Prince Philip has died, aged 99. Buckingham Palace made the announcement just after midday (UK) and said: “ His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.”

Following the announcement of his death, Chair of the Legislative Assembly MLA Mark Pollard said: "On behalf of the people of the Falkland Islands, we wish to express our heartfelt sympathies for Her Majesty the Queen and the wider Royal family at this sorrowful time. We have a deep and lasting affection for the Duke of Edinburgh, who wholeheartedly engaged with our community – young and old – during his time in the Islands. Whether trout fishing in Chartres or taking part in our Boxing Day horse races, his enthusiasm for our traditions and way of life is something that has positively impacted on generations of Falkland Islanders and will never be forgotten.”

The Falkland Islands Government expressed "deep sadness" of the Duke's passing. In a statement issued shortly before midday, FIG said: "During his decades of public duty, the Falkland Islands was pleased to twice welcome the Duke of Edinburgh to our shores in 1957 and 1991. On both occasions, Islanders were struck by his genuine interest in our people, our home and our history.

As Her Majesty The Queen’s consort of 73 years, his low-key and steadfast approach to his military career and to public service served to strengthen relations between nations around the world, providing stability and unity across almost a century of change and uncertainty. A patron of over 800 organisations, he was a strong advocate for the arts, science and sport. One of his most enduring legacies being the establishment of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme, which is the world’s leading youth achievement award, helping hundreds of thousands of young people to participate in self-improvement programmes, including many in the Falkland Islands."

His Excellency the Governor, Nigel Phillips CBE, said: “All in the Falkland Islands would like to extend their sincere condolences to Her Majesty The Queen and the whole Royal Family on the passing of His Royal Highness, The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. The Duke dedicated himself to public service; his contribution has positively touched the lives of so many. Those of us who had the privilege to meet him recall his humour and keen interest. His loss is deeply felt across our Islands community and among the men and women of British Forces South Atlantic Islands."

In tribute to His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the Falkland Islands will stage a 21-gun salute tomorrow (Saturday 10 April) at noon, followed by a short parade.

Outline planning permission was approved by three votes to one for the development north of Memorial Wood. The proposal, for six semi-detached 1.5 storey homes and five single storey homes, was recommended for refusal by the Planning Department. The unacceptable scale and massing of the project were said to impact the public amenity of Memorial Wood. 

Memorial Wood is a public space that commemorates members of the British forces who served and died during the 1982 Falklands War. Trees have been planted in memory of each of the British servicemen killed during the war and there is an annex for those who have died whilst serving in the Islands since the war ended. The danger of the development blocking the views from and to the wood was raised by the Planning Department and said to contradict three policies in the Development Plan. 

A previous application for the site was refused in June 2020 and an appeal by the applicant, the Falkland Islands Company (FIC), also refused. The new plans replace two-storey homes with 1.5 storeys and while this reduces the overall footprint the Planning Department said the basic layout remains the same with the boundary only 3.5 metres from Memorial Wood. 

During the meeting of April 7, Planning officer Mary Smith said there weren’t enough details in the plans including the height of the properties and explained that the committee must be certain the number of homes proposed can fit in the space. The committee did express concerns about the development blocking the view from Memorial Wood and asked if the one and a half storey homes could be built further to the north of the plot with the single storey homes closer to the boundary.

Head of Planning and Building Lee Kenebel reiterated that height and layout are matters for the reserved planning application. "Once the reserved matters come in remember, you cannot change the number of houses," he said.

Tim Miller, from Stanley Nurseries who act as caretaker of Memorial Wood for the Public Works Department, said: "I'm very disappointed this has now been granted in view of the previous objections. I have no real objection if there were only single-storey houses being built to the north and not impede on the peaceful aspect of the wood. I would be very concerned about one and a half storeys as, depending on the design, they could end up the same size as two storeys."

When asked about the concerns raised at the meeting, Construction Director of FIC Roy Smith said: "We are very pleased that the committee has approved the application. We will be submitting a full application in due course which we trust will also be supported and, in turn, help to address the chronic housing shortage in Stanley.”

The Planning and Building Committee approved the outline application and MLA Mark Pollard requested that the reserved matters come before the Committee when ready.  

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A junior hockey player will have their fees for the Okanagan Hockey School funded by local supermarket Seafish Chandlery.

13-year-old James applied to the school in England on advice from one of his friends who attends. “I looked into it and was umming and ahing and then decided I wanted to go,” said James. “I wrote to a lot of different places (for funding) and Seafish was the first to get back to me.

“I’m looking forward to the ice-hockey but also broadening my horizons and learning a different way of life.”

Hamish Wylie, CEO of Seafish Falklands Ltd, said: “The Seafish Chandlery has sponsored the junior teams since the beginning and they’ve performed remarkedly well over the years. One of the things we found, with CFL sponsoring the badminton, is if you provide the ability for training and coaching the performance increases all the time. With the junior hockey, there are players with huge potential and James is one of them.”

When asked if this is something they will consider again Mr Wylie said: “Very much so. I think the hockey is very much an established sport and supported well by parents and children. It’s got a long life ahead of it and we’re certainly looking at continuing sponsorship and will keep helping them to raise the bar year on year. Whether that’s through sponsorship like this or with equipment.”

News shirts and fixtures were revealed at the launch night which took place on Tuesday evening at the Stanley Leisure Centre. The season was not able to fully begin last year due to the global pandemic and Vice-Chair of the Hockey Association Sam Cockwell said: “This year has given us time to look at our shirt design and relaunch all our dek and inline teams.”

Hockey is the most popular sport in the Falkland Islands. Across five leagues there are 25 teams ranging from pewee to elite, youth teams proving especially popular. “Over a hundred people are involved this year,” said Sam. “Dek hockey has taken a big surge which is great as it had really died off in 2019. It’s been really positive for us.”

Indoor hockey was founded in the Falklands in 2006 by ex-professional ice hockey player Grant Budd. Ice hockey is also popular and despite there being no ice rink in the Falklands to practise on, teams have competed in tournaments in Chile and Miami.

Of future tournaments, Sam said: “We’re working really closely with the Latam Cup. They have been really supportive of us going again. We’re hoping to go away in October but that’s dependant on travel and how people feel about going away. I’d like to see us go again, whether this year happens we can’t say but we’re definitely working toward it.”

His Excellency the Governor Nigel Philips CBE has extended his post for a further year until September 2022.

Mr Philips was appointed as Governor of the Falkland Islands and Her Majesty’s Commissioner for South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands in September 2017. Speaking of his post extension he said: “To have the opportunity to serve Her Majesty The Queen and the people of the Falkland Islands is a privilege; I am grateful that I am able to do so for a little longer.  I hope all who know us are aware that Emma and I consider the Islands to be our home and truly enjoy living here.  I sincerely hope this notification is considered welcome news.” 

At a reception hosted by Government House for newcomers on Tuesday evening, Mr Philips spoke of the Falkland Islands being “a really special place”.

In a speech to attendees he continued, “I think it’s the most special place I’ve ever been. I have extended again and will be here for five years with Emma and the reason we’ll be here for five years is because we love it.”

Mr Philips encouraged his guests to take time to travel as much as they can to make memories that “will ensure the Falklands Islands remain a dear part in your lives.”

Being conscious that the Falklands is one of the few places in the world free of Covid-19 His Excellency spoke of his gratitude of being able to host events: “To be stood in this proximity and not have a care or a fear of what Covid can bring is something that is very, very special. I want to say thank you to all those that mean we are able to do this tonight. I don’t think any of us take this for granted.”

Tiling has begun in the Stanley Leisure Centre pool which has been closed for more than a year. MLA Barry Elsby laid the first of around 12,000 tiles on Wednesday, February 24. MLA ELsby said the pool was costing around £650,000 which "seems like a lot of money for a small community but you get what you pay for." 

The pool was closed in November 2019 after deterioration was found in the lining and bonding with the tiles underneath and further hazards were identified in January 2020. Project manager, Anthony Van Rensburg said: "The pool was fibreglassed, as we know. We had a company come in to do an investigation and they advised we lift the fibreglass, which we did. We checked the tiles underneath and found them mostly loose and broken."

In July 2020, the contract for retiling the pool was awarded to UK company Guncast Swimming Pools Ltd and the pool is expected to reopen this May.

Mr Van Rensburg explained that the screed was also removed because it was water damaged: "We've removed all the remnants of the old pool and started with a brand new concrete base. The team arrived late January (2021), came out of quarantine and started preparing the surfaces.  The team have rendered the walls, this pool is 30 years old it's been around for a while, the rendering gives a completely flat surface. We've done a lot of upgrade work in the plant room and more will happen in the coming weeks when a technician arrives."

The tiling work will be completed by Profix Tiling, subcontractors of Guncast. Owner Greg Paclawski and his team of four brought 40 tonnes of material to the Falklands. Mr Paclawski, who has been tiling for over 20 years, estimates the tiling of the walls will take a couple of days and the overflow areas are expected to take just over a week. "What is hard and difficult is using this epoxy grout because it's constantly washing and washing. It's a difficult product to work with but it will give you longevity," said Mr Paclawski.

After the tiling process and a 21-day curing period, the plant room will be upgraded and the pool can be filled. "We'll be testing the water flow, checking the water treatment is working properly. We'll then start heating the pool and filling it up really slowly so we don't put any stress on the structure of the pool," explained Mr Van Rensburg.

This isn’t the first refurbishment the pool has underwent. In 2012 urgent works were identified as being needed but it took over a year for those works to begin. The refurbishment began in 2013, lasted two years and the pool was reopened and closed twice during the process. The project suffered overrun costs, long delays and was subject to a report by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). The report, released in 2019, concluded the refurbishment works did not represent value for money. Multiple issues including the tender process and project management were highlighted as well as poor quality control. 

"We've learnt an awful lot from the PAC inquiry into what went wrong with the last pool and we've learnt tremendous lessons with that," said MLA Elsby. "We were determined in this project to get a highly skilled company to come in and do it, and we've had that."

When asked how the public can be assured of accountability in this project MLA Elsby said: "It comes down to project management and the fact we are on top of this all the time. Before we started the contract, two people from the company came down to make sure they understood what was necessary. Throughout this process, we've kept the quality control there. People from the company will be coming down before we sign off on it to make sure everything is up to standard."

LISTEN to our News Feature on the swimming pool here.