Friday, 19 October 2018

Michel Dancoisne-Martineau M.B.E.

Michel Dancoisne-Martineau with the Governor of St. Helena, Mrs Lisa HONAN

Excellent news. Michel has at last received recognition from the British Government for what he has done on St. Helena. He has made an amazing contribution to the island, and not only to the French Properties, which are now successfully integrated into St Helena life rather than places apart. His work for the protection of animals and for the St. Helena National Trust, to which he has donated a sizeable block of land, is particularly notable. Perhaps not usually worthy of public recognition is the respect he has shown to the Saints, the ordinary people of St. Helena. Although he will always be "the Frenchman" he has accepted local people in a way that none of his predecessors have and few if any expatriates ever do.

Although I am far from an admirer of an outdated Honours system, I rather wish the Government had given Michel the same award as his predecessor Gilbert Martineau, in a very different political climate of course. * In 1973 we were grateful new members of the E.E.C., our admission having twice been vetoed by a French President, now we are trying to get out! But I do not wish to strike a discordant note. This is a great achievement for a poor boy from Picardy added to his award of the Legion d'honneur in 2016.
* I understand that Michel's award has been given for services towards the development of St. Helena tourism. The M.B.E. is given for “service in or to the community which is outstanding in its field and has delivered a sustained and real impact which stands out as an example to others" whereas the higher award, an O.B.E. is given for “ a distinguished regional or county-wide role in any field, through achievement or service to the community including notable practitioners known nationally.” If any emphasis is put on the latter clause then it is unlikely that anybody on St. Helena could ever gain an O.B.E. It is time for a new honours system which removes references to the long defunct British Empire, but I am not holding my breath for that to happen.

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