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Island Parish takes on Falkland Islands

12 December 2014

tiger aspect

"Independent spirits": Dr Hines (centre in photo) with some of his Falkland Islander parishioners

"Independent spirits": Dr Hines (centre in photo) with some of his Falkland Islander parishioners

IN 1982, the Revd Dr Richard Hines, his Ph.D. in plant pathology in hand, was living with his wife among the indigenous people of northern Argentina. It was at "rather short notice" that, after hearing military music over the radio, they had to leave the country.

"We hoped and prayed that we would be able to return to what I believed God had called us to do," he said on Tuesday.

The opportunity finally came, 25 years later, when he became the Rector of the Falkland Islands (Features, 24 February 2012). Then, last year, cameras descended on his parish, the largest in the Anglican Communion, when Tiger Aspect Productions arrived to film An Island Parish for the BBC.

"I am a person who is relatively used to speaking in public, and I was surprised that I found myself tongue-tied in front of the camera to begin with," he said at a preview of the series in London on Tuesday. "But I gradually got the hang of it."

The series shows Dr Hines ministering in Christ Church Cathedral in Port Stanley, and travelling in tiny planes to visit some of his 3000 parishioners, who are dotted around an archipelago the size of Northern Ireland.

Viewers - whom he expects to be "riveted" - will meet a host of "characters", including the island's most famous jockey, Ron Binnie, who is shown making his 50th appearance in the Boxing Day races, alongside his grandson. Also featured is Cedric, a penguin who survived a sealion attack, and the Chaplain to the Armed Forces on the Islands, the Revd Al Nicoll, who is shown leading a Christmas service with the aid of an iPod bought in Baghdad.

Nigel Haywood, the Governor of the Islands during filming (who is shown wearing his full ceremonial uniform, with plumed hat topped with swan feathers), said on Tuesday that the producers had not had to look far to find interesting subjects among the population: "You have to be pretty independent of spirit to live there at all. If you have that, you are going to turn out as a character."

Dr Hines, who retired this year and returned to the UK, said that his time 8000 miles south of the mainland had been "the best sort of work you can imagine."

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