News for 2013 from the Tristan da Cunha community.
New bench presented by Governor Mark Capes is used for the first time

Administrator Alex Mitham is delighted with the new bench which has been located at a key vantage point overlooking Calshot Harbour, and the island community was touched by the Governors' generosity.

The bench can be used for:

  • Pensioners to take a rest after standing for hours processing the Lobster (in the factory next to the site)
  • Letting the fisherman’s families watch them come in after a day’s catch
  • Allows Tristanians to watch the offloading of cargo from the Edinburgh and Baltic, as well as the offloading of tourist to the islands
  • Provides the community a perfect view of the sea to hopefully watch one day a new harbour being created.
  • Lastly it allows people to savour the smell of the famous rock lobster which is so important both financially and culturally to the island!
Photo from Geraldine Repetto of the Tristan Island Council sitting on and behind a new bench presented by HE Governor Mark Capes to mark the 50th Anniversary of the island's re-settlement when he visited aboard RMS St Helena in November 2013 prior to their last 2013 meeting on 19th December.

See Island Council Page for identification.

Pensioners' Christmas Tea Party

A pre-Christmas Tea Party was organised by Tristan Administrator Alex Mitham's wife Hasene and held in the Prince Philip Hall on Wednesday 11th December from 3pm. Photographs from Alex show the gathering viewed from both ends with Hasene standing and looking right in the left photo. Tristan's Christmas and New Year summer holiday is a most distinctive part of the social calendar and the full range of events can be followed on the Christmas and New Year 2013/14 Page.

Long Johns replace Tristan Men's Trousers and Shorts for one day's special photo shoot
but will the women be impressed? ... should the photos be censored? .... read on to find out....

Photos by Dawn Repetto
who managed to persuade
Tristan men to sport
Long Johns as alternatives
to their usual trousers
in this winter 2013 unique photo-shoot

A UK underwear company called ‘Deadgoodundies’ have sent a shipment containing 45 pairs of HOM and Jockey
‘Long Johns’ to Tristan. The consignment was organised by company partner Jane Garner who helped with branding for the 37 Degrees South handmade knitwear collection and arrived in July.

Several Tristan men proved good sports on the photo shoot day in August as they posed in the new Long Johns. Of course usually they would also wear trousers! Dawn's photos show them about the village going about their daily tasks.

Dawn spoke to one elderly gent who said
"Ya they’s rale warm,
the easterly wind can’t get through ‘em".

It is often said on the island that
easterly is a lazy wind
because it doesn't go around you,
it goes through you.

Maybe winters will never be the same again?

If you fancy donning the Long Johns to keep the wind out this winter check out

Men have been spotted
wearing them to sea,
up the mountain herding sheep
and out at the Potato Patches,
and when it’s really cold, to bed as well! 

Dawn reports that few of the island ladies
have been yearning after a pair
especially when working
in the factory on cold evenings.

Farewell Reception given by Sean and Marina Burns on Saturday 21st September
Report and photos from Dawn Repetto
On Saturday 21st September Administrator Sean Burns and his wife Marina held a reception for islanders and visitors in the Prince Philip Hall. Sean gave a speech thanking everybody for his three years on Tristan and he welcomed the Agulhas visitors and the new Administrator Alex Mitham and his wife Hasene. There was a very good turnout and it was followed afterwards with a dance. Everyone had a great time dancing the night away.

The Atlantic Fresh catering team who were busy preparing a delicious buffet.

Enjoying food and drinks


Left: Sean Burns making his speech of thanks and welcome.
Left to right: Marina Burns, Hasene Mitham, Sean Burns and Alex Mitham .
Right: Chief Islander Ian Lavarello presents Sean and Marina with a model longboat and a plaque with Alex Mitham looking on.


Left: Ian Lavarello thanking Sean and Marina and welcoming Alex and Hasene

Right: Alex Mitham and the company propose a toast to Sean and Marina




Enjoying the dance

Reception to celebrate the award of the BEM to Gladys Lavarello
A Reception at The Residency on Thursday 5th September celebrated the award of a BEM to Gladys Lavarello
in recognition of the service Gladys gave to the community as a midwife. The medal itself will be awarded when the
Governor visits aboard RMS St Helena in November.

Photos from Sean Burns show scenes during the Reception featuring,
left, Gladys with her close family and right, Sean addressing the gathering.

In his speech Sean said ' Gladys started her midwifery training with her mother Mary Swain in 1972.
The first baby she delivered was Aron Swain in 1972.
Gladys completed her training on St Helena where she was for six months.
This was a hard time as she had to leave her family behind on Tristan.
While there, she delivered 56 babies, including twins.
She returned to Tristan in 1973 and took up the position as the island's midwife.
Gladys retired when she turned 65 but did not stop there.
For the next 11 years she carried on as the midwife on a voluntary and unpaid basis.
The island community is delighted that her work and dedication have been recognised by Her Majesty the Queen.'

Administrator’s Farewell Tea Party for the Tristan Pensioners
Report from Marina Burns and Photos from Tina Glass

Serving drinks and food from the buffet

On Thursday 22nd August the island pensioners joined Sean and Marina at the Prince Philip Hall for the first of several farewell functions. The pensioners are the backbone of island society and over the last three years have provided Sean and Marina with support, advice and a plethora of fascinating anecdotes from Tristan’s earlier days.

The girls from Class 5 of St Mary's School did a superb job of serving the tea and coffee, while the guests tucked into a spread of tasty savoury and sweet dishes prepared by Beverly Repetto and her team. In addition, there were contributions from several island ladies. Cynthia Green and her assistants attended to the ‘Tristan Tots’ and the afternoon concluded with a few words of thanks from Sean, who toasted Tristan and its people

Scenes in the Prince Philip Hall during the successful event

Sean thanking the Tristan Pensioners and proposing a toast to their good health

June Pensioners' Gathering
Report from Tina Glass

On the 13th June another Pensioners Gathering was arranged at the Post Office and Tourism Centre.
It was a very successful event where they all could meet together for a chat. There was an attendance of 37 pensioners, which was definitely a full house. They were all welcomed and thanked for coming along. Transport was provided for those who needed it.

The afternoon got started with bingo and card playing, with prizes being awarded to all the winners.
The first bingo winners were, James Green for the first line and Mary Glass for full house. The second game winners were Gladys Lavarello for a first line and Mary Glass again, with another full house. Harold Green and Ches Lavarello won the highest score of games for card playing.

Refreshments were served with lots of cakes and savouries donated by some of the teachers at St Mary's School.

Two Tristan DVDs were shown, Tristan On ITV and Allan Crawford's, Tristan da Cunha, which they enjoyed immensely. We hope to organise draughts/checkers following a request.

Eyes Down! Views of bingo and the men's card game at the Pensioners' June Gathering from Tina Glass

April Pensioners' Social
Photos and Report from Tina Glass

On the afternoon of 30th April Tourism staff arranged another Pensioner’s get together in the Post Office and Tourism Centre. Unfortunately only 14 attended, as there was a strong gale from the southwest.
The bingo was again popular and winners were, Martha Glass for the first line and Jeanette Lavarello for full house. The second game played, Isobel Swain won first line and lucky Jeanette Lavarello won for a second time with the full house.
Ches Lavarello won cards with the highest score. Prizes were awarded to
all winners. After the games were completed refreshments of cakes and savouries donated by some island ladies were served.
Finally they were shown a selection of old black and white photos taken by Father Neaum during his stay on the island with his family from 1953 to 1956. The photos were kindly donated by his son Andrew Neaum who visited Tristan on the 2012 Agulhas II trip.
It was a very successful event and enjoyed by all, despite the bad weather.

Tina's photographs show scenes at the social in the Post Office and Tourism Centre.The centre picture above shows Ernie Repetto concentrating on his hand sitting opposite the eventual winner Ches Lavarello.

Pensioners' Day on 26th February
Report and photos from Tina Glass

Eyes Down!

Right: The lunch buffet spread

The card school of Harold Green, Piers Hagan, Gilbert Lavarello
and Ernest Repetto
On the 26th February at 1pm the Tourism staff and Marina Burns arranged another Pensioners' get together in the Post Office and Tourism Centre. Whilst some preferred to knit and chat amongst themselves, others played bingo or cards.

The bingo was again popular and winners were, Gracie Glass for the first line and Agnes Lavarello for full house. The second game played, Monica Glass won first line and Amy Green full house.

Piers Hagan won cards with the highest score. Prizes were awarded to all winners.

After the games were completed refreshments of cakes and savouries donated by some island ladies were served.

Finally a DVD was shown about the day that the Traditional Thatched House was thatched. They thoroughly enjoyed it and brought many memories back to them of the days when they use to take part in thatching every Islanders' house before solid roofing was introduced.

It was a very successful and well-attended event enjoyed by all.


Belated but Brilliant Burns Night on 15th February
Report from Dr Iain Levack and photos from Lorraine Repetto

Given the Scottish origin of William Glass it is entirely appropriate, if a little belated, for Tristan to have celebrated its first Burns night. On Friday 15th February 2013, 46 islanders and expats gathered in The Prince Philip Hall beautifully set up by Atlantic Fresh (Lorraine, Dawn, Paula and Emma).

The evening was hosted by Pamela and Iain Levack who have completed a five month stint as joint medical officer. The Selkirk Grace was given by Eddie Rogers which was followed by Scotch Broth. To the skirl of Scotland the Brave bagpipes from the generously loud Wharfdale speakers, the Atlantic Fresh team marched in the Haggis and were received with the customary quaich and a “Slainthe mhath”. Iain then recited the Address to the Haggis to the unusually subdued diners most of whom had never experienced anything quite like it.

Tables ready for the guests

Traditional Cranachan (oatmeal, cream, whisky & Tristan berries) was for pudding and the whole meal was accompanied by John Barleycorn, wine and usquabe (whisky) in what could best be described as Tristan tots. A slide show of Scottish scenes with accompanying Scots music played throughout the meal.

Iain’s Immortal Memory drew comparison between William Glass and Robert Burns. They both lived around the time of the start of the 19 th century, their places of birth in Scotland, Kelso and Alloway, were within 100 miles, Glass had 16 children and Burns 12. They both found Liberty; Glass on Tristan and Burns in his poetry and songs. They differed in that Burns’ life was cut short aged 37 years. As in Tam O’Shanter“The night drave on wi’ sangs and clatter, and ay the ale was growing better” the Expats toasted the Islanders and the whole company raised a glass to Absent Friends.

Pamela and Iain Levack

The Chief Islander (Ian Lavarello) replied using some carefully rehearsed Scottish-isms which were well pronounced and of which Burns would have approved. He then called upon everyone to toast Burns’ Immortal Memory.

Photo left shows Ian Lavarello rising to the occasion

Views of the Burns Night Dinner
which transformed
the Prince Philip Hall
on 15th February

The Programme part of the evening was concluded by the Administrator (Sean Burns) whose vote of thanks to Atlantic Fresh was loudly supported while Kobus (CEO) was credited for sourcing and ensuring safe shipment of the Haggis. It was also a fitting occasion for Sean to recognize Stanley Swain whose retirement from the Public Works Department had taken place earlier in the day. This too was warmly acknowledged by the happy gathering, who, without exception, had enjoyed their haggis and were up for a late night. Perhaps Tristan will adopt the Burns tradition?

Photo right shows Sean Burns donning a tartan tie as he concludes the Burns' programme

Stan Swain's Retirement Party

Report and photo showing Stan with his colleagues and friends from Dawn Repetto

Stan Swain was due to retire in August 2013 but he has accumulated enough leave to take early retirement and will be therefore retiring on Friday 15th February.

On Saturday 9th February the Electrical and Plumbing Department held a surprise braai party for Stan. To get him to the venue without his knowledge a member of the Department rang him to tell him the Hospital fridge had broken down and so of course Stan (being so dedicated and knowing it contained the Hospital’s medicines/vaccinations even though it was Saturday) rushed to our house to pick up Robin. To his surprise everyone was there waiting for him and of course there was no fridge emergency.

Stan was given a parting gift from his Department which contained a Fishing Rod and Fishing gear.
His colleagues hope this will assist him in having a long and relaxing retirement.
Stan will be missed by his colleagues who know he will leave behind very big shoes to fill.

Stan has worked for the Electrical and Plumbing Department close on 50 years and has been running the Department since 20th December 1982. He has also been responsible for Tristan's Fire Department and became Harbour Master on 27th January 1989.