Ironman of States is up for endurance test of government

Continuing her series of interviews with first-time deputies, Helen Bowditch spoke to Andy Cameron, whose sporting interest makes him ideally suited for the job

First-time deputy Andy Cameron finds life in the States ‘completely immersive’. Away from government he tests himself by competing in Ironman triathlons. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 29294706)
First-time deputy Andy Cameron finds life in the States ‘completely immersive’. Away from government he tests himself by competing in Ironman triathlons. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 29294706)

DEPUTY Andy Cameron is shivering, but not from the new weight of responsibility on his shoulders – he is just back from a lunchtime swim across Pembroke.

This interview was done during the intense cold snap at the beginning of the lockdown, and he describes the biting cold ‘ice cream brain freeze’ of the first couple of minutes in the water, and then how it is hard to smile or move the mouth afterwards because the face is so numb.

This is the stuff he does for fun, which gives a good insight into what makes this political newcomer tick.

He is the first States member to have completed several Ironman distance triathlons, but it was something that he only got into just before the age of 40.

By his own admission, at that stage he was ‘pretty overweight and unfit’, and a passing comment from his brother led to a big life change.

‘I got into triathlon about 10 years ago. I can remember being at a barbecue and eating pretty much every other burger that came off and my older brother said to me that I’d probably be looking at a heart attack within a few years if I carried on that pathway.

‘So I changed after that and realised I had to do something. I was quite sporty in my 20s and into cycling and running, so I gave triathlon a try and got absolutely sucked in, and four years later I was competing in extreme Ironman events, and it went from there.’

Endurance is now hard-wired into his character, so becoming a member of Education, Sport & Culture was a natural fit because being in charge of the island’s most contentious issue requires a lot of mettle.

‘The education review is definitely an endurance event, it’s about getting it across the finish line, we’ve got to keep slogging away and get to a place where hopefully the majority of stakeholders are happy with the decision.

‘A lot of people want to be heard, everybody has some sort of variation of the model that they believe should be listened to and taken in.’

Completing that review and finding a solution to the problem that has dogged the last couple of States’ terms is his top priority.

Another goal is to promote active travel.

‘The school run really is something that we’ve got to put an end to, we’re just surrounding our schools with congested traffic, belching out carbon monoxide.

‘It’s bad for the economy, it’s bad for the environment, it’s bad for health, it’s bad for our children’s future.

‘As we redo the schools, we really need to look at putting a layer of cycle infrastructure over the top of this so that we’re allowing our children to cycle to school. It’s important for our students to be independent and cycling encourages this.’

Deputy Cameron is also a member of Environment & Infrastructure, so he has a heavy workload, but he stressed that he was thoroughly enjoying the new job.

‘It’s so varied, it’s completely immersive, it takes over completely, it’s definitely not a 9 to 5.

‘There are really long meetings, you’re checking emails early on in the morning and throughout the day, WhatsApp groups are pinging constantly.’

Jumping on the bike and immersing yourself in cold water suddenly does not sound like such a bad idea after all.

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