A weekend on Sark!
Sir Ian and Lady Corder spent this Friday and Saturday (21-22 Apr) on Sark to attend the formal opening and dedication of the new Sark methodist sanctuary and to visit some local businesses.
The Methodist Sanctuary is a community wide project that has been gestating for almost ten years now. It is a modern, multipurpose facility that acts as an ingenious combination of community centre, refuge, and retreat. It has been funded both by grants from the Methodist Church and private donations and fund-raising, and has been built almost exclusively by local builders and craftsmen. On Saturday morning His Excellency and Lady Corder attended a service of dedication for the sanctuary before Sir Ian marked its official opening by unveiling a plaque. Almost half the Island's population turned up to witness the big occasion before trying out the new facilities themselves at a celebratory lunch. Sir Ian and Kathryn also took the opportunity to place a few stitches each in the new Sark tapestry, a community project depicting a scene of Sark's magnificent coastline and which hopes to ensure that every islander places at least one stitch in the work. The current intention is that it will eventually be displayed in the sanctuary.
In addition to his formal duties, the Lieutenant-Governor and Lady Corder also managed to visit a number of local businesses, both established and start-up, to see for themselves how the island's economy is faring. They spent time at the local dairy, at Caragh Chocolates (a small luxury chocolate manufacturer which has just completed a major Sark themed rebranding), at the Mon Plaisir Store (Sark's oldest shop specialising in local produce), at the Post Office and General Store, at 'Pip's Pickers' (a start-up crab picking and events catering business), at The Isle of Sark Brewing Co (Sark's first Microbrewery) and with Roseanne Guille (talented local artist) at her brand new art gallery. Sir Ian and Lady Corder also continued their practice of staying overnight at a local B&B which not only allows them to sample a cross section of Sark's visitor accommodation but also to talk with B&B owners about how the tourist industry is faring.
Sir Ian commented that 'Although Sark has suffered from the well publicised closure of a number of hotels and shops a few years ago and the general tightening of visitor numbers across the Bailiwick, the local businesses he had met with seemed to have adjusted and that there was a definite sense of growing optimism.' He also remarked that there seemed to be 'several opportunities for those who wanted to try out new ventures and a number of promising new job prospects'.