Monthly Meeting – Tuesday 14th July 2015
Talk by Simon Cook - The Falkland Islands Flora and Fauna

Simon was stationed in the Falkland Islands in 1974 for one year whilst a Major of physical training in the Royal Marines and in charge of the garrison and without his wife.

There are two main islands and 200 in total, bigger than Wales. They are thought of as cold and bleak and they are similar to the Scottish Highlands. The wind speed averages 25 knots bringing all weathers.

At that time there were no roads, so 4wheel drives and horses were essential for getting around. Port Stanley, the capital, had a population of 1800. Peat was used for fires and kelp was in abundance. The main food was meat from sheep. The soil was not very fertile but is better now. There was a school and no swimming pool since no-one could swim!

There was not a lot to do so could be boring. There was golf, drinking and gossip but very little crime.

The islands were first discovered by a Dutch sea captainin 1540, then in 1600 three islands were spotted, then in 1690 were seriously sighted and named after Viscount Falkland, the First Sea Lord. In 1765 John Byron settled them in the name of King George to be British. The Spanish later made claim but left in 1810. Since 1842 they have been recognised as British with a Govenor.

There is much wildlife including seals, many birds and four types of penguins.

Most church denominations are represented. The people are very friendly and love the English.

Before the war with Argentina in 1982, Mrs Thatcher was unpopular but afterwards she became very popular. The islands even have a Margaret Thatcher Day. Every 10 years the Argentinians threaten to invade again since there is oil there but not yet extracted.

It was interesting to hear from Simon who had such first hand knowledge of the islands and there were many questions for him afterwards.

Hazel Booth