Former Merchant Navy Officer, Air Traffic Control Engineer and long time volunteer, Simon Langlois is currently helping to get a parish environmental initiative started.
The new St. Brelade Repair Café will be serving up refreshments alongside repair services, inviting islanders to bring their broken items and learn new DIY skills, all while having a cuppa.
With the café set to open this Saturday, Simon took a break from tools and cups of coffee to give Express his top five things about Jersey.
Working on ships for most of my 11 years away gave me the opportunity to travel to many places around the world. I was left in no doubt that this little gem of an island is where I want to live, and in which I feel privileged to live. The grass isn’t always greener.
We may not have mountains, lakes and rivers, but we are certainly spoilt for choice when it comes to scenic walks in the countryside, beaches, dunes, cliff paths and panoramic views. And the fresh sea air. Our built heritage too, like Mont Orgueil - Now that’s a castle!
Pictured: "Mont Orgueil - Now that’s a castle!"
Years ago in England, I met this girl. I told her all about my little home Island of Jersey and persuaded her to come over for a holiday, which she did. 38 years and 3 children later, we’ve never for a moment regretted setting up home here.
It was expensive, but we knew that there was no better place to raise children, not just because of the safe and beautiful environment, but because so many of my extended family are here, and what a wonderful place for my wife’s family to enjoy when they visit.
In the years after the Occupation, my parents’ generation saw many family members emigrate to places like Australia; aunties, uncles, cousins, never to return. Before the days of easy travel and instant worldwide video communication, they might just as well have gone to the Moon.
Fortunately, since then, Jersey has moved on in so many ways, and although it is more financially challenging for young people to afford to live here than ever before, we would be delighted to see our own children and their future families settle down in their home island. Just saying!
Pictured: "38 years and 3 children later, we’ve never for a moment regretted setting up home here."
Being away for so many years made me realise what an amazing community and community spirit there is in Jersey, something I never experienced to the same extent anywhere else.
The St. Brelade Repair Café is a prime example. Since we started organising and promoting the project a few weeks ago, I have found myself on a wave of positivity, with people offering their time and resources to help, and organisations offering financial assistance, such as the JEC ‘jump-starting’ the project with start-up capital. It makes all the time and effort feel worthwhile.
We are now hoping that States Members will feel the positivity and strength of community support for this environmental, social and educational project, by allowing space to be used in the old, empty Les Quennevais School. Again, just saying!
Pictured: Simon has found himself on a "a wave of positivity" since beginning development on the St Brelade's Repair Café.
Although our collective history may not be whiter than white, and I doubt that anywhere else is any better, I am particularly proud of the way that Jersey has been able to adapt to change over the centuries. Perhaps by virtue of our small size, we’ve been agile enough to enable our economy to evolve to meet the needs of our island community.
We’re famous and entrepreneurial, with our Jersey Cows, Jersey Royals, woollen Jerseys, international finance and tourism, along with ship building, fishing, transatlantic trading and even a cider industry. This gives me confidence that we have the potential to to deal with whatever comes at us, be it Covid, Brexit, or whatever’s around the corner - We’re ready.
Pictured: "I am particularly proud of the way that Jersey has been able to adapt to change over the centuries."
By far the biggest immediate threat around the corner is the Climate Crisis. The States of Jersey has officially declared that we are in a climate emergency and I’m sure that we’re all hoping they’ll take the necessary urgent and proportionate action.
More than once, history has proved that Jersey can be a World leader if we put our minds to it, so the fifth thing I like about Jersey is our latent potential to set an example and show the World how we can take positive action to do something about the climate.
Small actions we achieve here, extrapolated to the wider World, could make a huge difference to the lives of billions, ourselves included. Let’s see some of that Jersey potential!
Pictured: "By far the biggest immediate threat around the corner is the Climate Crisis." (Picture: Gary Grimshaw)
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