Fortune favours the brave

SOMETIMES simple things restore your faith in the great things Guernsey can achieve.

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But they can also serve to remind you of the opportunities either lost or in danger of being lost because government isn’t bold enough to take the risks needed, too often dipping the toe in the water and pulling it straight back out, or maybe going for a paddle when what is really needed to make progress is a swim.

On Saturday, the Island Games team was arriving back with a serious amount of bling, a few fuzzy heads and some incredible experiences.

Medal winners or not, they all stand as an inspiration for what hard work and dedication can amount to, and this should be a springboard during the next two years before Guernsey 2021.

There is always something very special about large home sporting occasions and the way that they permeate the wider psyche and community.

This is a prime time for anyone working in the health field to promote active lifestyles, for example, to begin turning around the obesity statistics that threaten to become a cultural norm if the trends among young people shown in the healthy weight survey continue to hold steady.

And while Education, Sport & Culture has rightly agreed to invest a significant sum in upgrading tired facilities at Footes Lane, there are other opportunities that now need to be grasped – and its reforms could provide that.

For example, Guernsey is crying out for a 50m swimming pool of the type that was on offer in Gibraltar.

There, the competition pool can be split into two 25m facilities as needed, something that could help take all levels of swimming and participation to the next level here.

No longer would there be hours on end when the pool at Beau Sejour would be unavailable to the community because of training, or different groups scrambling to fit sessions in around competitions at the two school pools at St Sampson’s and Les Beaucamps.

As Education and Health work together on a community hub idea for the Grammar School, as part of the wider reshuffle they should factor in the opportunity for a 50m facility.

Now this type of thinking would, of course, be helped by having some clear direction from a sports strategy that identified exactly where the island wants to go – that is still being drawn up, but if there is any environment in which to generate the debate it is now.

That is one small example of where government investment could have far-reaching impacts should they be willing to take the risk, but we can look to other factors in what makes Guernsey the community it is.

On the weekend, the cliff paths around Moulin Huet were buzzing with life as islanders and tourists trod the Renoir trail that had been set out by Arts for Guernsey, all seeing a small section of our landscape through a completely fresh perspective.

The small exhibition in the former pottery combined with the interactive and informative walk was as successful as any public art offering Guernsey has seen and would have held its own with any similar schemes internationally.

Which is why it is so concerning that the idea from the same group for an art gallery in the heart of St Peter Port has been pushed onto the backburner, like with many of the proposals coming forward for the seafront regeneration.

We are told essentially it is the right idea but in the wrong location (the proposal was for the tourist information building), but there is an understandable fear with the States that this is the stance that will prevail ever more – if something is not perfect, or if a commercially attractive casino proposal comes along, the arts project remains in purgatory.

Guernsey has internationally recognised figures which it just does not make the most of.

Forget the transient interest in the Guernsey Potato Peel Pie Society, the biggest crime in this regard is the Victor Hugo connection.

For too long the island has almost been apologetic about it, or certainly far too complacent, relying solely on Victor Hugo house and the French government.

That has begun to change with the work of the Victor Hugo in Guernsey Society, but again the States seems to be tying itself in knots.

Economic Development has earmarked the former tax office building as a prime opportunity and location for a Victor Hugo centre, yet the property arm of the States has apparently been in talks about selling it without telling the committee. Joined-up government at its finest.

When this States took power, one of the concepts it agreed to within the Future Guernsey plan was that in 20 years’ time, as a community we would be one of the healthiest and happiest places in the world, where everyone has an equal opportunity to achieve their potential. It is time we saw some ambitious, and potentially risky, projects to help make that happen.

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