SINO-BRITISH relations are this week that little bit more cordial thanks to a spectacularly helpful community effort and the generosity of the islands' Steamship Company.
Three female and two male Chinese day-trippers, in their late twenties, were stranded on St Mary's after missing the Scillonian III's earlier-than-usual departure for Penzance.
"They spoke good English and had apparently been told the ship was leaving at 3pm rather than the usual time because of weather," explained community support officer Shirley Graham. "They either didn't understand or forgot."
Due to fly out to China from Gatwick Airport the following evening, they tried, with the help of the Steamship Company's Helena Plowman, to get off the island by air, but adverse winds had grounded flights.
The stranded group, who had been staying in the youth hostel in Penzance, had brought no credit or debit cards and had spent what money they had on them.
Thanks to WPC Faye Webb ("She went out of her way to help, bless her," said Shirley) and Helena berths were eventually found courtesy of Mervyn Bird's Pelistry camp, with the council's emergency department supplying the visitors with sleeping bags.
"They didn't have any kit or warm clothes," said Shirley, "and when Faye went to check on them at 10pm they were freezing." Instead, she arranged accommodation at the Mundesley school boarding hostel, empty for the weekend.
The next morning the first of the Steamship Company's Skybus aircraft to depart took them off en route for the train, Gatwick and home.
"They were very well looked after," said Shirley.
"As usual, our community pulled together."