Jersey's Lieutenant Governor has praised health workers, government officers and community volunteers in his annual Christmas message.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton says he has been impressed and inspired by how so many have worked to overcome the struggles caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
He says islanders should evoke the spirit of returning soldiers, evacuees and deportees 75 years ago, and should look to them as we consider how we deal with the ongoing challenges presented by the global health crisis.
His Excellency has called on islanders to face down disaster with resolve and determination and keep pulling together to build a society where 'all can flourish and thrive'.
"At Wimbledon, written above the doors leading out from the clubhouse on to Centre Court are the following words from Rudyard Kipling’s poem, ‘If’: “If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same”, of course, his implication being that you will be a better person.
"These are the words that all the players see just before they leave the relative sanctuary of the Clubhouse to join in their ‘battle’ to win or lose, to be crowned Wimbledon champion or runner-up, to be celebrated as a star or to be consoled as the ‘almost made it’.
"Well, this year, of course, there were no Wimbledon Championships and so, like so many sporting and other competitions, there was no need for any of the players to have to treat ‘victory or defeat’ as Kipling urged us to treat ‘triumph and disaster’ in his poem.
"Yet, here in Jersey, as elsewhere in the world, our island community has faced some very difficult challenges - some very personal ones and some broader, more community-based concerns.
"However, as these demands have been addressed, many of us have been so impressed and inspired by the way in which individuals and groups have risen to tackle these personal issues and community challenges.
"The most acute opponent in nearly all the situations that we have faced this year, has been the global pandemic, which has impacted us in this island every bit as much as it has challenged other jurisdictions and countries in the world.
"However, I have been heartened and reassured by the willingness of those islanders who have individually and as part of formal or ad hoc organisations and teams stepped up to support their neighbours, communities and in some cases the whole island during this very significant and ongoing challenge to life.
"In all of this, the triumph has been, that the majority of islanders have demonstrated compassion, resolve and commitment to overcoming the medical emergency and in so doing, they have shown that real Jersey spirit to those well beyond our shores.
"We are fortunate to live in a beautiful island environment and in a safe environment in which to work and bring up children. Whilst life is a daily challenge for some in Jersey, many people in the world live in constant danger and fear for their lives; however, the inspiring nature of human endeavour means that every day, scientists, engineers, teachers, workers and leaders are striving hard to devise better methods, technological solutions and practical ways of improving life for all of us.
"The development and now distribution and delivery of the vaccine to help beat COVID-19 has been achieved by skilled professionals with the aim of helping the people of the world overcome this pandemic.
"Health and care workers have shown their commitment, devotion and compassion most vividly over the last few months and many other people, often unheralded and without seeking any recognition or reward, have carried out essential work to keep us fed, safe, mobile and secure.
"Many government staff have continued to work, mostly unseen, throughout the pandemic, analysing, planning, developing and delivering essential services and leading the unprecedented response to the impact of the virus. This broad and multi-role response has shown the warmth and ability of Jersey women, men and children to respond willingly, innovatively and compassionately to a threat and requirement; they have set us all a very positive example!
"Christmas is a time for reflection, a time to take stock and an opportunity to look forward to the coming year. It is the eternal message of Christmas, that life is beautiful like a new-born baby, full of hope and wonders and whilst, for some, there is much that could be better, for all of us, Christmas is a time to renew our faith in the goodness of people, even those with whom we do not always agree.
"While we should always seek to reflect and learn from the past, we must take on the critical challenges that we face and look forward to what we can do and how we can help tackle them positively and productively. Going forward, we have the ability in our collective hands to improve life here in Jersey; to tackle those difficult issues, to find effective social and technical answers and then to implement the changes that are needed.
"Change, developing and embracing fresh ideas, innovative technology and different methodologies is, of itself, challenging. As evacuees, servicemen, deportees and other islanders started to return to Jersey 75 years ago, they came home with a real sense of relief, hope for the future and belief that life was already getting better. However, as a number of the exhibitions and memories recounted this year by those surviving islanders have made clear, life was certainly not straightforward for those returning to the island.
"Importantly, their commitment, spirit and desire to rebuild the island community ensured that Jersey grew to be the society that it is today. Looking forward, whilst the challenges that the island faces are different but significant, adopting that same spirit which islanders showed 75 years ago will see Jersey through these demanding times and enable a better island society to be built for the future.
"Along the road, there have been and will be disappointments, failures and unexpected hurdles, but the island community is strong and by continuing to pull together, Jersey’s population will be able to renew their determination to build a better environment on land, around the coast, and everywhere to provide for this generation of islanders and the next and to continue to build an island society in which all can flourish and thrive.
"Jersey has met and overcome disasters in the past will do again in the future, but it has also had many triumphs in its history. So, let’s look to 2021 as a time to resolve to meet ‘triumphs and disasters’ and treat them as inevitable events along the road, but, let us also remember that there are those elsewhere in the world who face much greater challenges – and be grateful for what we have here.
"As we prepare to celebrate Christmas, with both the opportunity to renew our faith and hope in the promise that was the birth of Jesus and the chance, where practicable, to spend time with our families, let us also be optimistic, because in Jersey, we have much for which to be grateful and the ambition to make life better for all who live here.
"I wish you all a very Happy Christmas with the hope that 2021 will allow us all to once again spend time with our families and friends and enjoy all the benefits of life in the beautiful environment of Jersey."