The Chairman's Letter
by Paul Burnett
As published in the January 2014 magazine
Greetings to you all for a happy and healthy year to come. Whilst writing this letter just prior to Christmas I realise that our Log will not go to print and be distributed until the new year so I can only hope that by the time you read it you will all have enjoyed a lovely Christmas holiday.
Our Autumn meeting this year was perhaps our busiest yet. Not only was it our AGM but David Sleep, as ever, had arranged a splendid mix of speakers and topics plus of necessity extra items were squeezed in. Immediately following the official business of our AGM we paid fitting tribute to Tom Christian, one of the most respected members of the Pitcairn community, who died in July. We included a short eulogy written by Maurice Bligh. We also spoke fondly of Bob Rawlinson, a member of our Society since 1989 who also died earlier this year. A minute’s silence was held in memory of both men.
Elizabeth Whitebread had managed to arrange for Simon Young, Deputy Mayor of Pitcairn, to attend our meeting. Simon was visiting Europe to attend UKOT joint ministerial meeting and was also to represent Pitcairn Island at an event hosted by The PEW Charitable Trusts/Global Ocean Legacy at the International Marine Protected Areas Congress is Marseille in late October. May I take this opportunity to thank Elizabeth for facilitating Simon’s attendance. Simon joined us for the whole day and included his own warm words in memory of Tom Christian. Simon then treated us to an excellent Powerpoint presentation about Pitcairn, followed by a question and answer session.
A wonderful presentation by Austin Meares showing “Picture Postcards of Norfolk Island” followed. We were shown examples of cards from the early 20th century to the present day. Austin’s collection is extensive and includes some real gems. Knowing as we do how serious and knowledgeable Austin is about the postal history and philately of both Pitcairn Island and Tristan da Cunha. We were all amazed to discover that he was quite an expert on Norfolk Island too!
Over lunch members spoke with Simon Young and one topic identified by members is Pitcairn’s current postage stamp issuing programme. The consensus was that for many years a traditional, controlled and conservative issue policy has existed. Stamp issues generally have been relevant to, and about Pitcairn. Recently, however, it would appear that the policy has changed. The number of stamps issued per year has grown and not all the stamp issues are relevant. The recent Kennedy issue is an example. Criticism is not directed at the late President Kennedy, but one suspects the motive behind the stamp issue was more to do with exploiting Americans. Simon Young expressed interest in our views but tactfully reminded us that income derived from stamp issues is very important to Pitcairners. He told us that our views would be relayed to the Island Council and ultimately to the Philatelic Bureau. We understand his viewpoint and all we ask is that the Philatelic Bureau take care not to go for short term gains yet lose out longer term by being seen to be ‘milking’ collectors.
After lunch we were treated to an amazing talk by Richard Fitzwilliam entitled “Mutiny on The Bounty”. Richard’s account was factual but particularly entertaining in that he acted out the altercations between Bligh and Christian and really brought the events to life. We were entranced!
A most interesting extra presentation was squeezed into our schedule. John Kelly, Globally Threatened Species Programme Manager of the Henderson Island Restoration Project, updated us on the ongoing problems on the Island. This item was much appreciated by the members.
The usual auction followed and concluded the day and there were some real bargains for bidders. Criticism of the over-full programme for the day was tempered by several members commenting that it had been one of the best meetings they could remember! Certainly our thanks go out to all who contributed to the day.
May I use this opportunity to express my sincere thanks for the hard work carried out by our Committee this year and I know that an interesting programme has been planned for the forthcoming year. I look forward to seeing you all at the Spring and Autumn meetings in 2014.