The St Helena Government U.K Representative, Kedell Worboys MBE recently returned to St Helena for her annual briefing. She has become a significant figure in the history of the island, being the woman that signed the airport contract on behalf of the St Helenian community. Kedell recalls "We'd been so close before and even the day before I'd actually sat in DFID's offices and initialled every single page of the contract three times over. It wasn't until I went in the next day and the minister said to me, 'Kedell do you really now believe it's going to happen'...it was a very exciting day but a very emotional one" It is appropriate that she is able to return and experience the local 'airport buzz'.
The airport is very much debated among the community. With the ever growing presence of Basil Read, work is in full flow. Hiring local people, the excitement of rock blasting and the flashy vehicles cruising our roads keeps the airport ever present in our minds. The nervous anticipation in the community is noticeable. Anxiety can be soothed by finding the positives in the situation. For many years now the declining population on island has been an issue. Kedell sees this as an opportunity for friends and family living abroad to return. "I want to meet with people like Basil Read so I can get a feel for them to see what their plans are. For example, I know they want to recruit a lot of plant operators. In Swindon there are lots of Saints who have U.K qualifications. I'd like to find out if Basil Read would help us with relocation costs."
Kedell is also a director of St Helena Line. Any changes to the schedule of the R.M.S or increase in fares is first recommended by St Helena Line. Kedell confirms "we make the recommendations but the ultimate decision is made by the access and transport committee in EXCO....the policies are made by the politicians on island."
She emphasises the 'potential' of the Island; her outlook is positive and she believes the Island and it's people can achieve much more. A part of that 'potential' is the Island's youth. Although the pastoral care of scholarship students is a part of her job, she takes a close personal interest in student's development "It's a very interesting part of the role because I see them develop. I encourage them to think one day they'll return to St Helena and they will play a key role in our development. My advice to them is always to aim high. They are excellent ambassadors for the Island." Kedell feels that the youth can "do so much more."
For the past twelve years Kedell has been the St Helena Government U.K Representative, her enthusiasm for her job is still strong "For me this is not a job. It's me being involved in St Helena, I'm really passionate about the Island. I think St Helena has so much potential". For the work she has done for the island Kedell has received the honour of being made a M.B.E. I'm surprised to learn her proudest moment has not been a personal achievement but one that has been significant to the Island and it's community. "Other than signing the airport contract, when we go back to 21st May 2002 my proudest moment in the job was the restoration of British Citizenship."
What happens when the Airport is completed? Looking into the future the island could prosper. The wealth of the airport shifting St Helena from an island that relies on the public sector, to a place whose private sector drives an independent sustainable economy. This will not be something that can happen quickly. It will take the hard work and the commitment of the community. St Helena will not be expected to move forward alone. "The coalition government we have in the U.K are extremely supportive of its overseas territory...of course St Helena has to keep its part of the bargain. Ministers of D.F.I.D and the Foreign Office will support St Helena as long as we demonstrate we're doing what we need to do".