Timeline: Late Womtelo Rev. Baldwin Lonsdale

Vanuatu loses its head of state, Father Baldwin Jacobson Lonsdale, a ni-Vanuatu politician and Anglican priest who has served as President of the Republic of Vanuatu since 22 September 2014. Late Father Bani was rushed to Vila Central Hospital in the early hours of Saturday morning but was pronounced dead later.

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.

Before becoming president he was secretary general of the province of Torba on the island of Mota Lava and was elected president in an indirect election by an electoral college consisting of members of parliament and provincial governors, the vote took eight rounds; the longest ballot in the country’s history.

In his first speech as president, Lonsdale stressed the importance of the appointment for the province of Torba, promised to uphold the constitution, and asked the people of Vanuatu to stand united.

Late Father Lonsdale is the second Anglican priest to become head of state, the first one was Father John Bani who served the office from 1999-2004. He is an example of a renaissance man.

The elders of his island then gave him the custom name of Womtelo, which means ‘eye of the sun’.

Profile Abstract – “Daily Post Issue 1528 by Godwin Ligo”






Late Womtelo Rev. Baldwin Lonsdale, President of the Republic of Vanuatu was appointed chancellor of the University of South Pacific on 4th September 2015.


Mr Lonsdale was a highest-ranking chief in Vanuatu’s Banks group of islands.

Patron of Vanuatu Red Cross Society


He will be missed by his family in the Banks group, Torba Province, and the whole nation of Vanuatu.