Dr Philip Rushbrook sends a special Tristan message

Governor's Easter Message

Message from the Governor to Tristan da Cunha

Governor-elect Dr Philip Rushbrook meets Chief Islander James Glass at the Tristan da Cunha Annual Gathering 2019 in Southampton

Governor Philip Rusbrook with Chief Islander James Glass and his wife Felicity
at the 2019 Tristan Association Annual Gathering held in Southampton.

Easter is a time to celebrate Jesus Christ’s resurrection after a period of despair following his crucifixion. These few days in the annual calendar symbolise a victory over death and the prospect of eternal life. The religious significance is of paramount importance to one’s faith. At this important time I offer my sincere best wishes to all on Tristan da Cunha.

In some respects there seems to be a painful parallel with the story of Easter in our secular world today. Many of our fellow souls in numerous countries are directly engaged in achieving their own victory over the possibility of pain, or worse, from the largest viral pandemic for one hundred years. The consequences of the transmission of Covid19 across the globe can be seen on our televisions every evening. It is the darkest of times for many societies for whom it is not yet possible to see a way ahead whilst so many are losing their lives to the effects of this illness. But, there will be a victory. With the emphasis on hygiene and social isolation we have seen, improvement will prevail in time, along with the prospect of renewed freedoms and perhaps a wiser life. It will take more than the three days of Easter but the human spirit to adapt and respond should never be under-estimated.

In my regular calls with Fiona, your Administrator, I have been well informed about the measures taken on Tristan da Cunha to prevent the Covid-19 virus from arriving. The suspension of cruise ship arrivals; 14 days self-isolation for new arrivals; and a personal discipline to increase hand washing, clean surfaces and maintain a respectful distance to lower the possibility of any virus transmission, are the sensible things to do. We should neither be complacent nor excessive in the measures we follow. They should be ones tailored to the circumstances we have in our own community and not necessarily those we see elsewhere where their situations are more severe. There is no evidence of the virus being present on island so the more extreme restrictions seen elsewhere of lock downs and curfews are not necessary.

I would like to thank the elected Councillors and all working in the island administration for your swift and effective preparations. Your direct assistance too in the complex task to find suitable ways for those on Gough Island to return to their home countries has been highly appreciated by many in the UK. The public sector on Tristan, in the Governor’s Office, and in FCO and DFID in the UK are all working in a fast moving environment. From time to time advice from public health organisations and the methods to follow to stay safe may vary as more is understood about this virus. We then have to follow the advice as best we can with the resources we have available.

It is my wish every person remains wary of wild ideas that circulate in times of uncertainty. Taking a pragmatic and thoughtful approach to dealing with each new challenge as it arises is our normal approach to the demands of life. Therefore, it should be no different when dealing with the issues thrown up by preventing the virus from reaching the island.

We also all have a role to play in our pursuit to return to a normal life. There may be voluntary jobs to do to help the administration, or community jobs to help our vulnerable members in their homes, or simply personal good sense doing your bit through promoting social distancing and good hand hygiene.

Our lives and opportunities will eventually return to normal and I hope this will be as soon as possible. Similarly, the economic uncertainties of the moment will be dispelled. This time too, I look forward to my plans to visit Tristan da Cunha in September with my wife coming to fruition. Until then, I wish everyone on the island my personal best wishes.


Philip Rushbrook

Governor of Tristan da Cunha

12th April 2020