People of the Virgin Islands. Good day.
This is Governor Jaspert for my daily address to you.
Yesterday, along with Deputy Governor Rosalie Adams, I visited Virgin Gorda again, and like the rest of the Territory, the devastation and destruction of Irma and Maria is all too evident, but progress is being made.
In fact, later on today, mains power is expected to be restored to Virgin Gorda and although there is a long way ahead in our recovery and to connect every house, this will start to make everyday life just that little bit easier for those on the island. Efforts also continue across the entire Territory, to put the necessary infrastructure in place to restore electricity.
Walking through Spanish Town, I was able to see marked improvements from my previous visit last week; the togetherness of the community continues to shine through. The Deputy Governor and I thanked the volunteers in the distribution centre, as well as the hard working public officers for their efforts to date.
The public officers have a vital role to play in implementing the recovery plan set out by the government. The private sector is equally critical and I was pleased to see businesses re-opening as the Territory works to returning to the thriving and world’s best tourism destination it once was and will be again.
Today's Cabinet meeting, the first to be held since Irma, is a significant step in our recovery as we transition back to normal Government operations. Let me assure you that myself and the Cabinet are listening to your needs and are determined to deliver. The road to full recovery may be long, but progress is being made on a daily basis and the Virgin Islands will be rebuilt stronger and more beautiful than ever before.
After today's Cabinet meeting, Deputy Governor Rosalie Adams will become acting Acting Governor, as I will return to the UK for a few days. During this time I will have regular calls with Mrs. Adams and briefed daily by my team here in the Virgin Islands. Mrs. Adams is an outstanding public officer and has my full confidence for the short period she will be Acting Governor. If there are any urgent updates to give then the Premier or Acting Governor Adams will communicate these to you.
Whilst in the United Kingdom (UK), I will have discussions with the British government on how they can continue to assist us further on our recovery. Having hosted two UK Cabinet Ministers since Irma it has been all too clear that our recovery and how the UK can help is very much at the forefront of their minds.
On a personal level, returning to the UK for a few days will also give me an opportunity to take my two young children to their new school, which will be on a temporary basis until they return as soon as possible. As a parent, I know this must be a difficult time for those with children, but rest assured opening schools as soon as possible across the Territory is a top priority for myself and the Cabinet.
The plan announced by Minister Walwyn in this regard is to have all schools and all grades functioning on a shift system by November 6, while students ages 3 to 8 years will be involved in an educational programme by October 5 along with students in grades 10, 11 and 12. Further details on this will be announced by the Premier and his Ministers.
I may have only been Governor for a short time, but the warmth shown by everyone in the Virgin Islands to myself and my family and the spirit shown by everyone since Irma and Maria has truly been inspiring. I thought when I arrived here that the Virgin Islands was paradise because of the natural beauty. I have found I was wrong – it is actually paradise because of its amazing people.
I continue to be proud of the community spirit of togetherness that I see displayed daily. With all of our collective efforts we will see the Virgin Islands bounce back even stronger than before.
May you continue to be united as we work together to rebuild the Virgin Islands.
And may God continue to bless us all in this Territory.