Roll out the welcome mat - for a President!

The Bishop meets officials at the Sir Joseph Banks Centre in Horncastle EMN-160129-124202001
The Bishop meets officials at the Sir Joseph Banks Centre in Horncastle EMN-160129-124202001

Horncastle could receive its first ever visit by a Head of State ...the President of an Island nation on the other side of the world!

The President of Vanuatu - a group of Pacific Islands formerly known as the New Hebrides - could call off at Horncastle next year.

Vanuatu includes the little known Banks Isles - named after Horncastle’s most famous resident Sir Joseph Banks.

A renowned botanist, Sir Joseph visited the Pacific on one of Captain Cook’s great voyages of exploration in the 1700’s.

Just over a year ago, the islands suffered devastating damage after being struck by Cyclone Pam.

Many schools were among the buildings either wrecked or completely destroyed.

As a result - and given the historic links with Banks Island - the Horncastle based Sir Joseph Banks Society decided to raise money to help re-build the island.

Last week, Bishop Patteson Worek - from the Banks and Torres Island Diocese - visited the Sir Joseph Banks Centre in Bridge Street to receive a donation of £1,300.

He was accompanied by representatives of the Melanesian Mission Society.

And, that visit could lead to great things.

Bishop Patteson was so impressed with Horncastle, he promised to return - and bring the Island’s President with him!

Society secretary Paul Scott said they would welcome the visit with ‘open arms’.

He said: “It’s amazing to think a serving Head of State could actually visit Horncastle.

“As far as I’m aware, that has never happened before and it would be a tremendous first for the town.”

Money raised by the Society will go towards rebuilding Losolava School on Banks Isles.

Bishop Patteson explained that Losolava was one of three secondary schools in the northern isles of Vanuatu. They are all boarding schools run by the Anglican Church who took over responsibility for education from the Government.

Mr Scott added: “The Bishop was delighted with the cheque and we are hoping it will go to a new science ‘wing’ which will be named after Sir Joseph.

“The Bishop is expecting to be part of a delegation to the UK in 2017 and said he intended to bring the President.”