By Governor Peter Beckingham
Jill and I had the great privilege to visit Bethlehem this year, on the way to Turks and Caicos from India. The place where Jesus was born is now a shrine visited by millions of pilgrims, like us, from around the world. Despite the crowds it is a town, surrounded by the hills where shepherds can still "watch their flocks", with the mysticism of one of the world's great religions.
We look forward to sharing the experience of Christmas in Grand Turk this year. After the last three Christmases in a predominantly Hindu and Muslim India, I'm sure we will enjoy the carols and the Bible readings. We are used to spending the holiday without the traditional snow which Europeans expect! Christmas is also an occasion when families congregate, and we are looking forward to one of our two daughters joining us with her husband after the long journey from Hong Kong.
I hope that many Islanders and others living here will also enjoy the opportunity, if they are not working, to spend some time with friends and family.
Jill and I have greatly enjoyed our first months in Turks and Caicos. The welcome from the Premier, his Government, the opposition and everyone we have had an opportunity to meet so far has been warm and hospitable, not least in the family islands, as well as in the shops of Provo and the beaches on Grand Turk.
Like all new years, I'm sure 2014 will bring its share of challenges, pleasures and disappointments. For Turks and Caicos these will include the impending trials of the former premier and some of his colleagues. There will also be big decisions to make about how much development the islands wish to see. In all of these challenges my wish is that the leaders of your country follow the example of one of the world's finest leaders, Nelson Mandela, whose passing we mourn. His respect for others, including his former bitter enemies, his humility and his grace under pressure are examples to us all.
I hope everyone in the Turks and Caicos has a peaceful Christmas, and a New Year which brings prosperity and optimism for our and the Islands' future. I am confident this can all be achieved by working together with purpose and respect.