This series of An Island Parish visits the island of Anguilla. The Bishop and The National Trust visit the island of Sombrero.
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4,000 miles south-west of the British Isles,
where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean Sea,
lies the island of Anguilla.
Colonised by English settlers in the 17th century,
it was quickly abandoned because of its poor soil.
So the African descendants, many of them former slaves,
became landowners rather than plantation workers,
fostering an independent spirit and close connection to the land
that still flourishes.
Today, just 3% of the population is white,
and it's now one of the 14 British Overseas Territories
with its own government, and the Queen as its Head of State.
It's very similar to growing up in Cornwall.
Everybody looks out for each other.
And it's just a really nice way of living.
I mean, I've been here 23 years,
and I still think I'm kind of British.
With an average temperature of 80 degrees,
British expats have been lured here by the beaches,
low taxes and relaxed way of life.
We have a tradition in Anguilla of going to take a sea bath.
This is the epitome of paradise.
You know, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else!
But this delicate island's future is precarious.
With few natural resources,
Anguillians have always had to be inventive to make ends meet,
competing with larger nearby islands, like Antigua and St Kitts,
for the tourist dollar.
Here, the threat of hurricanes is ever present,
and in the eye of these storms is a rock -
the Anglican minister Bishop Errol Brooks,
who presides over the island's largest parish.
As a people, we stand strong
when things get rough.
This paradise is extremely fragile.
In the days to come...
Contestant number one...
..four island hopefuls battle
for the prestigious ambassadorial role of Miss Anguilla.
I am aiming to win.
I am not aiming for first runner-up, or second runner-up, or...
No place at all!
Sue and Alan Ruan race against the clock to prepare a pop-up feast for
a boatload of hungry holiday-makers and their demanding Dutch captain.
John's a great character,
but if the lunches are not on time,
you won't see many smiles out here!
And Bishop Brooks receives a lukewarm greeting from the birds
on the remote and desolate island of Sombrero.
I got a welcome!
Somebody says good luck, so I'm looking forward to the good luck.
Don't miss Miss Anguilla Pageant.
We call it The Queen Show.
See the ladies parade in evening wear and costumes
as they glide across the stage.
In the island's capital, The Valley,
local schoolteacher Regine Niles is preparing notices for this year's
Miss Anguilla Pageant.
Can I stick my poster on your window, please?
One down. About...20 more to go!
With a prestigious ambassadorial role at stake,
Regine knows the four judges have very strict criteria
for crowning the island queen.
They're looking for poise.
They are looking for them to be very intellectual.
Her main goal is to be an ambassador for Anguilla.
So she has to be very well spoken.
That's a big thing for us.
She has to be well spoken, well versed in social issues,
and internationally and regionally.
So, we don't just want someone that has a pretty face.
We want the total package.
So we have brains and beauty,
is what we're looking for on the night of the show.
And she must be talented as well.
Pageant queens go on to represent the island internationally
and are held in high regard.
At the National Commercial Bank in The Valley,
past winners are commemorated.
There's Marisa, with that beautiful smile.
Miss Anguilla 1998 and 1999.
-And she also won...
-Miss Ecstasy... No, Miss Caribbean Tourism?
Miss Caribbean Tourism, yes.
Dr Linda Banks, who competed in the 1967 pageant show,
now teaches at the local medical school, and her daughter, Funmike,
was Miss Anguilla in 2011.
You used to have me at all the shows anyway.
Yeah, well, you liked pageants, so I took you.
For 26-year-old Funmike,
becoming a pageant queen and ambassador for Anguilla
was the culmination of many years of being in the spotlight.
Here you were in the Prince And Princess Show.
You are really courageous at that age, seven years old,
to decide that you would take on that show.
And then, the next one, we needed someone to enter the Talented Teen.
And you said, "I'll do it!"
This is six years later.
Six years later...
Linda knows a thing or two about what it takes to win,
having emceed the event and coached the entrants for many years.
This year, I won't be a judge. I'll get to enjoy.
It's always fun to sit back and enjoy.
And there are four lovely contestants who I...
I know all of them very well, so it'll be a toss-up who will win.
And, for me, either one of them is quite capable
of representing Anguilla.
So, it will be wonderful to sit back and relax and enjoy the show,
and be a judge still because, while you're sitting there,
you're still picking your favourite, you know.
But, you know, the judges' decision is final.
At the Rodney MacArthur Rey Auditorium,
the head of the Anglican diocese, Bishop Errol Brooks,
has joined the governor and other dignitaries
to celebrate the graduation of children from St Mary's Pre School.
HE RECITES A PRAYER
I think that that's important for the children
to see that they're loved.
It's good to have these rites of passage.
When they look back, they'll say, "Wow, I was so small!"
Anguilla is just one of the 12 islands the bishop presides over
in his role as Head Of The Anglican Diocese
Of The North Eastern Caribbean And Aruba.
Despite his extensive travels across the Caribbean,
there's an uninhabited local island that he's never visited,
and where some ghosts from Anguilla's distant past still linger.
In the 19th century,
Sombrero Island was the home of a thriving phosphate business
where many Anguillians worked as labourers.
But, sadly, not all of them made it home.
So the bishop wants to pay his respects
to their final resting place,
and bless the site of their unconsecrated graves.
I think that it's very important for us to remember people.
Because they would have laid the foundation on which we now build.
I think about those who would have walked before me.
Most of Anguilla's offshore islands
have had their fair share of nautical history -
full of pirates, smugglers and shipwrecks.
But today they're a sanctuary for wildlife,
especially nesting sea birds.
And charged with their wellbeing and preservation
is the Anguilla National Trust.
Based at its headquarters in the centre of the island
is executive director Farah Mukhida.
According to a United Kingdom government report,
most of the UK's biodiversity is actually found in its overseas
territories, including Anguilla.
There are over 150 different species of birds,
sea birds, and wetland birds, and terrestrial birds.
-The least tern.
-There we go, here we go, that's what it looks like.
Farah and her team hope that
preserving Anguilla's position as a bird haven
will make it stand out as a tourist destination
in the busy Caribbean market.
So, what is that?
-That's a black-necked stoat.
-OK, that's the black stoat, yeah.
Yeah, the black-necked stoat.
Sometimes they call it the tuxedo bird,
because it looks like it's wearing a tuxedo.
It's always dressed for an occasion, pretty much!
With large numbers of bird species to be safeguarded,
the National Trust's efforts need to be far-reaching.
Our work actually takes us right across the island,
from the westernmost tip to the easternmost tip,
and even beyond that to the offshore quays.
Today, it's yet another early start for Jan Richardson and her team.
This is my morning. I'm seriously not a morning person!
Like Bishop Brooks, they're also setting off on a two-hour journey
from mainland Anguilla to Sombrero Island, to monitor one of the most
important breeding colonies of sea birds in the Caribbean.
As the site of Anguilla's only lighthouse,
commemorated on numerous postage stamps,
it holds a special place in the history of Jan's family.
Way before I was born, this is in the 1980s or somewhere around there,
my uncle, and my dad, actually, was one of those who used to work here,
maintaining it and whatnot.
Jan's uncle manned the lighthouse for 31 lonely years
until it became automated,
and eventually stopped working altogether.
And, despite the Americans trying to lease the island in the 1960s
to launch rockets into space, it remains uninhabited by humans.
But it's a paradise for migrating sea birds.
So there's a brown noddy.
Oh, another one, so another species, a brown noddy.
Just write that in.
Lying on the migration route between North and South America,
it's the perfect sanctuary for seven distinct species.
Is that a masked booby?
Oh, a masked booby, yeah.
So that's another species of masked booby.
Ah, here we go.
Here's an example of a nest of two adults.
They're arguing like husband and wife!
There's no humans, there's no human interference at all.
Except for every now and then maybe a yacht or a boat might pass along.
It's really secluded.
There's just no threats out here.
Feasting on a small proportion of the bird eggs
are three different types of lizard.
It's a Sombrero black lizard.
So these guys are only found here on Sombrero.
So, if anything was to happen to this island,
these guys would be gone forever.
Can you imagine a world without them?
They are beautiful.
With some of these birds classified as protected,
it's vital that Jan and her colleagues assess the island's colony sizes
to maintain the island's status as an important bird area,
as assigned by Birdlife International.
One of Anguilla's nearer offshore islands, Prickly Pear,
also provides sanctuary for another species
seeking some peace and tranquillity -
which has presented a business opportunity for expats Sue Ruan
and her husband, Alan.
How's it looking today?
-It looks like it's windy.
-Fairly windy day, yeah.
Weather permitting, for almost 20 years,
Sue and Alan have motored out to the uninhabited island
just six miles to the north of the mainland
to run a pop-up restaurant for visiting tourists.
Prickly Pear is on the map, but it's just a tiny dot.
A dot, yeah.
Even Anguilla itself is a tiny dot on the map.
Today is looking pretty nice.
The sun should be good all day.
The only thing is the guests might just get a little bit wet today
because it's slightly windy, so the seas will be a little bit choppy.
After 20 years of working for the NHS in Slough,
Alan's mum return to Anguilla and rented Prickly Pear
from the government to start the business.
It wasn't long before Alan left the UK to join her.
My mother started the restaurant 30 years ago.
And I've been here for the last 23.
He then met Sue when she was visiting as a holiday-maker
from Devon, and now they run the enterprise together.
We're under a little bit of pressure today
because we have a lot of people coming today - at least 80 people.
The majority of them are from Saint Martin.
And in particular a big group are coming on a catamaran,
where the captain is quite surly.
And lunch will have to go out by 12:15 today,
otherwise we're in trouble.
He has a schedule to keep, which means we're under pressure,
so we've got to get moving today.
I'm the one that will remain calm.
Sue gets frustrated and everything else.
And she panics the night before
and she'll get up at four o'clock in the morning,
and loses sleep and everything.
Whereas I just...
Wake up and...
What's the worst that could happen?
As a national conservation site,
there are strict rules to preserve Anguilla's offshore quays.
So, every week, Sue and Alan have to transport not just the food,
but also everything required to cook and prepare it
every time they set up shop.
We're definitely on a desert island out here.
We have to make our own electricity.
We have to carry our own water, even the bathrooms,
we use sea water to pump through.
So, we live off-grid, basically, out here.
Coming across was pretty rough today, it was a bit choppy.
So we're running a little bit behind schedule
because of the time in coming over.
It's not long before the exacting Dutch sea captain John Beeks arrives
with a catamaran full of peckish passengers.
John is a great character.
But if the lunches are not on time,
I will probably get a pretty stern talk at some point during the day.
So I will try and avoid John slightly.
I'm just checking the watch, you're the one late today.
-No. No, we were ready in five minutes.
-Right, there we go.
With the food still being prepared,
a passing tropical squall drives the starving sightseers off the beach
and into the restaurant.
We've just got a quick rain squall, so everybody's coming up.
Hopefully they're not going to be looking for lunch just yet,
because it's not quite ready!
You're locked in here to the voice of choice, 95.5 FM.
It's now 19 minutes before 11 o'clock,
and I have here in the studios with me four beautiful ladies.
And these ladies here are all contestants
in the Miss Anguilla 2016 Pageant.
I want to say a pleasant good morning to you, ladies.
ALL: Good morning.
With the annual ladies' pageant taking place in just a few days,
Radio Anguilla DJ Kenval Richardson is introducing the hopefuls
to island listeners for the first time.
How are your preparations coming along?
My preparations, Kenval, are coming along so good.
I am pretty much ready.
I wake up at, like, four, and from then, it's just pretty much going, going, going.
But what can possibly happen at four o'clock in the morning?
Oh, you have no idea!
I want the people, the public to understand
how hard we are really working to put on a good show.
One of the favourites to win this year's title is 25-year-old
marketing graduate and entertainer, Natalie Richardson.
I have local gigs during the week and on the weekends.
I'm always on the stage.
I can sing, I can talk, I like talking.
All of the girls are very well rounded, all of us.
I definitely know that the competition is there,
and we all have to bring 110% on the night of the show.
Natalie's biggest rival is 24-year-old Carencia Rouse,
who will study at university in the UK later this year.
After the Miss Anguilla pageant,
I have just a few days left before I head to the University Of Oxford
in the United Kingdom to pursue a Master of Science
in nature, society and environmental governance.
These ladies, they will be ambassadors, "icons" for young ladies here in Anguilla.
They'll strive, the young ladies, will strive to be like them and,
you know, follow in their footsteps.
I am so focused on preparing for the show that I can't think about
relaxing and having fun.
That's going to come after.
Yes. August 5th!
And this one over on...
34 miles away on Sombrero Island,
Jan Richardson and her team from the National Trust are at the end of
their monitoring trip, and tallying up the numbers of nesting sea birds -
essential preservation work to prevent any development or leasing of the island.
So, I've got 101 for brown noddies, 232 for brown boobies.
I've got 146 altogether then for bridled terns.
So, 300, plus the 232 that I have.
So, roughly, we've got over 500.
Upon the coming onto the island,
we could already see that the numbers looked good.
But now to have some concrete evidence
that they are actually really good,
it brings your heart some sort of joy, you know?
That this island will continue to be a bird sanctuary.
Named by the Spanish because its shape resembles a hat,
Sombrero has a volcanic base capped with limestone,
which rises up to 40 feet above sea-level,
and its forbidding cliffs are only scalable in calm weather.
Here we are.
Climbing the island's only ladder,
Bishop Brooks has come to pay his respects to the men
who lost their lives mining Anguilla's most valuable commodity
in the 19th century.
I got a welcome.
One of the birds decided to defecate on my head.
Somebody says good luck, so I'm looking forward to the good luck.
The droppings from the sea birds over thousands of years on Sombrero
have played a direct role in the island's industrious past.
There's a bird standing here.
Webbed feet. Yeah!
Bird guano contains very high levels of phosphate,
and in the mid-19th century,
phosphate was more valuable in weight than gold.
Obviously, there were buildings here as well.
But they're now demolished.
You can see the...relics.
Intrepid British pioneers set up the first phosphate mine.
But, despite the mineral's value,
the vast distance between the island and Great Britain
made it unworkable.
So, in the mid-19th century,
an American company leased Sombrero's mines from the Crown,
supplying the booming US cotton industry with 3,000 tonnes annually
of the finest fertiliser in the world.
At its height, as many as 120 West Indian men,
including many Anguillians,
lived and worked on this desolate outpost.
It calls for real determination and fortitude to stick with it.
Some of them actually...flipped.
They had a mental breakdown and...
had to be...taken back to the mainland.
This was tough work, digging through all this hard rock.
Chiselling away every day.
I can see from the caverns
that they went down quite a way.
For 40 years, the American mining company made a fortune
digging to depths of 30 feet,
and even diving underwater with chipping tools
to break loose the last bits of fossilised guano.
By 1890, there was nothing left, and the mines were abandoned.
But not everyone made it off the island alive,
and those graves left behind here have never been blessed.
Yeah, I see a Williams here.
The relative of some late Davies from Park College, London.
Some company he belonged to.
1876. Yeah, 1876.
Let us pray.
We know that if our earthly dwelling, a tent,
should be destroyed,
we have a dwelling not made with hands eternal in the heavens.
Rest eternal, grant unto these, your servants,
and let light perpetual shine upon them.
May their souls, and the souls of all the faithful departed,
rest in peace.
These must have been explorers.
I do salute them, because it really speaks to the will to succeed,
with all the odds.
You know, defying those odds in order to succeed.
Back on Prickly Pear, the squall has passed
and Sue and her team are racing to prepare lunch on time
for Captain John's 80 ravenous day-trippers.
Not a moment too soon, the food is plated up.
OK, ladies and gentlemen. It's lunchtime.
Come and get it!
I've just checked my watch and we're bang on time today,
so John will be happy.
Sorry, can I hand that one to you?
OK, are you having fish or meat?
-Fish for you?
20 years ago,
Sue was one of these passing tourists being served by Alan.
He actually offered lunch and out came lobster.
I made her a lobster lunch, yes.
And I looked at my friend I was on vacation with and I said,
"That is going to be the father of my children."
And then I've been paying ever since for that free lunch
because now I have to feed Alan, two children, a dog,
and I don't know how many guests coming to Prickly Pear.
So it was never a free lunch!
-It was a good lunch.
-It was a good lunch, yes.
Now I have to cook it myself!
It's amazing to think that they can feed this many people
and not dry out the fish.
-It was excellent.
-Yeah, the food was amazing.
-It was good.
So, it's good that everything was on time today.
-I'm really glad everything went out fast for you.
We try and work with you!
Contestant number one...
At Landsome Bowl Cultural Centre in The Valley,
hundreds of people have gathered to watch this year's four hopefuls
battle for the coveted title of Miss Anguilla.
And contestant number four,
Miss Glow, Miss Carencia Rouse!
Behind the beaming smiles,
contestant number two, Natalie Richardson,
isn't pulling her punches.
I am aiming to win.
I am not aiming for first runner-up, or second runner-up, or...
No place at all!
So, aiming to win, I have to be confident.
The audience, the Anguillian people look for a representative.
They want the best person to represent Anguilla.
So you have a lot of pressure on you.
The first category tonight is the introductory speech.
Ladies and gentlemen, let us reflect on our paradise, Anguilla.
The introductory speech, I feel most confident with.
That's your first segment, you have to wow the audience and the judges
from the time you step out.
So I believe that's my most...
That's my... That's my best area for right now.
We are paradise.
Our people, are the sum total.
Under the glare of the spotlight, nerves start to creep in.
A country is the sum total of its people.
I am a voice in the midst, a...
It's a disappointing start for Natalie.
And to pile on the pressure,
the other contestants deliver flawless speeches.
Miss Carencia Rouse.
The teacher, Mother Nature, goddess of life.
The four rivals pull out all the stops
in no less than six different costume changes,
including carnival and evening wear.
Previous competitions were spread over two nights,
so tonight is a marathon of entertainment for all involved,
including pageant organiser Regine Niles.
We got off to a late start.
However, the show flowed right along.
Usually we do it in two parts.
Tonight we did all of the parts in one night.
So I think we made good time for having done
the whole two shows in one night.
After an epic seven hours,
the time has finally come to announce the results.
Your first runner-up is...
Miss Natalie Richardson,
with 662 points!
With assured performances from all the hopefuls,
Natalie will have to content herself with a very respectable
Ladies and gentlemen,
with 694 points,
she is your Miss Anguilla 2016,
Miss Carencia Rouse!
The annual accolade goes to Oxford scholarship winner Carencia Rouse.
I had to do a lot of hard work, but I knew I wanted it.
And when I want something,
there is no way I'm going to give it anything less than my best.
I worked so hard for this
and I'm just glad to see all my dreams come true.
In the days to come...
..it's carnival time on Anguilla.
Carnival is all about stealing other people's men!
Make sure that your costume is ready, you know.
At least my costume is ready.
Best friends Sue and Trudy prepare their finest glad rags
for the big parade.
-There you go, my dear.
-Oh, my God, it's fantastic!
The island's barbecue king makes his own charcoal
using nature's very best ingredients.
Coal, to me, is what really creates
that fantastic barbecue.
And Bishop Brooks reminds his flock about the real purpose of carnival.
No nation of power has any right to enslave anybody.
We will do our part
to make sure that it doesn't take root in our region again.
The Bishop and The National Trust are visiting the desolate island of Sombrero, once home to a thriving guano-mining industry and now home to thousands of protected sea birds. On Prickly Pear island, Allan and Sue Ruan race against the clock to deliver lunch to hungry tourists at their pop-up restaurant, and back on Anguilla, four talented ladies battle it out for the prestigious crown of Miss Anguilla.