During the evening of Friday August 21, 2012, the Rev. Sir Wesley Winfield Hall will address patrons at the Grand Prospect Hall in Brooklyn, as they attend a dinner, the centrepiece of a nine-event Combermere School Alumni Global reunion package.
I anticipate that he will pause, allow the applause to crescendo, fix his tie, rise, and approach the podium with the same grace and humility that he has approached the wicket to bowl a ball be it on a cold day at Lords, England, a hot day in Sydney, Australia, or the Cable & Wireless cricket field in Boarded Hall bottom, Barbados.
The Knight Bachelor – a former cricketer, politician, human resource specialist, and telegraph operator – and now a Minister in the Pentecostal Church has always been the veritable “Wes”, irrespective of circumstances and I do not expect him to change.
President of the New York Alumni Branch, Ian Watson, viewed the upcoming reunion as a once in a life time experience.
“I am very excited. It is not everyday that you get to be part of and help organise an event that spans so many generations. We are very fortunate to have the support of renowned persons like Sir Wes and Arturo who have made their mark internationally, and, others like the Waterford Music Society – Big Irie, Madd Comedians and Tin Pan Alley and TC who are very popular in Barbados.
“And I must also pay tribute to contribution of Winslow Seale, a founding member, and others for their dedication and hard work. We just need to spread the word out and a get a full house at each event.”
Randy Braithwaite, another member of the organising committee, notes that while it is a reunion of Combermerians, it is an opportunity for the wider public to participate in and enjoy the varied activities with their friends and family.
“In America and elsewhere, legends like Sir Wes, and artists like Arturo Tappin attract large audiences wherever they speak or perform. I hope that others support us by telling cricketers and jazz loving persons outside the Diaspora that Sir Wes and Arturo will be in town and they should not miss these once in a life time opportunities. The Grand Prospect Hall Caterers love large crowds.”
Ultimately, any party, any family sports day, any show, any dinner, any educational tour which brings together the alumni of one of the oldest schools in Barbados – over 350 years – will be a memorable and historic occasion, if only because many will toast, reflect and laugh.
But none of the laughter, however real, can replace experience of being in the same place of a legend, who has not lost the common touch, who is known to be poetic, charismatic, and at times transformational and who altered the course of many cricket matches by words of inspiration.
Fortunately, the undecided still have a few days to make up their mind from among seven different events: A church service, an educational tour, Atlantic City trip, a Broadway play, a musical and entertainment show, a dinner dance and a family day. Some are for visiting alumni. The general public can enjoy all.
All hail Sir Wes
My footnote today is not a provocation. It is simply my recollection of a description of the famous commentator John Artlott of one of Hall’s moments:
“And Wesley Hall tall, athletic with broad and muscular shoulders, turns at the Vauxhall road end, mops his brow, tugs his flannel and breaks into a trot and is on his way; now his strides lengthens, he rises and opens his shoulders, delivers… Boycott gropes, Greenidge tumbles and England has now regressed to 28 for three.”
Like John Artlott, Sir Wes is also an image maker and story teller.