Everything closes on Tristan for four weeks for its Christmas and New Year summer holidays, but there is plenty of time for community activities.

Event News

Old Year's Night 2020

Report and photos from Kelly Green and Sally Wonner

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.

The Okalolies pose for a photo in a garden during their circuit of the community.

The Okalolies pose for a photo in a garden during their circuit of the community.

First Okalolies being greeted by the Admins at their reception

Okalolies and greeted by the Admins at their reception...

Okalolies being greeted by the Admins at their reception

...and then head for the drinks table!

The Administrators' and Chief Islander's Receptions

At 6:00pm in the evening, everyong 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 how the difficult that past year had been for everyone, but thanked the island for their help and solidarity. James Glass's speech covered similar ground as well as future challenges, but highlighted the fantastic Marine Protection Zone set up last year, which is proving to be an example to the world.

Steve Townsend giving his speech at the Admins' Old Year's Night reception

Steve Townsend giving the Administrators' speech at their Old Year's Night reception

The Adminstrators' Speech

Thank you all for coming, and helping see out 2020.

This year has been one for the annals. I think if Sean had stood up this time last year and foreseen all that has struck the island and the world in general, then you would have accused him of possibly one or two too many Tristan tots. It has been a challenge for us all.

On the day in January that Fiona and I got on the boat in Cape Town to come here, there was a small article in New Scientist magazine about a new strain of coronavirus infecting people in Wuhan, China. The article said that there was a concern that it might be highly contagious. Over 1.6 million deaths worldwide later, I think we can say that was an understatement.

COVID has changed the world. We have been fortunate in that it has not made its way onto Tristan. But it has still impacted our lives. Islanders have been stranded in Cape Town for months, our supply lines have been disrupted by lock-down, and the revenue from the lobster has been declined. No tourist vessels have paid us a call. But we are still here, and we are still well. I would like to thank you all for your patience and understanding for the measures that we have had to introduce; especially to the staff at the shop who had to put rationing in place to ensure that everyone got a fair share. I would also like to thank the hospital staff for the work that they did to put us in the best position possible, given the resources we have available. We expect that we will be receiving testing kits and vaccines for all early in the New Year. We are lucky in one way. We can meet in groups like this, as opposed to people in the UK who are having to live under stricter quarantine rules.

No-one foresaw the loss of the Geo Searcher in October. I give thanks that no lives were lost, and I would like to give huge credit to Ian and Rodney for their work to ensure that everyone got off the boat safely and onto Gough. Without their bravery and expertise, the result could have been very different. I also have to give credit to the whole community here, collecting clothes for the crew of the Geo, and demonstrating once again the strong solidarity of those who live by the sea.

In November we announced the Tristan da Cunha Marine Protection Zone (MPZ), covering almost 700,000 square kilometres. This is the largest fully protected area in the Atlantic, and the fourth largest in the world. The new MPZ will help the global effort to protect the world's biodiversity and underlines the island's commitment to the health of the ocean. The establishment of the MPZ raised the profile of Tristan da Cunha, and has been praised by The Prince of Wales, the Prime Minister and Leonardo de Caprio - not a bad mix!

I would also like to remember those islanders who sadly passed away this year. This year the island lost Herbert, Gilbert, Stella and Donald, and our thoughts and prayers go out to their families.

But on a much happier note, we welcomed little Mikayla and also Alfie, the first baby to be born on the island for nine years. Let's wish them every happiness.

Fiona and I have been here for almost a year now. We were not entirely sure what we had volunteered for, and I do not think that anyone who has not been here can really explain living on Tristan. But we would like to thank all of those who have made us so welcome here. Particular thanks go to Beverley, as a fount of knowledge of how Tristan works, and to Cynthia and Geraldine for basically keeping us out of mischief as much as possible.

We would also like to thank all the Island Council for their hard work and cooperation throughout the year, and I would also particularly like to thank James for his support, advice and guidance.

Please can you all raise your glasses, to Tristan da Cunha, and to a happy and prosperous 2021!

The Admins and the drinks table at their reception People at the Administrators' reception
Islanders at the Administrators' reception

James Glass reading his speech at his Chief Islander's reception

James Glass reading his speech at his Chief Islander's reception

Post-Reception Braais

Family braai after the receptions Meat on a family braai after the receptions
After the receptions, families throughout the settlement hold braais and visit each other.

Ringing in the New Year

People gathered by the fishing dong around midnight

Above and below: People gathered by the fishing dong around midnight, ready to ring in the New Year.

People gathered by the fishing dong around midnight

Steve Townsend hitting the fishing dong at midnight Midnight at New Year is the only time that anyone is allowed to ring the fishing dong, which is situated behind Prince Philip Hall.

Admin Steve Townsend (left) and Sally Wonner (right) hitting the fishing dong at midnight.

Below: Sally and Dr Alex Wonner ready to toast the New Year.

Sally and Alex Wonner ready to toast the New Year

Chief Islander's Message for Christmas 2020

To everyone who visits tristandc.com, here's wishing you and your family a Happy and Blessed Christmas and New Year, and thank you for all your support, especially the Tristan Association members.

Tristan da Cunha Chief Islander, James GlassThis year has been like no other and my heart goes out to all of you out there who will be restricted from celebrating Christmas as normal. Watching the BBC News and seeing all the people stranded away from home (especially the drivers of the lorries at Dover and elsewhere) brings home how lucky we are to be on Tristan da Cunha at this time, where we have continued to live as normal, and will be celebrating Christmas with family and friends.

This past year has been tough and difficult decisions were made: we had to cancel all visits from tourist vessels, we had restrictions on people visiting the island, and islanders were stranded in the UK and Cape Town. The island ran short on supplies: we were without fresh fruit for five months and some other items of food ran out. The lobster concession holder lost the vessel Geo Searcher at Gough Island when it hit a rock and sank, but thankfully all 62 on board were saved including the two Tristanian Observers. We announced our Marine Protection Zone (MPZ), the biggest in the South Atlantic, and have a number of projects that will bring benefits to the island over the next few years.

We had a vessel hoping to depart Cape Town on the 12th December 2020 which would have brought family home for Christmas, goods and food for the festive season and presents for the children. This vessel is now only likely to arrive sometime in the New Year. However, if anything, it has taught us how little we really need, and seeing the situation in UK we can be thankful:

  • That everyone is employed, who wishes to work, or if not, at least has a source of income;
  • Everyone owns their own house, no one pays rent and no one is homeless;
  • There is no shortage of food;
  • And, crucially, we have managed to avoid the pandemic virus to date while still getting the supplies we need.

Our revenue will be reduced this year, but we don't owe anyone anything. We are isolated and sometimes complain about what we can't get or do, but the advantages of living on Tristan far outweigh the disadvantages especially at the present time.

I wish you all a very Happy Christmas.

James Glass
Chief Islander

2020 School Christmas Show

St Mary's School presented their Christmas Show to family and friends on Monday 14th December 2020 in the school hall.
Full story >>

Christmas Carol Service 2020

Report and photos by Carlene Glass-Green

The Nine Lessons and Carol Service were held by the Revd. Margaret van den Berg at St Mary's Church on Sunday 13th December 2020 at 5:00pm. This is another celebration where the two island churches come together and hold a joint service.

Congregation singing

The congregation joining in the Christmas carols

The service was very well attended and a wonderful time was had by all present. The children sang "Away in a Manager" supported by Lorraine and Helene, while Marlene played the music on the organ. Vincent Meni and Leon Bredell provided guitar and organ music for the carols. Hopefully this will start a trend for guitarists to come forward and play more often at church services.

Children singing Vincent Meni and Leon Bredell on guitars, and Marlene Swain on organ
Children's choir, with Marlene Swain on organ Vincent Meni and Leon Bredell on guitars
Reading from Lars Repetto Reading from Anne Green Reading from Lorraine Repetto
Lars Repetto & Anne Green, representing St Mary's & St Joseph's churches, and Lorraine Repetto reading lessons.

Helene Jaumotte, Vincent Meni and Leon Bredell with the child singers

Helene Jaumotte, Vincent Meni and Leon Bredell with the children's choir.

Sheep Shearing Day, December 2020

Report and photos from Kelly Green and Rachel Green

Sheep Shearing was held on Saturday 12th of December 2020. It was a lovely day and the children were very excited as it was Sheep Shearing Day! Everyone (mainly the children) enjoyed running and chasing, trying to catch the sheep and lambs. They then had the very tricky task of bringing them to the individual family pens, hoping they didn't get away. Everyone enjoyed their day out and afterwards families gathered to have a braai and relax after a hard day of chasing and shearing sheep.


Landscape view of the sheep pens with Hillpiece behind

Sheep gathered for shearing in the little pen Men shearing sheep

Above: The sheep brought in the little pens...

... from where they are taken to be sheared by the men.


Children enjoying the Sheep Shearing Day

Children enjoying the day.