Overnight on the 5th September 2017, the island of Barbuda was all but wiped out by Hurricane Irma. As the hurricane reached its near peak intensity, it was heading directly over the island with gusts of up to 250km/hr recorded.
By dawn on the 6th September, it was clear that Irma had damaged or destroyed 95% of all buildings – schools, hospitals, hotels and homes, all gone. ‘It is total devastation; the whole of Barbuda is literally rubble’ the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne announced. Estimated costs to rebuild the island’s infrastructure were reported to exceed $150 million, along with forensic analysts predicting the economic loss at around $120 million.
Local Midhurst resident and Economic Envoy to Antigua and Barbuda, Alan Weston, watched the devastation unfold from his safe home here in West Sussex and was desperate to help his friends and family on the islands anyway he could. His close friend, Sir Richie Richardson, was approached to host a golf day in Midhurst to help fundraise for the island and The Country PA Events team set about creating a golf day with a difference….
Blessed with a heatwave and a Rum Shack at the Halfway House, our golf day raised £18,000 for the island of Barbuda, and we were delighted that these funds went directly to help the children of the Holy Trinity Primary School to buy them all new PCs; we were honoured to go to Barbuda in November 2018 to deliver the equipment ourselves and meet the resilient people of Barbuda – a trip we will never forget.
With so much beauty on the islands, famous for having a beach for every day of the year, the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority were the first to let us all know that of course ‘Antigua and Barbuda are open for business’….
With over 200 years of English connections with the islands, from 1784 when Horatio Nelson first set base in English Harbour, there are still so many attractions that still make the islands one of the top Caribbean retreats.
The more we visit the Island of Antigua the quicker Barbuda can be rebuilt.