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Go to: How we ended up hereOur move here, in Woman magazineData on John’s WirebirdWhy Do Human Rights Make Good Business Sense?St Helena HighSt Helena Gold Mine

How we ended up here 

It’s a bit of a long story but to simplify matters, John answered the following notice in The Banker, July 2004.

Irresistible job on sub-tropical isle

The Bank of St Helena is looking for a lending officer who wants to get away from it all

Napoleon Bonaparte ended his days in exile in St Helena, a worthy claim to fame. This 410km2 British Dependent Territory may have only about 4,000 residents but since April 1 it has boasted its very own government-owned commercial bank.

The Bank of St Helena is a unique institution. Setting up the bank on the sub-tropical island in the south Atlantic was subject to unique circumstances. The idea of offering both savings and current accounts, for example, was quickly abandoned when it became clear that it would take too long to educate the population about the difference between the accounts. Until then, cash had been king.

The next stage for the bank is to start lending. To date, 12 loans have been granted with an average value of £2,000. But recruiting top staff is a problem. The bank is looking for a chief lending officer who could become the next managing director in May 2005 when the current incumbent returns to the UK. (Although The Banker does not generally run job ads, we found this one irresistible and hope the successful candidate will keep us informed of progress.)

A suitable candidate would probably be paid more than £20,000 plus accommodation. Not a major amount, but of interest perhaps to a retired bank manager who likes the idea of getting away from it all - the island is only accessible by ship and it takes at least a week to travel to St Helena from either Ascension Island or Cape Town in South Africa.

When it comes to housing loans, the government’s policy to date has been not to foreclose on mortgages because "evicting someone from a house for non-payment simply transferred the problem to social services since there are no facilities on the island for housing such families. If in future the bank were to foreclose on a mortgage, they would literally be putting the family on the street," says Alan Savery who set up the bank and is now chairman of the Banking Supervisory Authority. He was formerly with the Bank of England and HSBC.

Candidates should apply to…

Our move here, in Woman magazine 

Woman magazine did an article on our move to St Helena in their April 2006 edition, which is reproduced below (click on the image for a larger version):

Woman magazine article on our move to St Helena The Turner Family Other Stuff

Data on John’s Wirebird 

Adopted wirebird, that is

Wirebird Adoption Data Sheet



Colour Code

Left Tibia - Green; Left Tarsus - Metal; Right Tibia - Green; Right Tarsus - Red

Date Ringed

12th June 2008

Location Ringed

Upper Prosperous Bay Plain - Fisher’s Valley

Why Do Human Rights Make Good Business Sense? 

As noted in a New York Times editorial, "the ideal of universal human rights [...] is one of the most important political legacies of the century."

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, in its "Business and Human Rights: A Progress Report" states the following.

"At the dawn of the 21st century, one of the most significant changes in the human rights debate is the increased recognition of the link between business and human rights. In the first four decades after adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Cold War was the central political framework for viewing the world. Human Rights was considered to be an issue that involved state action, not the actions of the private sector. In the ten years since the Cold War effectively ended, however, the world has begun to look very different indeed. Even before the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle, it had become clear that the debate concerning human rights now places business squarely in the middle."

According to Peter Sutherland, Chairman of BP, “Business is essential to the development and protection of human rights for the six billion people on this Globe. Responsible companies see human rights issues as part of their business environment.”

As described in the report published by the International Business Leaders Forum on Human Rights: It is Your Business, there are eight convincing business reasons why companies should integrate human rights into their business principles and practices. Among these elements of the business case are the following:

  1. Safeguard reputation and brand image: The importance of reputation to a company’s share price has been adequately demonstrated. Studies have shown a correlation between companies’ reputation and price/earnings ratio. Both can be seriously tarnished by human rights scandals and violations.

  2. Gain competitive advantage: Companies known for good human rights practices find it easier to enter new markets, win competitive bids, and develop partnerships with customers and suppliers.

  3. Improve recruitment and staff loyalty: Lower turnover and absenteeism and more committed employees have immediate impacts on the bottom line.

  4. Foster greater productivity: better labour relations from human rights practices create higher productivity and lower costs.

  5. Secure and maintain a licence to operate: strong human rights and no tolerance for bribery and corruption build confidence with stakeholders.

  6. Reduce costs: lower costs of recruitment, absenteeism, and turnover can be very significant.

  7. Ensure active stakeholder engagement: sound human rights practices build more collaborative relationships with all stakeholders.

  8. Better investor relations: human rights are rewarded by the increasingly important ethical investment community and can impact share prices.

Several global trends have come together to place human rights higher on the business agenda:

An increasing number of companies have responded to these trends by beginning to incorporate concern for human rights into their daily business operations. This development, parallel to the emergence of the environment as a business issue a generation ago, is demonstrated through several recent trends:

Why are Human Rights Important to Business?

"Businesses are increasingly focused on the impact they have on individuals, communities and the environment. It is clear that one of the central measures of a company’s social responsibility is its respect for human rights. And while most companies recognize the moral imperative to operate consistent with human rights principles, recognition is growing that respect for human rights also can be a tool for improving business performance." (9)

Many organizations have realised the importance of values-based business and promote values-based principles in business believing that building a respectful, diverse, and ethical culture is a business necessity?

The framework for determining what human rights issues are linked to business is addressed through the UN Global Compact, which calls upon business to“support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights within their sphere of influence and make sure they are not complicit in human rights abuses”. This approach recognizes the distinction between those issues over which companies have direct control, and those where they may be one actor amongst many which play distinct roles, and establishes distinct frameworks for defining a company’s responsibilities.

Companies should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights within their sphere of influence; and they should make sure they are not complicit in human rights abuses.

As more companies come to realize their legal, moral and/or commercial need to address human rights issues within their own operations and activities, they are confronted with a number of challenges. For example, there is the need to come to grips with the human rights framework and how a company’s own activities might relate to it. In addition, companies are often uncertain how to avoid complicity in human rights abuse and where the boundaries of their human rights responsibility lie.

Some of the key human rights issues to which businesses need respond are:

  • Healthy and safe working conditions;

  • Abolition of child labour;

  • Gender equality and non-discrimination of all sorts;

  • Social security and labour protection;

  • Elimination of forced or compulsory labour;

  • Freedom of association and collective bargaining;

  • Minimum living wage and timely pay;

  • Migrant workers;

  • Supply chain practices;

  • Corruption and bribery;

  • The environment.

An EBBF article.


Clouds over St Helena The Turner Family Other Stuff
Clouds over St Helena

The St Helena High 

In full, the “St Helena High Pressure System”. ‘Yachties’ will know about this, as it is a factor in their successful navigation of the eastern South Atlantic. It gets mentioned in the Wikipedia as the ‘South Atlantic High’ but otherwise only seems to be discussed in relation to yacht races (Search on Google™…). But if you think that ‘high pressure system’ means sunny skies it’s not as simple as that - we get our fair share of rain (why else would the island be so green?)

(If you thought this was going to be an item about magic mushrooms or other substances then we’re sorry to disappoint but we don’t know anything about such things. Honest!)


The St Helena Gold Mine 

Yes, there is a St Helena Gold Mine. Sadly, not here. It’s in South Africa, specifically at Welkom, in the Free State province. Read more about the St Helena Gold Mine…

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