Lisa Honan nee Phillips was St Helena’s first female Governor (not counting female deputies stepping up) and on the 4th May Lisa and her husband Dave stepped onto the SA Airlink flight and left the island.
^Lisa at a Remembrance Service
Lisa isn’t one for cheesy and sentimental farewells, but is one for social media activity and could actually read this, so I would never embarrass her by gushing about what an inspiration she had been to any other female aspiring to break glass ceilings, or all of the good she influenced.
^Lisa Christmas Eve 2016
She will probably be mostly known for opening up Plantation House to St Helenians. Stories of governors and their wives previous to Lisa talk about keeping the house closed. For some, Plantation House was only their residence and was a private place. For Lisa, she felt she was a tenant and the House belonged to the people of St Helena.
Lisa summarised what had been achieved over the last three years during her time in office, including:
- More openness and transparency of SHG business through more open meetings and real time reporting, more papers published online, Councillors’ ‘Oath of Confidentiality’ overturned, more public engagement through Social Media and more access to the Governor including through a Facebook page
- Start of the first scheduled commercial air service to St Helena on 14 October 2017
- Seamless transition of airport operations from Basil Read to St Helena Airport Limited
- Family Refuge opened and protection orders for women affected by domestic violence introduced
- Voting age lowered to 17 years
- Island’s marine resource protected forever in law along with strict environmental legislation to protect biodiversity
- First same sex marriage following passage of legislation; weddings also permitted anywhere on the Island
- Funding secured for fibre optic internet cable which will massively improve connectivity.
Lisa made it her mission to invite everyone living on St Helena for tea during the course of her contract. There were black tie balls, BBQs, charity events and even weddings held at the house. In 2017, our team even hosted our Christmas party there and I have particular fond memories of rapping to Eminem in the dining room(!).
Lisa also opened up the house to visitors regularly on Tuesdays and often on Sundays particularly when cruise ships were in. Many other attractions don’t open on Sundays, cruise ship or no cruise ship, and she aimed to fill a gap in the market to ensure people could at least see Jonathan and the house. Lisa even did tours herself from time to time, if it wasn’t the Head of the House Debbie doing it.
At the end of 2017/beginning of 2018 Dave and Lisa started dating and were married within a year or two, with a small ceremony in Lisa’s Office at the castle (!) and a small reception at their house.
^Lisa and Dave Christmas Eve 2016
Dusty, Lisa’s dog, caused tongues to wag as much as her tail. Dusty was set upon by the local lothario (think Lady and the Tramp) and had a litter of puppies now known as ‘the Governor’s puppies’. There was also the story of Dusty going after and harming a sheep whilst Dave was walking her, and that is what exposed their relationship to the public. Still, the story became a part of theirs- their wedding cake showed parts of their life and that so called ‘scandal’ was a feature.
Lisa had a door open policy, continually wrote about issues using social media and really engaged with local people. She will be sorely missed. In a world where female leaders are often judged more harshly then men, where what they wear is often reported on more that what they do, and a world where society doesn’t celebrate female role models often enough; on St Helena, for a few years at least, little girls growing up have been shown that they too could be influential. They could even become a Governor one day.
^Lisa Honan and I April 2019