Life on a remote island

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President David Couzin introduced fellow club member Hayden Barrett MBE as speaker at the meeting of Ellon Probus Club held on April 11.

Hayden gave members a fascinating account of life on Tristan da Cunha which he had visited during his days in the British Navy.

Tristan da Cunha, an actively volcanic island, is the world’s most remote inhabited island lying in the South Atlantic Ocean roughly mid-way between South Africa and Argentina, in other words more than 1500 miles from anywhere.

The island last erupted in 1961 when the inhabitants had to be evacuated to Britain, It was re-colonised again after two years.

Tristan da Cunha is strongly allied with Britain - English is spoken, the pound used and there is a doctor, shop and two churches (but at present no ministers).

The island is run as a community partnership with equal sharing amongst of all facilities - nobody owns more than their neighbour.

Supplies and mail are received via Cape Town, but only as weather permits.

The population, located at the Edinburgh Settlement, is limited to a round 275.

Each man is necessarily a jack-of-all-trades - farmer, fisherman, sheep shearer, builder etc. No new settlers are permitted.

Interestingly there are only seven surnames amongst the inhabitants, all being descended from the original settlers who were mostly stranded or shipwrecked seamen. Tristan da Cunha’s economy is primarily dependent on lobster fishing for export to South Africa and, as all schoolboys know, the issue of highly collectable postage stamps.

The talk concluded with a lengthy question and answer session and a vote of thanks given by Alistair Sinclair.

The next meeting is on May 9 when Elisabeth Cameron will talk on the Ellon Talking Newspaper.

Members are reminded that the Spring Lunch is on April 25 at Ellon Golf Club.