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Governor’s message for Ascension Day 2020

21 May 2020


In celebration of Ascension Day, the national day of Ascension, the Governor His Excellency Dr Philip Rushbrook has provided the following message:

Today is Ascension’s national day. A time when I hope you have the chance to appreciate the landscape and variety of our island. Green Mountain for example is a beautiful green oasis and occupies a remarkably futuristic place in history. Without doubt it is the first example of man-made terraforming. When Charles Darwin visited in 1836 he found a barren, treeless place that was useful as a strategic base for ships. However it had a big problem, an insufficient supply of fresh water. In 1847 Joseph Hooker advised the Royal Navy to plant an assortment of plants from around the world on Green Mountain all shipped from Kew Gardens to the island. It worked. The plants captured moisture from passing low clouds, reduced evaporation, established a self-sustaining ecosystem and created soils that retained more water. Look up at the result. You have the privilege of being one of very few in the world able to experience the achievement at first-hand.

Enjoy today, it almost did not happen. When Juan da Nova Castella first arrived at island in 1501 the date of the discovery was unrecorded. Thankfully, the island was re-discovered by Alfonso d'Albuquerque on Ascension Day 1503, 21 May, so the date for our national day became obvious.

Have a memorable and happy time this national day.

The Administrator, His Honour Sean Burns, added:

At a time when many people around the world remain in ‘lockdown’ and unable to enjoy the beauty of the environment that surrounds them, on Ascension we are fortunate enough that we can continue to do so. Since we arrived, Marina and I have enjoyed exploring some of the stunning walks and beaches on the island and been privileged to spend some time with the conservation teams who are studying and managing the diverse marine and terrestrial environments on Ascension.

I appreciate the last few weeks have been a challenging and worrying time for everyone. As we try to balance the need to keep the island working and as normal as possible,  while recognising the risks of the Corona virus arriving here, I have been really impressed with the hard work and pragmatism of all those involved in managing this and how all the organisations and community have worked together for the benefit of us all. Thank you. Enjoy Ascension Day and the weekend.