The history that has been written for the 'Monkey Island' project is pure fiction, but could well become a further piece of folklore in years to come.
This project was the outcome of a conversation a few of us had in the Farmers Arms some years ago, when a fantasy was woven whereby the village would be isolated from the rest of the U.K. with its own passports, customs posts, government depts and everything that goes to the make up of a new independent state. Nothing came of this at that time but occasionally we would think, wouldn't it be great if!!
Then, towards the end of last summer 1988 the subject came up again, and we decided that we would do something about it. A meeting was held, and a group of like-minded people discussed what we had in mind, and asked if they were prepared to help in getting this fantastically mad project off the ground. They were, and the Independent State of Monkey Island was born with the prime objectives being; to promote harmony, have fun and laughter, to contribute to village life and activities, and at the bottom line to raise money for local charities.
Everyone involved in this project has in one way or another made enormous efforts to get it off the ground and make it work. The first stage was to get as much publicity as we could and it was decided that we had to do something to Capture the imagination and attention without involving any cost. We put together a package of schemes and idiotic ideas such as linking Lundy Island with Stavanger by nuclear powered tramway with a station on the Farmers Arms Car Park, writing a short fictional history of Monkey Island, raising an Army of 3 men, 1 boy and a tandem, a programme of the Monkey Island Free Radio, with such features as 'Desert Island Coconuts', the 'Junglies' (an everyday story of Gorilla folk). An irrational anthem was written. A letter was written to President Reagan, as he then was, inviting him to be our first President. Peter Temple-Morris M.P. was appointed our representative at Westminster. Three foreign Consuls were appointed, one in Florence, Italy, one in Spain and one in Wales.
Once this package had been assembled we sent copies to the media and waited to see if there would be any reaction. Within 48 hours we were almost overwhelmed by the response from T. V. Radio and Newspapers. They all took it up and wanted to feature this scheme because of its originality and humour. I don't think any of us were prepared for what actually happened. Within hours what had been a local event turned up on national and international news.
We have raised several hundreds of pounds so far for local charities (mainly St Michaels Hospice and Ledbury Hospital). Other deserving causes will benefit from fund raising events which are planned for the coming year. The next event in which we are involved is the London Marathon on April 23rd. Richard Lawrence will be wearing a blue running vest with the Monkey Island Crest, and is running on behalf of Monkey Island charities. He is confident of making very good time. He is a local farmer; very fit and a fine athlete. Sponsor forms have been distributed and we ask you all to support Richard in this event. Look out for him on T.V. as it is very likely that he will be interviewed during his run.
The recent team quiz held in the Village Hall was most successful and raised £145. We shall hold another quiz later in the year.
Other events planned are a car treasure hunt in June, a Halloween barbecue on Halloween night, and a dog show later in the summer. A float has been entered in the Ledbury Carnival and a Monkey Island fringe carnival will be taking place in the village on the August 19th/20th weekend.
We are writing to many World leaders, sports and entertainment personalities asking for memorabilia that we can auction later in the year, we have already received a gilt bronze medallion from ex President Reagan which has aroused a lot of interest and offers of purchase.
The Monkey Island project has created interest. A lot of people are having fun and we hope to raise a lot of money for people, in our local counties,who are deserving of help and support.
Please, in this spirit of care and humour, give us your support. Please join us as families, as a community, in some of the fun events that we are endeavouring to organise during this coming year.
Roland Powell & Peter Constantine. 1989
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