Friday, April 22, 2016

Sale of One of the Last RMS Freight and Passenger Ships Stirs Memories of St Helena

Commemorative Poster Available to Celebrate the End of an Era
Shipping News Feature
UK – ST. HELENA – WORLDWIDE – It is a fact of life that some stories spark the imagination more than the usual freight trade related tales and press releases and this was certainly the case when earlier this month we published the up and coming sale of one of the last two passenger and cargo ships still working which bear the prestigious ‘RMS’ prefix, designating them as Royal Mail Ships, the RMS St Helena.

Amongst the feedback came an email from an artistic lady, currently residing in Bristol, but for whom the South Atlantic Island will plainly mean home, as it does for her husband, another native St Helenian. Emma-Jane Richards is much saddened by the retirement of a vessel upon which the couple have travelled for well over two decades and decided to celebrate and commemorate the ship’s withdrawal by designing and publishing a commemorative poster, copies of which are now available. She writes:

"Next year we and countless others will wave goodbye to the RMS St Helena, who after 26 years of loyal service will sail off into the sunset one last time to make way for a new era in St Helena’s history as we welcome our first airport. When I was younger I always hesitated when someone asked me ‘where are you from? I can’t quite pin down your accent’. Not because I am embarrassed of my heritage or the way I sound. On the contrary I am very proud of where I’m from. No, my hesitation comes solely from explaining, what often is met with bewilderment; that I am from a small isolated, obscure Island in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean. That remote outcrop of volcanic rock is one of a few remaining British Overseas Territories around the world; St Helena Island.

"The bewilderment and disbelief quickly changes into pure excitement when people find out just how isolated St Helena is and the logistics of how you get there. Up until now the only way to access the Island was via sea. Yes, you read right, in a world where the other side of the world is just 24 hours flight away or you can jet off for a weekend to any major European city in the course of just a few hours, you still have to make a epic journey to reach a place like St Helena.

"At its quickest route you fly for some 9 hours to the closest land mass; it’s sister Island Ascension, where you board one of the last remaining Royal Mail Ships in the world and sail for two to three days. Or alternatively, you fly to Capetown in South Africa and catch the ship there to sail for 5 full days before the island looms on the horizon. In the course of my life I have made the journey to and from the St Helena many times, four of which were on a long 14 day journey direct between the Island and Portsmouth.

"Some journeys have been through record high waves, others on ocean so still and expansive it feels like you’re not even moving. The constant in all those journeys has been a vessel that holds an endearing place in many hearts. A vital physical link for islanders to the “outside” world, the RMS St Helena has, for generations, been a steady, loyal friend who offered a welcomed break from the isolation island life offers.

"To some she is just a boat who simply transports cargo and mail to and from our island home, but to many the RMS St Helena represents far more than that, she has tirelessly served the people of St Helena, Ascension and Tristan Da Cunha. Bringing long lost friends and family back home on triumphant returns. Been the backdrop to childhood adventures and given saints everywhere something to be proud off. If you have had the pleasure and privilege of travelling or working on the RMS St Helena you, my friend, have been a part of a beautiful history."

The RMS St Helena Souvenir Poster is A3 in size, printed on 180g paper for a luxury print finish and costs £10 +P&P and to buy one simply click HERE and other items involving the island can also be seen on Robin and Emma-Jane Richards own website, Bemmie.