The People’s Baptist Church could not contain those who arrived at the Rock Hall, St Philip church to celebrate the life of 23-year-old Andre Jabarry Gittens today.
The Crane Resort employee and three of his colleagues, Vincentians, Aziza Awanna Dennie, 19; Danee Deverey Horne, 17; and Carianne Lee-New Padmore, 18, lost their lives in collision with a taxi van at Graeme Hall Roundabout on January 29.
It was standing room only as many came to pay their last respects to their family member, friend and workmate. A crowd from Gittens’ alma mater, Christ Church Foundation Secondary School, donned their school ties to honour their former classmate and friend, while other mourners wore t-shirts and pins paying tribute to the late Gittens.
Principal Robert Cumberbatch was also present, as well St Philip North representative and Minister of Transport & Works Michael Lashley.
At the start of the service, Andre’s mother, Cynthia Gittens, delivered a powerful rendition of Because He Lives. Throughout the funeral she maintained a strong front, silently grieving in the arms of her husband Michael. However, at the end of the service she openly cried over the loss of her only son.
Gittens was an avid member of the Redemption Ministries Church, and his eulogy was read by his friend and director of the youth group Kenroy Birch.
Birch spoke of how Andre captivated teachers and classmates alike with his smile and jovial manner. Recounting how the former youth president lifted the spirits of those around him, Birch said: “If the church ever had a picnic, social event or a bus ride, you could hear the laughter in the back coming from the boys and be sure. Andre was always one smiling from ear to ear.”
Speaking on the behalf of the family, Birch recalled Gittens’ close relationship with his family.
“He had a special bond with his sisters Trecia, Linda and Kimberley. Being the baby in this sibling group coming 12 years after his last sister, he was both disciplined and spoiled by them,” he revealed.
Birch also spoke in detail of the close and loving relationship Andre had with his 86-year-old grandfather Iriving Gooding, also known as ‘Gran’.
“He loved his grandfather dearly and in his eyes he was flawless,” he said.
As Andre’s body was taken out of the Rock Hall, St Philip church, ‘Gran’ was visibly distraught and struggled to remain composed.
Delivering the sermon, Pastor Rev Dr Cliston Burke advised the family that presently, Andre was with the divineness of God and promised them that they will get through their time of sorrow.
Quoting 1 Peter, he said, “cast away all of your care on him and he will care for you”.
“You might not feel like you can get through, but God is able . . . God will strengthen you all during this time of sorrow,” Rev Burke added.