A retired Cardiff priest has been “exiled” to the same remote South Atlantic island Napoleon was banished to following the Battle of Waterloo.
Until recently 71-year-old Roy Doxsey was looking after St Germans Church in Splott.
But then he got a call from Richard Fenwick, the Bishop of St Helena, asking him to tend to the parishioners of four churches on the island.
In the middle of the South Atlantic, St Helena is 1,200 miles from Africa to the east and 1,800 miles from South America to the west.
It basks in temperatures reaching 28°C in the summer and rarely falls below 17°C during the rest of the year.
Although discovered by the Portuguese, it was settled by the British in 1659 and remains a UK overseas territory ruled by a Governor appointed by the Queen and a 15-member elected legislature.
The bishop convinced him he should go and cover there for three months “and visit the hospital and school there”.
“It came out of the blue,” Canon Roy said. “I got this message that he was looking for someone. We were in college together many moons ago and he got in touch and said, ‘Can you go out?’
“I thought, ‘There’s a place to go that would be interesting.’
“It’s somewhere different, to say the least. It’s the most remote inhabited island in the world. I’m being sent into exile along with Napoleon!”
“I’m quite excited really,” he said. But I have got to leave my two Jack Russells behind, Megan and Jasper.
“I did think about taking them out but it would cost £1,000. And they would have to travel on their own.”
The God-fearing terriers go to church with Canon Roy, where they listen to him preach.
“They just sit there and say their prayers and sing the hymns,” he said.
Canon Roy will be leaving in February, but getting to the island, which measures 10 miles by six miles, is not easy as there is no airport.
“I have to go to Brize Norton, the RAF base, and go to Ascension Island,” Canon Roy said. “Then I have to get on a boat for about two days to get to St Helena.
“It’s quite an adventure.”
Canon Roy insists he is not nervous about the challenge of working on the island, which has a population of just 4,255 according to the last census.
“This will be different,” he said. “I don’t know a great deal about it, other than Napoleon was put in exile there.
“I’m just wondering if that’s the intention – to get me out of the way. It could well be!”