Vale Womtelo Fr Baldwin Lonsdale 5/8/1948 – 17/6/2017

File image of President Baldwin Lonsdale in 2016. Photo: Adventist Record

File image of President Baldwin Lonsdale in 2016. Photo: Adventist Record

The best portrait of Vanuatu’s much-loved President Baldwin Lonsdale who passed away at the weekend was given by Godwin Ligo in the Daily Post today. Ligo highlighted President Lonsdale’s leadership capacity and the importance of his faith. He was born at Nereningman Village, Motalava, on August 5, 1948. He was one of 11 children (six girls and five boys). He began his education at Motalava Primary School (1959–1963) and then attended St Patrick’s, Vureas on Ambae, 1964–1967. He received diplomas from Bishop Paterson College in the Solomon Islands and St John’s College, Auckland.

Baldwin Lonsdale was married to Lilian Sarginson, who predeceased him. They had six children. He began a working life with Burns Philp in Port Vila, 1972—1975. He was then, however, recruited into the British National Service. He served in the Establishment Division. He also became the Principal of Torgil Rural Training Centre, and for the Vanuatu Government he worked as National Youth Coordinator from 1998 to 2006. At other times he was the Anglican priest in an Anglican village somewhere in the more northerly islands of the country.

Fr Baldwin Lonsdale’s appointment as Head of State needed eight rounds of voting in the Electoral College, but ended with a unanimous vote of 22 September, 2014. The elders of his island then gave him the custom name of Womtelo, which means ‘eye of the sun’.

President Lonsdale’s body will be carried in procession tomorrow morning, after continuing to lie in state today, to the rotunda of Parliament for his funeral service and then flown to Motalava for burial.

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