Today I undertook my last interview for the Anguilla Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACOCI). I must admit, when I take a moment to think about it, I am going to miss the Chamber.
I first became involved with ACOCI in December 2006, when I was approached by a volunteer with the Chamber asking if I would be interested in writing for, taking photographs and editing a new publication that the Chamber wished to bring out. ACOCI had had a one page newsletter up until this point and wished to make a proper magazine out of the production. I was to be the one to take the project forward.
ACOCI is a small Chamber. It has less than 100 supporting members and so money is always tight. Nevertheless, Executive Director, Calvin Bartlett, had big ideas. He and I, and the talented layout professional, Valerie Zaharia, got together and decided just what we would do and how we would go about it.
Our first effort was a four page publication in colour, printed on cheap, thin paper but it was substantially more rewarding for ACOCI members than its flimsy predecessor. It covered the AGM and, for the first time, offered members the chance to interact with each other via the newsletter. From here we moved on to targeting individual companies and looking at why they joined the Chamber and what benefits they got out of it. Little by little the word spread. Soon we were up to 8 pages in quality paper and struggling to contain all we wanted to report on within it. Some editions have overspilled into flyers inside the main edition. We started to attract advertising and, although this is something that the newsletter needs to work on in the future, it started to generate income towards paying for itself. We now have business people contacting the Chamber and asking to be interviewed for the magazine. From a very small beginning a thriving magazine has been born.
It will be hard to leave my baby behind. As all parents know, letting go is difficult. I am not sure if it will be in good hands when I leave the island at the beginning of September. It may be that I will retain some of my writing and editing duties purely because there is no one else on the island willing to take it on. The wonders of modern technology mean that email makes my working for the Anguilla Chamber a viable option, even from England.
Today though, as I chatted with the Director of the Financial Services Commission for the next edition, I reflected that this would be my last interview. Over time, I have talked to many local business people, many of whom have gone on to become friends. This is, after all, a small island. I will miss this opportunity to get to know people in this manner.
I will be photographing the Anguilla Carnival for the newsletter as I did last year. This should be my final official act as photographer and will lead to the my final editing of my final edition. A sober thought.