The people of Montserrat are proud of their home. A home they have had to rebuild after the 1997 Soufrière Hills volcano erupted and destroyed the island’s capital, Plymouth.
Years of volcanic activity forced thousands to flee the island, decimating the population from 12,000 in 1995 to fewer than 5,000 today – 100 times smaller than the Gold Coast. But while they may be small, their community pride is boundless, evident when the Queen’s Baton Relay visited the tiny island territory.
Sprinter Lester Ryan was one of the four athletes to represent Montserrat at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games in athletics. He took pride in showing the children of Brades Primary School and Lighthouse Academy the symbol of the Commonwealth Games, which he holds dear despite an under par performance in Glasgow.
In Glasgow I was not at my full potential as was suffering a hamstring injury, however despite this I learnt a lot and had a great experience. I’m feeling better this year and putting in the hard work so when I come down under to Australia I’m hopefully going to bring home Montserrat’s first Commonwealth Games medal.
The people of Montserrat share Ryan’s hopes. As a nation still rebuilding from the volcano’s destruction, a Commonwealth Games medal may just be what’s needed to inspire a future generation of athletes on the small island.
Into the classroom, the Baton was a special guest as kindergartens from across the island came together to celebrate “Ocean Day”. Hosted by the Aunt Madge’s Day Care Centre, who’s 2017 theme is “Our Ocean, Our Future”, teachers and children were delighted to hear about how plastic collected from the ocean and waterways of the Gold Coast was repurposed to create the leading edge of the Baton. It tied in perfectly with their teaching about the importance of protecting the ocean for a sustainable future.
The Emerald Community Singers celebrated the Baton with their patriotic hit ‘still home, still nice’. Made up of men and women of all ages, the choir has represented Montserrat at competitions throughout the Caribbean and beyond for more than 40 years.