FOTBOT COMMITTEE MEMBER VISITS MONTSERRAT

By Kieron Murphy, Project Coordinator

Kieron.Murphy@fotbot.org

As I arrived in Montserrat touching down at J A Osborne Airport, the fact that the islands only airline is a fleet of small light aircraft this prepared me for what was to be a very different visit from anywhere else I have been. Not long into my visit the overwhelming sense of loss among the local population could be felt. The volcano; since 1995 has continued to threaten and destroy a large part of the Island and its Capital, Plymouth. Long gone and buried under the volcano ash with only the tops of high buildings, a church spire and clock tower left visible. Talking with the locals and our guide; it wasn't always like this, looking at pictures of which some had been salvaged from the destroyed houses you could see this was in fact a thriving, well established community with good tourism links, a healthy population and a favoured place of work and retreat for many international stars including the Beatles, Elton John, Sheena Easton and many more who used the recording studio there, now destroyed.

What was different about Montserrat among many places that once were, is that the issues it faces is not a result of war, or political fallout, a financial crisis or even the fall of an empire but in fact Mother Nature itself. But what there is, is hope and that hope was evident among the remaining 5000 population. What hasn't been destroyed is the sheer beauty of this island, while it doesn't have the typical beauty of the white sand beaches and all-inclusive luxury hotels like the neighbouring islands it has an authentic beauty of un spoilt landscapes, luscious green and tropical forests, peace and a calming feel to the place. There are efforts taking place to reverse the devastation by the volcano and building work is taking place and make coming to Montserrat more attractive. Fittingly the last feature I visited before we caught the ferry back was a natural spring of fresh water, with a sign that read "Drink here and you will return" to which I gladly did because that's what this Island needs is visitors to take it forward and it's a visit well worth making I can assure you of that.