Coral Ridge Memorial Gardens came alive this afternoon to the sweet strains of ruk-a-tuk music, as former flutist Damien Dappa Taylor received a grand send off like no other.
Band leader Wayne Poonka Willock, led the funeral procession into the cemetary to the sounds of the infectious beat, as the powerful rhythm of the drums filled the air and stilt walkers and other dancers and musicians came together for one final celebration in honour of Dappa, who was also an aspiring intellectual property rights attorney.
Not far behind them were members of the biking community, who also came out in droves to give one last salute to their ‘brother’ who died on the road on December 29, doing what he loved – cycling.
But the celebration, which involved hundreds of mourners, would soon turn to tears as the reality of the day finally set in for family, friends and the hundreds gathered to say a fond farewell to the beloved Dappa.
In fact there was hardly a dry eye in sight at his gravesite as mourners came together to sing, It Is Well With My Soul and When We All Get To Heaven.
During his final send off, a yellow smoke bomb was also released by old scholars of Combermere School. Decked out in their school ties, they heartily sang the school song Up and On in honour of the multi-talented former student, who was also a deejay and trumpeter extraordinaire.
Earlier, hundreds – including members of the entertainment fraternity – packed the Sanctuary Empowerment Centre on Country Road, St Michael to pay their respects to Dappa, who was a former member of the Electrik band.
Among those sitting in the congregation were entertainers Donella Weekes, Adrian Clarke, Anthony Blood Armstrong, Betty Payne, spoken word artiste DJ Simmons, Tabitha Johnson and Mikey Mercer.
Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation Ronald Jones and Opposition politician Ryan Straughn were also among those paying their final respects.
In a musical tribute, calypsonian Colin Spencer sang Old Rugged Cross while trumpeter Samuel Millington performed You Raise Me Up.
Dappa’s childhood friend and musician Randy Eastmond led his colleagues in performing Amazing Grace and Just A Closer Walk With Thee.
A former student of the Hugh Wooding Law School, Taylor was described as immensely friendly, witty and talented with a kind-hearted spirit.
His best friend Sadie-ann Jones-Sisnett
spoke on behalf of the Taylor family, as she described Dappa as an eager debater with the gift of the gab.
“I think he was supposed to be a lawyer before he knew he would be a lawyer.
“He was persuasive and he would not stop trying to persuade you, until you at least conceded that maybe he had a point,” said Jones-Sisnett.
“He was too charming a personality. He was so skilled. It manifested itself in diverse interests, music, the arts on a whole, taekwondo and others,” she added.
Relaying the views of Taylor’s former Barbados Community College law lecturer Erskine Burke, she said, “He thoroughly enjoyed his pursuit of legal studies. He was especially interested in intellectual property rights as a means to provide solutions to the interests of his colleagues in the entertainment field.
“I am convinced his pursuit in legal studies was triggered in no small part by his desire to help others,” she added.
Speaking on the behalf of the 2000 graduating class at Combermere, actor Simon Alleyne and broadcaster Shane Sealy reminisced about their fun times with Taylor at interschool sports where he was “the man behind the music” keeping the energies up, or at Cadet camp when he was known to play pranks on the squadron.
“Taylor embodied what we call the Combermere spirit. He was a team player and was able to work with Combermerians above or even below his age group. He was truly a unifying force,” Alleyne said.
Officiating pastor Dr Marlon Husbands applauded Taylor’s mother and father, Juliet and Marson, for remaining strong throughout the period of grief which followed his tragic death on the busy ABC Highway mere days before the end of 2017 in a fatal crash.
“I am dumbfounded by the strength, the response, the peace and the gratitude of Marson, Juliet and [his sister] Simone,” said Husbands.
“The reason that this family has been able to cope the way they are coping is because they understand that God is the manufacturer and the architect of their family,” he added.
However, as Dappa’s casket was lowered into his grave, the mourners gathered at the Coral Ridge Memorial Gardens, were in tears as they said their final goodbyes to their brother, friend, confidante and counselor.