A Report for FIBS by Lee Hazell 19 August 2003
Harriet Hall (HH) took over from Russ Jarvis as first Secretary and Deputy Governor in the Falklands. And, if thatís not enough, sheís also acting commissioner for South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. As sheís now settled into the job, I thought it appropriate to find out more about what she thinks of the Islands and previous jobs. But first I asked her how long sheís actually been here.
HH: I have been here four weeks. This is my first One to One but not my first on radio.
LH: Yes. the Winter Quiz. So, what did you do before you came here?
HH: Immediately before I came here, I was in London on the counter-terrorism desk, which was quite exciting. Before that I was in China for four years and before that I was learning Chinese. But right at the beginning of my Foreign Office Career, I was in the South Atlantic Department dealing with the Falklands.
LH: You visited the Islands before, havenít you?
HH: Yes. Iíve been twice before. I came in 1993 for a week when David Tatham was Governor and then I came for a month in 1996 when Richard Ralph was Governor and Craig Shelton was First Secretary and he was ill. So, I covered for him.
LH: Do you think the Islands have changed much since then?
HH: All the good things about the Islands are still the same. Any changes are for the better, like the opening of the Brassiere, slightly more people, more in the shops, and more fresh vegetables from the LanChile flight. Generally itís still the same as it was.
LH: So was it your previous visits that made you apply for this job?
HH: Yes. Definitely. Both the visits I had here made me realise how much I enjoyed it. But also the work that you can do in an overseas territory is so different from what you get in an actual embassy. Itís much more interesting and much more valid. And, I like the people here as well. They are very friendly. The other great point about the Falklands, and I have to say this, you can get the Archers every day. Iím an Archers addict. I get e-mailed summaries to my desk every day so I am not missing out.
LH: What are you most looking forward to from the job?
HH: I am looking forward to meeting lots of people and finding out more about the Falklands. Obviously my other two visits were rather short. Although I crammed a lot in, I couldnít really get in-depth knowledge of what makes the Islands tick. I am really trying this time to find out more about sheep farming, the wool, abattoir, fisheries and generally get to know people a lot better. I just want to have a great time.
LH: I guess you will get to go down to South Georgia as well and visit down there.
HH: That should be good. I am trying to fix that up for this spring. Itís obviously getting the vessels at the right time and coming back.
LH: Last week we had an FCO Official and one MOD Official in the Islands for a familiarisation visit and you had the lovely job of taking them around. That must have been good for you as well, was it?
HH: It was great because it gave me a chance to get out and about, especially spending a couple of days on the West, going to Fox Bay and Port Howard and meeting people there. Then on Friday, we went down to Goose Green and Darwin for lunch and did a battlefield tour of Goose Green. That was fascinating for me.
LH: What was the main purpose of their visit here?
HH: It was really just for familiarisation. Both of them are fairly new to the desks in London and you canít really work with the Falkland Islands without coming here and seeing what they are like. They wanted to come down as soon as they could.
LH: The Governor is actually off next week, Heís away.
LH: Whatís he away for?
HH: Heís going back for a variety of meetings including the South Georgia Association Conference. And, heís also going to the International Fisheries EX in Vigo. He will be doing a lot to support Falklands fisheries there.
LH: Which means you will be taking over the reigns.
HH: I will be endeavouring to stand in, yes. I think itís going to be difficult for people to get used to me, when Russ had been acting Governor for several occasions. Heís a hard act to follow. But, I will do my best for the Islands and I hope everyone will be as supportive as possible. Iím sure they will.
LH: In your career, what has been the best memorable moment?
HH: There are so many. Some of the things I did on my earlier trips to the Falklands were very memorable. In fact, the first time I came here, I had never been so far from the UK before, and came to the Falklands. Obviously I had grown up during 1982. It was very moving and that feeling will stay with me for a long time. There were also some great opportunities in China Ė going to Tibet and seeing that Ė visiting the Great Wall Ė the Terracotta Warriors Ė going across deserts in rusty old busses to go and buy carpets in the Bazaar in Central Asia Ė a lot of great opportunities like that.
LH: how does the job in the Falklands differ from your job in China? Is it much different?
HH: Itís very different because in China we were always working with a Foreign Government. We were trying to push the UK point of view and promote the UK and the Chinese werenít always willing to listen, especially when we were criticising them on Human Rights. Hong Kong was a bit difficult. Here, we work so closely with the Falkland Islands Government. In fact, half of my job is working for the Falkland Islands Government as Acting Governor. Itís not a them and us situation. We are all batting on the same side.
LH: how long are you here for?
HH: I am going to be here for three years, probably a tour length of three years. I know Russ did stay for 6 and I think I would need to twist my boyfriendís arm if I were going to be away for six years.
LH: Are you going to go around the Islands to get to know people?
HH: Yes. I want to see a lot of the wildlife. I bought a book and I am reading up on wildlife.
LH: Did you get to see much of the wildlife in your previous visits?
HH: No. They had both been in winter. I was down in August and then in September. On one visit, I did see a couple of penguins. Last week I saw a penguin, which is my first this year so that was really good. I went to Mare Harbour and we saw some sea-lions and one penguin, just as we got our cameras out. They were too far away so it wasnít successful. I want to get out to some of the islands as well during the summer.
LH: Thanks for coming in, Harriet.
(100X Transcription Service)