Falklanders speak of gratitude for ‘freedom’ 40 years after invasion.

Residents of the Falkland Islands have spoken of their gratitude for the “freedom” to mark the 40th anniversary of British forces landing on the islands as part of their recapture of Argentina in 1982.

On May 21-22, 1982, British troops conducted an amphibious assault at San Carlos in the Falkland Islands. Argentine forces surrendered on June 14, 1982.

The last landmines were only cleared in 2020, but craters, rubble and countless monuments can still be seen scattered around the islands.

Now, 40 years after the invasion, the Falkland Islands government says it is a “forward-thinking nation, determined to take control of our own destiny and shape our own success”.

Andrew Pollard, 44, pictured in the Falkland Islands (Andrew Pollard/PA)

Andrew Pollard is a sixth-generation Falkland Islander. He was born in West Yorkshire and moved to the Falkland Islands when he was seven.

The 44-year-old works as a nature guide and photographer.

Speaking to the PA news agency, he described his gratitude for the “freedom” the islanders have.

“Although we are Falklanders, we are also very passionately British.

“People here are very grateful for what we have, be it the natural environment or the community spirit.

“Freedom is also something that people value very much. Many have seen that taken away and I think they appreciate things more because of that.”

Christ Church Cathedral in Port Stanley is the southernmost Anglican cathedral in the world (Henry Jones/PA)

In early 2013, the Falkland Islands held a referendum on their political status as a British Overseas Territory.

The result was that 99.8% voted to remain as such.

Mr Pollard said the vote “clearly showed the feelings of islanders” but added that “there is constant frustration across the islands that the right to self-determination in 2022 will be largely ignored by many”.

“Obviously we are very grateful for all the support we are getting from around the world. For many here, the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, (an) aggressive neighbor, brings back many memories of 1982 and similarities can be drawn.”

(Arlette Betts/PA)

Arlette Betts, 77, was born in the Falkland Islands and has lived her entire life there apart from a brief stint in Plymouth during the 1982 conflict.

She runs a guest house in Port Stanley, the capital, and described her experience of the Falkland Islands to PA.

“I am passionate about the islands and have taken every opportunity to promote them.

“My business made that very easy. The wildlife and ruggedness are second to none and the beaches (are) spectacular. When the sun is out and there’s no wind, it’s stunning.”

Ms Betts said the islanders are still reflecting on the war, but added: “In a strange way, however, I feel the war has done us a favour.

“I don’t think the Falkland Islands would otherwise be where they are today.

“Except for our defense, we are now a thriving independent community. It is very reassuring to know that they are here to protect us.”

The Ministry of Defense maintains a permanent presence in the Falkland Islands, with more than 1,000 staff stationed there, along with Typhoon fast jets and the Royal Navy’s HMS Forth.

Two Typhoon jets fly over the Falkland Islands (MOD Crown Copyright/PA)

Despite their remoteness, the Falkland Islands are still well connected to the outside world.

The main airport, RAF Mount Pleasant, receives two flights each week from the UK, known as the Airlift, and one weekly flight from Santiago, Chile.

The Falkland Islands also have regular cargo ship delivery approximately every six weeks.

“Broadly speaking, the Falkland Islands are well catered for in most things,” Ms Betts told the PA.

“The supermarkets are very well stocked. In fact, there’s very little you can’t get here. The Airlift is bringing in a lot of mail so people are shopping online,” added Ms. Betts.

The Falkland Islands government is the largest employer, with agriculture, retail and tourism being other top employers.

Sport is played in the Falkland Islands; The country is represented at the Commonwealth Games and an annual horse race is held every Christmas. Stanley Golf Club claims to be one of the southernmost golf courses in the world.

Residents either live in Port Stanley or “camp,” a term that refers to places outside of Stanley.

Port Stanley was recently one of eight places to earn coveted city status as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

Pete Biggs, Chair of the Falkland Islands Legislative Assembly, said: “We are delighted to have been selected for this very rare award,” adding: “This celebration of her extraordinary reign comes at a time when we are… We are also reflecting on an extraordinary time in our own history as we recall the events of 74 days in 1982 when we were attacked.

“It’s been an unprecedented time for our small community, but I’m delighted to be recognized in this way 40 years after those dark days – I think it shows how far we’ve come in this time. Over the past four decades, we have built a thriving, prosperous nation that continually looks to the future while respecting our past.”

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/british-port-stanley-argentina-people-christ-church-cathedral-b2084483.html Falklanders speak of gratitude for ‘freedom’ 40 years after invasion.

Bobby Allyn

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