2017 for all of its accomplishments will also go down as the year in which Barbados lost some of its most illustrious sons and daughters of the soil.
Topping that list was former Governor General Sir Clifford Husbands, who was appointed to serve as the Queen’s representative here in June, 1996 until his retirement in October, 2011, after a highly successful and illustrious career in the field of law.
Before taking up the position of Governor General, Sir Clifford already had several legislative titles under his belt, including Director of Public Prosecutions, Supreme Court Judge, Justice of Appeal and Acting Chief Justice.
In the end he would be described by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart as “an asset to the public life of Barbados”, who rendered “impressive service” to the country — sentiments which were echoed by many of his former colleagues in the legal profession.
Delivering the eulogy at his near two-hour, solemn state funeral service which was held at the St Lucy Parish Church on November 3, Queen’s Counsel Brian Clarke also described Sir Clifford as a loving and devoted family man, who also loved the land.
Clarke also recalled that Sir Clifford had integrated his passion for agriculture with his role as head of state by starting the Governor General’s two-week agriculture summer camp.
“His intention was to show children that agriculture was not dreary, but the backbone for sustainability of the nation,” the Queen’s Counsel told the large gathering that included a long list of official dignitaries, led by Acting Governor General Sir Philip Greaves, ex-Governor General Sir Elliott Belgrave and Lady Belgrave, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, former Prime Minister Owen Arthur, Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson and former Chief Justice Sir David Simmons.
Earlier in the year, the legal fraternity was also thrown into mourning with news of the death of Director of Public Prosecutions Charles Leacock, QC, who passed away suddenly in July after undergoing prostate surgery in Florida.
The late Guyana-born chief prosecutor rose to the position of Barbados’ DPP in 1997, becoming the fifth and youngest holder of the office at age 39.
Throughout his 20-year tenure as DPP, Leacock became known for his strong convictions and zealous debates as he successfully put away some of the worst criminals to ever walk the streets of Barbados.
“He was a dear friend and a colleague. We sat in the committee of Permanent Secretaries together every month and he will be dearly missed . . . . We have lost a great Barbadian,” said Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs Gayle Francis-Vaughan in expressing her profound sadness over Leacock’s death.
An emotional Queen’s Counsel Ralph Thorne also reacted to the news of the passing of the man he described as a long time friend and legal colleague.
Thorne reported that from the time Leacock entered the legal profession in 1983, he knew that his life’s calling would have been in the prosecution of crime, as he spoke of Leacock’s unrivalled confidence and prowess when facing a fellow attorney or judge during his illustrious legal career.
“Charles had the ability to lighten the heavy burden of criminal trial with a sharp wit that nurtured our friendship that never dimmed in the adversarial process.
“He had the ability to sway judges and juries with sound legal research, beautiful language and a most charming disposition. He did all this while stealing occasional glances at the desperate defence,” Thorne said.
One of the island’s greatest musical talents was also silenced in 2017.
Adrian Boo Husbands died suddenly back in January.
“Boo cared about people and he loved music. He treated it with respect and he was a brilliant musician, manager and friend,” said his former colleague and co-manager of the Headliners calypso tent Anderson Blood Armstrong.
Missed by persons of all walks of life, Boo was hailed by Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley as “the best director of culture that was never appointed by any government”. Krosfyah Manager Ingrid Holder also described Husbands as “the life of the party”. She said Barbados’ music fraternity had suffered a great loss, as he was responsible for the development of many local singers and musicians.
Respected church leader and retired Dean of the Anglican Church Frank Marshall passed away in August at age 71.
In mourning the church’s loss, Bishop John Holder said Marshall’s pastoral skills had made “a great difference in the ministry of the mother church of the Diocese”.
In delivering the eulogy at his funeral service, the current Dean of the Cathedral Rev’d Jeffrey Gibson recalled that during the early 1990s when the country was facing serious economic challenges, Marshall in association with other conscientious clergymen had set the stage for further dialogue between Government and labour.
This year, the island also bade farewell to the Director of the Barbados Red Cross, Edmund Bradshaw, who died in December, after heading up the local benevolent organization for almost 18 years.
“Mr Bradshaw was a very dedicated person who served in other capacities across Barbados in other charities and agencies. He loved young people and more importantly he loved working to the benefit of the most vulnerable,” said Red Cross Youth Office Director Petersen Yearwood.
He also described Bradshaw as the “driving force” behind the Red Cross’ annual Christmas programme, adding that “he will be missed”.
Marcia Trotman also left this Earth, but with her record as Barbados’ youngest Olympian still in tact. Trotman who represented Barbados in the Olympics at age 17 died in October at 62.
The former Olympian, who passed away after a struggle with illness, was among the historic five-member Barbadian female squad to compete at the Munich Olympic Games in 1972.
Fellow Olympian and former teammate Freda Nicholls recalled that Trotman was the first Barbadian to clock 24 seconds in the 200 metres and was rated among the top 50 runners in the world of her era in that event.
“She was a fierce competitor on the world stage in her time and Marcia was also a competitor in the Christian race,” said Rev’d Sylvan Payne during her going home service at the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex, which was filled with relatives, fellow Barbados Olympians, other sports personalities and other well-wishers.
The island was also rocked by a number of bizarre deaths this year, including that of 74-year-old Verona Gibson, a retired nurse, who was mauled by a pack of dogs in January.
The attack occurred a mere stone’s throw away from her home as Gibson was on her way to clean the St Barnabas Anglican Church in St Michael. The owner of the dogs, Peter Christopher Rock, was subsequently slapped charges in June and released on $65,000 bail. The court case continues.
Equally tragic was the death of Nicholas Shepherd, a 35-year-old father of three, who was stung to death while picking mangoes a short distance from his Marchfield Close, St Philip, home back in June. One-month-old Kaiden DaCosta Greenidge died in mysterious circumstances at the Divine Day Nursery and Pre-school in Blackrock in September with Minister of Social Care Steve Blackett questioning the wisdom of placing an infant in nursery care at such a young age.
Police constable Wallace Greenidge and his 49-year-old friend Kenmore Mayers were fishing when they disappeared from the sea rocks off the Animal Flower Cave, St Lucy sometime after 11 p.m. on Friday, November 10. Two days later the body of 38-year-old Greenidge was retrieved from the choppy waters close by members of the Barbados Coast Guard. However, the body of his companion is yet to found.
2017 will also go down as the year in which 30 Barbadians were murdered, including 23 who lost their lives to unwanted gun violence.
One such tragedy occurred during this year’s last lap Crop Over celebrations which were marred by news of the killing of 20-year-old Taried Junior Rock during a shooting incident on Grand Kadooment Day that also left over a dozen people injured. That incident came less than a month after 58-year-old Colleen Beresdean Payne, of Lodge Hill, St Michael, was attacked and shot while at the Royal Bank of Canada Automatic Teller Machine at University Drive, Black Rock, St Michael around 9 p.m. on July 17.
By year end Barbadian superstar Rihanna was among those appealing for an end to the gun violence after tragedy hit home and her 21-year-old cousin Tavon Kaiseen Alleyne of Lakes close, Eden Lodge, St Michael fell victim to the worrying crime scourge.
In a year in which there were 28 road deaths and 25 fatal accidents, 31-year-old Amanda Danielle Byer, of Coral land, Haggatt Hall, St. Michael died after her motor car struck an embankment and later collided with a guard wall as she was returning home from the Hennessy Artistry show on December 3.
On December 29, cyclist Damien Taylor would also succumb to his injuries following a three-vehicle smash-up along the ABC Highway. A member of the Ruk-A-Tuk band, Taylor was also an upcoming disc jockey and martial artist, who represented Barbados in the World Taekwondo Championships in South Korea. He recently earned a Bachelor’s in Law from the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus and was pursuing a law certificate at the Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad and Tobago.