This was a highly successful first tour of six Caribbean countries. We went out planning to draft six routes and have come away with requests to create 29. We planned seven, donated first markers to get routes started in four countries and got two markers permanently placed – in Antigua.
Inevitably we had to learn about the local priorities in each place, some being more interested in tourism, others in health, or their cultural narrative, education and climate change. Happily we are flexible so that our Walkways can support all these sensitivities. There is impetus in many places to progress quickly in advance of The Queen’s Baton Relay in 2017.
We are grateful to the support of The Commonwealth Games Associations in Turks and Caicos, British Virgin Islands and Dominica for hosting us and for the introductions from the High Commissioner of Antigua in London to our generous hosts in English Harbour, Antigua. With the right introductions we were able to achieve a lot quickly.
A particular highlight was meeting so many school children who were particularly supportive of our initiative. We look forward not only to coming back and supporting the development of the routes we have already identified but also to visiting the other Caribbean Commonwealth countries next time.
THE BAHAMAS - 28 October - 1 November
Our first stop on arriving in Nassau was to visit the Prime Minister’s Office, for a meeting. They, the Ministry of Tourism and the National Museum welcomed a Walkway for the capital Nassau and requested 15 more, so that all the major islands of the Bahamas could also be included in the initiative.
The Nassau route was drafted, connecting 16 points of significance on a 3km walk.
TURKS AND CAICOS - 1 - 4 November
On our first day, we attended a meeting convened by the Commonwealth Games Association.
The following day the Deputy Premier adopted our plan and immediately summoned a press conference to announce it.
We also had meetings with the Ministries of Sport, Health and Tourism who welcomed Walkways for the islands of Providenciales and Grand Turk and requested further ones for North and South Caicos too.
The Provo 10km route was drafted to celebrate the Commonwealth Games Association’s 12 main sports with a route along the main beach in Princess Alexandra National Park.
Pupils from the HJ Robinson High School helped draft the Grand Turk 3km route connecting seven key points of significance.
BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS – 4 - 11 November
We explored a route in Tortola during the weekend and first thing on Monday met the Governor at Government House. In subsequent meetings during the week, the Deputy Governor and Premier accepted the concept of a Walkway for Road Town, the capital of Tortola. The Commonwealth Games Association, City Manager and Departments of Planning, Tourism, Health and Education all gave their support to this scheme.
We spoke to 1,600 young people, from Tortola’s four schools, and they were hugely enthusiastic about the Road Town route which connects 15 points of significance on a 5km route.
Further walkways were requested for Virgin Gorda and Anegada.
ANTIGUA - 11 - 22 November
This was a particular highlight of the trip and we spent ten days in Nelson’s Dockyard, in the heart of English Harbour. The Tourism Minister and National Park Commissioner agreed to a 15km Walkway connecting 35 points of significance in the English Harbour National Park World Heritage Site. Uniquely this will include a snorkel section and water taxi ride.
The Governor General received us at Government House in St John’s and came to Nelson’s Dockyard to unveil the first marker of the first Walkway in the Caribbean set in a granite plinth outside the Dockyard Museum. That evening it was shown to HRH Prince Harry on the first stop of his Caribbean tour. A second marker was also installed at the newly restored Clarence House, which was opened by Prince Harry later that evening.
Further Walkways were requested for the capital St John’s and the island of Barbuda.
DOMINICA - 22 - 27 November
The Minister for Sport, Youth and Culture welcomed a Walkway for Roseau, the capital of Dominica. The Mayor, Tourism Ministry and Commonwealth Games Association gave their additional support and further Walkways were requested for Portsmouth and potentially the Kalinago region.
A 5km Walkway was drafted for Roseau, connecting 15 points of significance, and announced on national television and radio.
BARBADOS – 27 November - 3 December
An 8km Walkway has been drafted linking 25 points of significance in the capital Bridgetown. Flash floods and the 50th Anniversary of Independence celebrations limited meetings but contact was made with The British High Commission and the Royal Commonwealth Society of Barbados.
Time did not permit a visit to Cayman, but the Governor indicated initial support, a route was planned and negotiations opened with the various planning departments. A visit will be made on the next trip.
As the map of the region from the next Queen's Baton Relay shows, we are to visit: Jamaica, Cayman, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, Anguilla, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, Bermuda, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize and Guyana But Christmas first!