The Falkland Islands. If you get the opportunity, go there and experience a way of life we have sadly forgotten, writes Allen Wilson.
For instance, the ability to leave our cars and properties unlocked, strangers saying hello and welcoming you into their homes. Having said that, 18 hours of flying each way takes a toll. Following my trip, I watched on television, HRH Prince William disembarking from the same plane as I had travelled in, yet somehow looking remarkably fresher than I did. According to Wikipedia, the Falkland Islands are an archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean, located over 250 nautical miles East of the coast of mainland South America. The island group consists of East Falkland, West Falkland, and 776 lesser islands. Stanley, the capital and only city, is on East Falkland.
The islands are a self-governing British Overseas Territory, with the United Kingdom responsible for its defence and foreign affairs.
At various times there have been French, British, Spanish, and Argentine settlements. Britain re-established its rule in 1833, yet the islands continue to be claimed by Argentina. In 1982, following Argentina’s invasion of the islands, the two-month-long undeclared Falklands War between both countries resulted in the withdrawal of Argentine forces. Despite its defeat, Argentina still pursues its claim. The population, estimated at 3,140, primarily consists of Falkland Islanders, the majority of British descent. Other ethnicities include French, Gibraltarian, and Scandinavian. Immigration from the United Kingdom, Saint Helena, and Chile has reversed a former population decline. The predominant and official language is English and the Falkland Islanders are British citizens. The Falkland islands have two commercial pools, one in Stanley and one in Mount Pleasant. Both pools are crying out for refurbishment. Motivated staff have somehow managed, over the years, to keep these pools running in the face of adversity we would not, or could not appreciate. Where we would simply get a ‘poolie’ in, they have to make do and mend. This is reminiscent of when I worked in Cuba a few years ago where they somehow manage to keep 50 year old American cars running.
Now these pools have reached the stage where they need a long list of improvements to bring them up to modern standards. This
includes automatic dosing systems, vinyl liner or re-grouting, Ultra Violet systems, salt chlorinators, media replacement, double
width top steps… the list goes on. This would also provide the unique opportunity to work somewhere different, somewhere that we all feel we know from avidly following the war on our televisions 30 years ago. If you are interested give me a call.
Three days of delivering the ISPEendorsed pool plant operators course to pool staff at both the Stanley and Mount Pleasant
Leisure Centres, plus one day consultancy, left me with four days to savour the islands in a Land Rover defender, supplied courtesy of the Falklands Government.
Steve Dent, Director of Projects for the island and his family kindly took the time to show me various war locations. This unique opportunity to visit the war graves of military forces, both allied and Argentineans, left me with two overwhelming emotional
memories.At various commemorative cairns, Steve’s young family members took tins of Brasso and cloths from ‘ammo’ chests at the rear of the cairn and polished the brass plaques. This was done unbidden in a manner that was completely natural to the children. The second memory was of the Argentinean cemetery at Goose Green where the graves of more than two hundred unidentified soldiers bore the simple statement ‘Soldado Argentino, solo conocido por dios’, ‘Argentine soldier, known only to God’. Visiting an unstaffed museum at Goose Green that was open 24/7, I handled rifles, grenade launchers and similar armaments displayed there. My thoughts swiftly took me to what would happen to this weaponry in the UK, but in the Falklands, crimes of that nature obviously does not happen. On a beautiful January summer’s day I drove, from where the British forces landed in San Carlos in 1982, back to Stanley and it took me three hours to do the 70 odd miles on unpaved roads, without spotting a single tree. How our forces walked (yomped) it in freezing, June winter conditions, battered by snow, rain and gale
force winds, across terrain designed to twist or break ankles, carrying more than 50 kilos of kit just demonstrates how superb our
fighting forces are and just how fortunate we are, to have them.