Governor: A year of drama
I think I am coming to learn that every year in Bermuda is extraordinary. Extraordinary in the range of things that happen, in the quality of events put on — of sporting and cultural performances and occasions, of dramas both in nature and in the human world. This past year has been no exception.
The two great storms in October gave us a reminder of the power of nature and our smallness when natural forces get going.
We were lucky.
Hurricane Gonzalo came down from its peak force before reaching us; the robustness of our buildings and our relatively helpful hills and reefs, as well as some good organisation, let us off relatively lightly.
Everyone suffered inconvenience — quite a lot of people suffered serious loss. But we were spared loss of life or serious injuries.
And, making some of our own luck, we benefited from the renewal of a sense of community, of neighbours helping neighbours, and a feeling of having come through something big together.
Putting on the PGA Grand Slam of Golf between the storms and the Argo Gold Cup sailing races just after demonstrated to the world Bermuda's determination and ability to ensure that the shows went on. I know a lot of people did a lot of work to make that look apparently effortless.
But Fay and Gonzalo, in a strange but not unexpected way, brought out the real sense of community, of people having the same experiences, comparing stories and generally helping out, which is nearer the day to day life of Bermuda than the less cheerful side of life which is so often — for understandable reasons — highlighted in the media.
The media have had bad, sad and tough things to report. And we as a society have had to face them — corrosive gang violence, mercifully down from an earlier peak but still presenting everyone, not just the police, with a challenge.
Deaths and injuries from road accidents, this year including several victims known to Margaret and me.
And families and individuals who, day to day, face worries arising from unemployment or financial uncertainty, relationships, illness or injury, or difficult responsibilities. Almost all of us come into one or other of these categories at various times and know others who do so too.
And of course, as a community, we also share good news. In sports, we celebrate Bermudians who do well — whether it is Nakhi Wells on the football field, Flora Duffy in triathlons or Roy-Allan Burch in the pool, and many others.
This has been a great year for sport.
Beyond Bermuda, we have had Pan American Games, the Caribbean and Central America Games, and the Commonwealth Games, which I was lucky enough to get to in Glasgow during my summer holiday.
These all gave opportunities to a large number of Bermudians to experience big international competition.
The opening of the new hospital wing is a real milestone, again involving a wide community effort. And most recently we have celebrated Bermuda's selection as host of the America's Cup, and the enormous opportunities which that will offer everyone in Bermuda.
Like all families, we have shared the experience of happy and sad events — we will remember 2014 above all for the birth of a grandson and the wedding of a daughter.
Christmas is a time when both as a community and as families we reflect on the past year and the future.
Here in Bermuda, despite the challenges we all face, we have very much to be thankful for.
The Christmas story in St Luke's Gospel starts with a reference to registration for taxation, a reminder that governments' fiscal challenges go back a long way. But, more encouragingly, the resounding message of Christmas is that of peace, goodwill and above all of hope. We can all contribute in our own way to peace and goodwill. And hope, through the birth of Jesus Christ, is the biggest Christmas present of all.
We wish you a peaceful and happy Christmas and God's blessing for 2015.