ABOUT Guernsey may geographically be closer to France but it remains loyal to the British crown, and has done since Norman times. With evidence dating from the Neolithic period, the island has been pivotal in battles between the UK and France as well as being an important port for international imports into the UK. Today the island is independent and self-governing. Guernsey is part of the southernmost group of islands that make up the British Isles. They sit in the Bay of St Malo, less than 30 miles from the French coast. The Channel Islands enjoy more sunshine hours each year than the UK. As a result, a variety of plants and flowers thrive in our parks and gardens that may not survive the harsh winters in Britain. With its milder climate, islanders make the most of the outdoors and, with beautiful beaches and cliff paths, island-hopping to its neighbouring islands and eating 'al fresco' during the summer months. The island has a sporting heritage that punches above its weight with World Champion racing drivers, top-ranked tennis players and athletes and even gold-medal winning Olympians among its residents. Guernsey boasts a range of good sporting facilities and a programme of events that can be enjoyed by residents and visitors throughout the year, from taking part in the Guernsey Marathon to cheering on the local rugby and football teams.