HomeUnited KingdomSpeech: Turks and Caicos Islands: Governor's farewell address

Speech: Turks and Caicos Islands: Governor’s farewell address

The Cabinet It just may be that these Islands – because of the inherent advantages I described at the start – are going to show the world that it is possible to deal with this crisis, calmly, intelligently and purposefully. The third word is ‘Service’. I was introduced to public service in 1982 when I joined the British Army. Six months later, at the age of 19, I was leading thirty soldiers on operations. That was 37 years ago and this word ‘service’ has been tested every day since then. I am acutely aware that as Head of State I am appointed rather than elected. I have the greatest respect for those politicians amongst you, who face an electorate. As a result you – as well as Her Majesty who appointed me as her representative – have every right to demand, in your Head of State, Statesman like qualities. Today is my first step on a journey to earn the right to be judged in that way. To substance. The greatest courtesy I can now pay you is to be both brief and to be clear. Four words that you may choose to hold me to account to and I’ll end talking about my priorities. In the end it will come not because of rules and regulations and because people were told what to do, but because this population knew what it had to do – and it did it” “When Mandy and myself say we will miss the people here, it’s not just because we will miss you for your warmth and a set of qualities that are actually quite hard to tease out, but ones which when put together makes TCI and its people a bewitching place. Of her many talents my wife is creative and she becomes super creative when she’s happy. I know how much she has enjoyed Turks and Caicos just by looking at her art but of course her contribution has gone much further than that. But you all know that. Words taken from the 25th March 2020 speech included: Together – each and every one of us on these Islands – all went through a great test together, and together we more than passed that test. As predicted, this population knew what it had to do – and did it. “With due humility I say that Government – anywhere in the world – at the best of times – is not perfect. There was no plan here – there was no plan anywhere – as to how any country let alone this small Island chain would manage with a pandemic that has shut down the globe. … I said at my inauguration that I would care, serve be clear and listen. This is the best moment to hold me to that. All my instincts and experiences of dealing with comparatively minor crisis and emergencies, up until this point, tell me that good decisions made early are far better than perfect decisions made late. Cabinet is in complete agreement on this. I hope the public agrees. The truth is that the quality of a person’s leadership is based only on the quality of their service, and the quality of their service boils down to putting others first. So I promise, as your Governor, that I will not only be Her Majesty’s servant in these islands, but I will also be your servant. The first word is ‘Care’. I may be a true Brit, but I’m a Brit who cares deeply about the UK’s relationship with the Caribbean, and the Caribbean’s relationship with the UK. With a Bajan wife, whose family has lived on that island for centuries, and children who enjoy joint Bajan / British nationality how could I be anything, but. And having explained how Emergency Powers would be used, I ended by saying … You will find I will take my responsibility to represent the interests of the Turks and Caicos Islands seriously and diligently. The second word is ‘Listen’. Long standing connections to this region ensure that I at least know how much I don’t know. I have some insight to island life. I know how hard I will have to work to understand a rich and complex society that few – who have not lived in the Caribbean – can properly understand. With thanks to the Premier and the previous Premier for those extremely kind and generous remarks; they mean a great deal – more than you might imagine. Those living through this will tell a future generation how you, your friends, your neighbours, and those you never knew, but who you came to respect, behaved and how through that behaviour the Islands rapidly returned to their previous prosperity. Because that will come. While I admire brevity, this is the last address I shall give in TCI and that calls for some refection.  What I don’t intend to do is try to make sense of things in retrospect but draw on what I said at the time. That’s because your memory can play tricks when trying to justify or explain. So what I do intend to do, instead, is say something about me, and something about you, using the words I used at the time. The one thank you I will say is to the person stood next to me, who has been stood next to me for 38 years: Mandy. The UK Government – many years ago- essentially bought one, and got one free. We are a team. Premier and First Lady In starting a new role though it’s critical to have early focus – my early focus will be on properly understanding issues relating to crime, illegal immigration and hurricane preparedness. My programme has been prepared with that in mind. It is all of that of course, but more importantly we will miss the people here because of a very distinct national quality that shone through so very well during our time here – your resilience. It is resilience, along with courage, that are the qualities I admire the most. I’ve been in the Caribbean every year for the last 35 years and visited many of the islands in this region. Nearly 33 years ago I married Mandy in St Georges Church, Barbados. One of our children was christened in St Ambrose Church, St Michael, Barbados. We can’t deliver you perfection, or anything close to perfection, we can though take some big decisions now that buy us some time. Being clear and straight: This final word, and we need not dwell on this because you will – in the end – judge me as you see it – is that you will find me ‘clear’ and by being clear you fill find me ‘straight’. And now to the pandemic.. “Whoever you are on the Island: old or young; citizen, resident or visitor; whichever Island you live on; whatever your ethnicity; however, you make your living; whether you are rich or poor you are now one. We are now using emergency powers that came into effect last night, on your behalf, for the good of the community. This is going to impact you in very significant ways. Much of what we announce today is driven by the determination that we do not lose the advantage we presently enjoy compared to most. There is a window here where if we are bold we might just come through this far less impacted than others; we don’t intend to shy away from that opportunity or responsibility. If we fail it won’t be because of indecision.” As a result you will find me inquisitive, I aspire to be one of the most informed people on these islands. Whoever you are, you will find that I will ask a lot of questions. You all, I think, have a right to be heard – and I have a duty to listen. So now back to this evening and to this final reception. This is what I really want to say, today. If you are here tonight, at this reception, I would want to say a personal thank you to each and everyone of you. Time doesn’t allow for that, but I will end by saying something to all of you. In the 18th century the political philosopher Burke offered advice. His definition of a statesman was: “A disposition to preserve and an ability to improve”. That seems to me to remain a good aiming mark in the 21st century Turks and Caicos Islands. To preserve and improve. You will find that I’m interested in making a practical, positive, difference. That’s enough talk. I start my agenda – such as it is – to work with you all to ‘preserve and to improve’. In the end this is going to be a Governorship based on values. Whether I ‘care’, ‘listen’, ‘serve’ and whether I’m ‘straight’ will best be judged by my actions rather than my words. I’m now keen to get to work”. “To reply today”, I said on the 15th July 2019, “to the important points you – the Premier and Leader of the Opposition make – would suggest I have arrived with an agenda prepared in London; you will all be relieved to hear that I don’t. My views can wait until I am better informed, through detailed conversations with you. The first is taken from some of the words spoken at my Inauguration in 2019, when of course none of you knew me, and the second from the moment 254 days later, on the 25th March 2020, which was the start of the pandemic and the use of Governor’s Emergency Powers. I could make myself extremely popular by making this farewell speech extraordinarily short – four words short – and also raise a cheer: “UK Good, TCI Great”. But perhaps that would be cheating. I therefore promise to ‘care’ about the people and the future of these islands, an easy promise to make, and an easy promise to keep, because both myself and my family have cared about the future of this region for a very long time. You know what Mandy’s done and been doing in these Islands and she’s very much become her own person here, quite separate from my role. Indeed I was recently introduced as: “This is Nigel, he’s married to Mandy, oh yes, and she’s married to the Governor. But before quoting what I said back ten, on this point about transparency, my contemporaneous journal is already published. Through the Instagram account @governortci you can go back – and I can go back – and see what I was doing or thinking at any given moment. As far as anything you write can be, its an honest account – over 500 posts – that capture my time here. Anyhow, let’s look back to my address at my Inauguration (edited down to save time) just after I’d literally got off the plane: So I promise to seek to understand the collective wisdom of these islands by listening to as many people as I can – from as many different walks of life as I can; I promise to ‘listen’.

The Cabinet
Whether we collectively succeed, or not, the one thing I know above all others is that our behaviours here – to one another – putting our future and our society before the immediacy of the moment – is going to be remembered.
Mandy and myself are not Turk and Caicos Islanders, and never can be, but I can tell you quite clearly – being entirely straight with you – that there are no people in the world, just now, that we feel closer to, think the most of, or wish the best for, than you. So “UK Good, TCI even Better”. Thank you for tonight, and thank you for allowing us to be part of you, for this short while. Goodnight.


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