24 December 2015
The Chief Minister, Senator Ian Gorst's, message for Christmas 2015:
"The Christmas period provides a time to step back from our everyday lives and to reflect on the year that has past, a year which has seen cause for celebration and for sadness.
2015 has seen the world around us changing at an ever faster pace.
It has been distressing to see the so-called Islamic State continuing to wreak destruction this year, both through direct attacks and by inspiring individuals to act in its name. When 130 people were brutally gunned down in Paris, we were left in shock and disbelief.
Support and solidarity
The attack in France was also an attack on the values we share - freedom, democracy, tolerance. As we struggled to absorb the full horror of those brutal attacks, islanders demonstrated their support and stood in solidarity with our neighbours in France by coming together in the Royal Square.
The abhorrent actions of this terrorist group have contributed to distressing scenes as hundreds of thousands of people flee desperate situations in their homelands. This issue is one of the biggest challenges facing Europe and we all want to see a long term solution. We will be increasing our donations through the Jersey Overseas Aid Commission. We have already given £1million in aid to Syrian refugees and will be allocating more in 2016.
Here in Jersey we have had our own tragedies. For more than two weeks our emergency services and honorary officers have been searching for missing Jerseyman Adrian Lynch, who disappeared after a night out with his work colleagues.
And yet in the midst of tragedy it is important to celebrate the achievements of the passing year.
Celebration of freedom
2015 was, of course, the year of Liberation 70 – a time to remember the Occupation and the restoration of freedom. Every year we celebrate the freedom we enjoy to determine our own future but this year’s commemorations were very special. From the Freedom March – led by bands and military vehicles and vintage cars – to poignant reflection in the presence of HRH the Countess of Wessex, we gathered together to give thanks for islanders’ fortitude during that difficult time.
2015 also saw the largest ever Island Games here in Jersey. We were delighted to welcome more than 2,700 athletes from 24 islands, competing in 14 sports, at 32 venues across the island. The Games gave us a unique opportunity to showcase our island; not only our sporting skills, but also our heritage, our culture, and our people, ably supported by the Waitrose Games Makers. The upgraded sports facilities have also left a lasting legacy for the local sports community.
Jersey has also prompted worldwide interest in the Celtic coins that were found in a field by two determined metal detectorists. The hoard contains gold jewellery that had been hidden for more than 2,000 years.
New dimension to our heritage
And we are into the second of a three year investigation into Ice Age Jersey. Scientific study by experts is adding to our knowledge of human prehistory in Europe and will create an exciting new dimension to Jersey’s heritage and tourist offer.
In government, we have agreed a plan for Jersey which invests more in health, education and infrastructure, while also maintaining services and balancing our books by 2019.
As we start our Christmas celebrations we should remember that our police and fire officers, paramedics and other emergency service personnel will be working hard to keep us safe and well. Volunteers and workers from charities will be making sure the vulnerable and elderly are not isolated, and our churches will be open to all.
Thanks to those who are working
So I would like to thank those of you who will be working – whether for the emergency services, the hospitality industry, caring for the sick, or keeping our infrastructure running.
I know that across the island, families will be celebrating in their own individual ways with their own family traditions. However you are celebrating the birth of Christ, Dionne and I would like to wish you a very Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year."