant given that this is the 50 th anniversary of the return to Tristan in 1963. That difficult episode tested the community. I expect there are still questions asked about what lasting impact that enforced absence from Tristan, your home, can be seen in the community today. But what is glaringly obvious to me is that the love Tristanians have for their island is today as strong as ever. Out of the hardship that you, as an entire community successfully endured some 50 years ago, you have emerged stronger. Because of it you can better understand the suffering of others who are tested by disasters, such as we have seen recently in the Philippines. It is much to your credit that you have contributed generously to help our brothers and sisters in the Philippines in their time of need.
So for me it is a privilege and indeed an honour to serve as your Governor. In concluding these brief remarks, I am thrilled to be here on Tristan and I thank you for your warm welcome.

Sean Burns to become Head of the Governor's Office on St Helena

The following Press Release was issued by the St Helena Governor on 28th June 2013

Mr Sean Burns, presently serving as the Administrator on Tristan da Cunha, has been appointed as the next Head of the Governor's Office and will take up the position in January 2014.  The role has been upgraded and will carry additional responsibilities, including that of acting as Acting Governor in the Governor's absence, a change that follows the model used in the Falklands.

Governor Capes said:
'I have worked with Sean in his current role over the past 18 months and have been impressed by his excellent work on Tristan da Cunha. He will bring to the Governor's Office valuable skills and experience to help manage an increasing workload at this exciting period in St Helena's history. He will replace my colleague Clive McGill from whom he will inherit a modernised and well-functioning office with fine support provided by Sandra Sim, Manager of the Governor's Office and from Linda Glanville, PA to the Governor.'

Sean, who will be accompanied by his wife Marina, has served as the Administrator on Tristan for the last three years. Commenting on his new posting, Sean said:
'I am delighted to have been appointed Head of the Governor's Office from January 2014. Marina and I are both really looking forward to working and living on St Helena and getting to know the islanders and the Island.  Although we have never visited, I have learned something about St Helena from my time as the Administrator on Tristan since 2010, and the exciting changes that are taking place. I have also yet to visit Ascension Island but I hope to make an early visit to meet with the Administrator and Councillors there.'

 ‘I joined the FCO in 1978 and have done a range of jobs, including corporate services, management, consular, immigration, project management and HR. My other postings have included Tanzania, Antigua, Bangladesh, Senegal, Kenya and South Korea as well as stints back in London. My wife Marina is a qualified TEFL teacher and has spent the last 17 years teaching English and other subjects, mainly for the British Council. We have two children, Damian (21) and Kelly (23) who both hope to visit us at some point in the posting.'

Administrator's 2012 Old Year's Night Speech

Administrator Sean Burns opened his speech with a message from Governor Mark Capes in which he heralds a planned November visit aboard RMS St Helena in 2013:

‘As 2012 draws to an end we often pause to reflect on some of the key events of the year and it was of course a year in which we celebrated Her Majesty's Diamond Jubilee anniversary of 60 years as Monarch.When Tamara and I had the great pleasure of an audience with Her Majesty earlier this month she asked about developments in Tristan da Cunha and wanted to know if we had made plans to visit the island. I was pleased to be able to confirm to Her Majesty that we will visit Tristan da Cunha in November next year, 2013.  Tamara and I very much look forward to meeting you next year and in the meantime, we wish you and your families a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year' 

Editor's Note
We look forward to reporting on Mark's first visit to Tristan. Before then we will be introducing a new Tristan da Cunha Administrator and whilst it will be very good that the new Administrator will be able to greet the Governor so early in his sojourn, it is regrettable that Mark Capes has not visited Tristan during Sean Burns' administration.

Mark Capes sworn in as Governor

The new Governor of St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, Mark Capes, arrived on St Helena to take up his post on 29th October 2011 and we publish below extracts from his inaugural speech which was issued in full as Public Notice on Tristan da Cunha on 2nd November by Administrator Sean Burns

Sean added that he knew Mark and his wife Tamara are both keen to visit Tristan as soon as they can but the logistics are challenging and a number of options are being considered.

Extracts from Mark Capes' Inauguration Speech

My wife, Tamara and I are thrilled to be to here with you today. We thank you for the warm welcome and also thank all those who organised and participated in this excellent ceremony.

It is indeed a great honour to be appointed to serve as Governor of St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha; it also carries a weighty responsibility. In the months and years ahead I look forward to drawing upon all the skills I have gained over many years as a member of Her Majesty’s Diplomatic Service working in many countries including 12 years in three other Overseas Territories. When I saw the opportunity to serve as Governor here I jumped at it because I saw it as ideally suited to my experience. It is also fair to say that I had also heard much about the beauty of St Helena, the charm of its people and of course of its intriguing history. In carrying out my duties as Governor I give you my assurance that I will seek to be accessible and as transparent and open as possible about government policies and decisions, while fully embracing a spirit of partnership and cooperation with your elected representatives and of course with you, the good people of St Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha. To achieve that I must first get to know you and understand your concerns and your hopes; so I will look forward to engaging closely with you as we settle in to become part of your community. That said we have enjoyed already a marvellous introduction to St Helena by travelling for the last two weeks on the splendid RMS St Helena which I heard some passengers fondly describe as a little piece of St Helena. During that trip we saw the great professionalism of the ship’s crew, experienced their kindness and good humour and in talking to Saints, both passengers and crew, understood the strength of their affection for St Helena, their home. Tamara and I extend our grateful thanks to Captain Greentree and his superb crew for a truly memorable experience.

A moment ago I was sworn in as the Governor OF St Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha. But to my mind I think I see my role more as the Governor FOR St Helena, Ascension and Tristan. It is true of course that, as with all Governors, I have several distinct roles – among them to serve as Her Majesty’s representative; to represent the interests of the UK Government; and to fairly and fully represent the interests of the people of St Helena, Ascension and Tristan to Her Majesty’s Government in the UK. You could quite reasonably argue that in fulfilling those roles from time to time there may be some conflicting interests to manage. But I am pleased to be able to say to you, and with every confidence, that the British Government we have today is one that holds a powerful and genuine sense of commitment to the Overseas Territories.

In London just a few weeks ago I had meetings with the Foreign Secretary, with the Secretary of State for International Development and with other senior Ministers. We met to discuss my priorities on taking up this appointment. I left those meetings feeling greatly encouraged, confident in the knowledge that Ministers in London are fully engaged and keenly interested to ensure that the islands for which I now have responsibility as Governor should have the opportunity to enjoy a secure and prosperous future. We have now the firm foundation for a mutually beneficial working relationship with the UK Government and we must build on that.

This modern working relationship means that the very substantial financial input from the UK tax payer requires commitment from St Helena on various fronts. In keeping with that I know that a great deal of truly impressive work has already taken place here to meet the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding. It is because of the strength of commitment from the UK Government and the equal commitment shown from here to working towards a sustainable future that I think Governor FOR St Helena, Ascension and Tristan fits better with the role that I see ahead.

Tamara and I thank you again for this impressive and warm welcome to your very special island home. Thank you.

Governor Mark Capes to take up post in October 2011

Governor Andrew Gurr has announced that his successor will be Mark Capes. Mark will arrive to become Governor of the UK Overseas Territory of St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha in late October following Andrew Gurr’s departure on 23rd September.

Mark is a member of Her Majesty’s Diplomatic Service and will be accompanied by his wife Tamara. He is presently Chief Executive Officer of the Turks and Caicos Islands Government and previously held the position of Deputy Governor in both Bermuda and Anguilla. His Foreign and Commonwealth Office career has also taken him to Portugal, Jordan, Yugoslavia, Nigeria, Austria and New Zealand.

Asked to comment on his appointment, Mark Capes said:

‘I am delighted to have been given this exciting opportunity to serve as Governor for the people of St Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha at such an important juncture in the history of the islands. As work advances to develop improved access to St Helena, I have no doubt that adjusting to change will bring many new challenges. I know too, from experience in other Overseas Territories, how change may sometimes feel uncomfortable and so I will do my part to ensure that change is managed with sensitivity while enabling as many people as possible to embrace new opportunities to achieve greater prosperity. The broad objective must be to secure a brighter, more confident future for all, while respecting the importance and value of history, custom and culture. Tamara and I very much look forward to being part of your community.’

Mark enjoys spending time with his family and has two daughters, Alexandra, who works in London, and Sarah, who will shortly begin a second Master’s degree course in London. His leisure interests include sea and fresh water fishing as well as enjoying music ‘from Bob Marley to Mozart’. His wife is a keen tennis player and also enjoys reading and working as a volunteer for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

We look forward to hearing of Governor Capes’ plans to visit Tristan da Cunha and hope he can facilitate a return to a regular RMS St Helena voyage to Tristan to achieve this following the highly successful 2006 and 2011 cruises.

Governor Gurr makes his first visit to Tristan da Cunha

Governor Andrew Gurr made his first Tristan visit after his appointment in 2007 aboard the RMS St Helena arriving on Sunday 30th January 2011 for a three-night stopover until Wednesday 2nd February.

His Excellency Governor Gurr departed St Helena aboard the RMS on 18th January 2011. The last visit by a Governor was by Mike Clancy in February 2006.

The Governor and Mrs Gurr hosted a reception on the RMS in Cape Town for those in South Africa who are interested in St Helena or Tristan. Unfortunately Mrs. Gurr will not be able to continue from Cape Town to Tristan as she will be returning to the UK for a family funeral.

When asked about his visit Governor Gurr said:

 “I am really looking forward to visiting an island that must be on all island lovers’ list of places to see. Over the past three years I have been disappointed three times as advanced plans to get to Tristan have fallen through. Now at last I will be able to see the place and meet the people that I have heard so much about. 

Left: Administrator Sean Burns welcoming Governor Andrew Gurr ashore as he arrives at Tristan's Calshot Harbour on Sunday 30th January 2011

RMS St Helena which visited Tristan
with Governor Gurr aboard
from 30th January - 2nd February 2011

Images show Governor Gurr:
Left: Unveiling a plaque to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1961 volcanic eruption
Right: Meeting pensioners
Below Left: Presenting medals

Left: Governor Andrew Gurr with recipients of awards
presented earlier and showing right to left:

Connie Glass who was presented with an MBE
for services to the community of Tristan da Cunha
including his service as Chief Islander and Head of the Police Department

Lewis Glass – presented with the Colonial Special Constabulary Medal

Lindsay Repetto – presented with Colonial Special Constabulary Medal

Stanley Swain – presented with Colonial Fire Brigades Long Service Medal

Departure on 2nd February
Far Right:
Governor Gurr with Stanley Swain
and Head of PWD Henning Myberg
at the harbour
Bidding farewell to
Chief Islander Ian Lavarello
aboard RMS St Helena

Andrew Gurr arrives to take up his post

The new Governor of St Helena and its dependencies of Tristan da Cunha and Ascension Island Andrew Gurr with his wife Jean attending a ceremony in Jamestown St Helena on Sunday 11th November 2007 at which he gave his inaugural address.

We publish below extracts from Andrew's CV and also provide the full text of his inaugural speech on this important occasion for the South Atlantic islands.

Governor Andrew Gurr

Mr Andrew Gurr has been appointed Governor of St Helena in succession to Mr Michael Clancy. Mr Gurr is married with two children, and took up his new appointment in November 2007.

Andrew has wide and interesting experience in business and in South Atlantic Government posts including

2002 - 2007 Non-Executive Chairman of the Cheshire and Warrington Learning and Skills Council and Chairman of ACWI Consultants Ltd
2000 - 2002 Chief Executive, NR International Ltd
1994 - 1999 Chief Executive, Falkland Islands Government
1993 - 1994 Chief Executive the North and Mid Cheshire Training and Enterprise Council

Edited report from a Press Release from Public Relations/Information Office St Helena published 18 September 2007's manager looks forward to news of the Governor's first visit to Tristan da Cunha and hopes this may be aboard the RMS St Helena which has unfortunately abandoned regular trips to St Helena's southern outpost.

500th Anniversary Presentation

Chief Islander Anne Green presents a model longboat to The Governor of St Helena (Tristan da Cunha and Ascension) Mike Clancy at a Commemorative Ceremony to mark the 500th Anniversary of the discovery of the island in February 2006.
Photo. from Philip Moors.

See also RMS St Helena Cruise for further details of the Quincentenary Celebrations

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