The St Mark’s Anglican Church was brimming with mourners this afternoon as hundreds came to commemorate the life and times of 63-year-old Angela Marcia Watson.
The former president of the Barbados National Union of Fisherfolk Organizations (BARNUFO) died on April 1. The fishing community came out in their numbers to pay their respects to Watson, who played an instrumental role in the island’s fishing industry during her tenure as president from 1999 to 2006.
The mourners included politicians from both major political parties, with Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley, Barbados Labour Party leader Mia Mottley, as well as Kerryann Ifill, who served as Senate President in the last legislative cycle, retired parliamentarian Mara Thompson and General Secretary of the Democratic Labour Party George Pilgrim, all attending the two-hour funeral.
In addition to her executive roles in BARNUFO, board member of the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation and founding member of the College Savannah Community Group, Watson was remembered for her devotion to family, her selflessness and generosity.
As Watson’s cousin, spouge singer, Tony Grazette, sang You’ll Never Walk Alone at the beginning of the service, the sobs of relatives echoed through the tiny College Savannah, St John church.
During his tribute, Watson’s nephew, Kamil Watson, described his aunt as “loving, caring, kind and passionate”, and “was everything for everybody”.
Meanwhile, her cousin, John Goddard, described the member of the St John Constituency Council as a “labourer of love and service”. Referring to Watson as a natural born leader, Goddard revealed that from an early age Watson learnt about “sacrificial love”. One of four children, she valued family and also sought to provide assistance to the less fortunate.
“It was not surprising that as an adult she reached out to others in need without thought or reward,” Goddard said.
‘Our sister associated herself with any group or activity which offered hope to the lives of people, especially to those of her beloved St John,” he added.
Watson was a strong advocate for Barbadian fishermen caught in Trinidadian waters during the 1999 maritime border dispute.
Goddard disclosed that as BARNUFO president, Watson sought to ensure that the fishing community was represented and respected.
“She laboured to win respect for fisherfolk whom she felt had made an invaluable contribution to our society without ever being given the credit they deserved,” Goddard said.
“One of her burning desires was to see fisherfolk secure their future by contributing to the national insurance scheme. She also wanted boat owners to insure not only their boats but their cruises as well,” he continued.
Speaking of his cousin’s humour, honesty, sincerity and love for people, Goddard stressed that the devoted member of St Mark’s Anglican Church lived her life as God commanded – loving her neighbour and, by extension, herself.
“Many people force themselves on the public stage in the search of accolades. Angela Watson did what she did because she had felt that God had called her to serve and she could make the difference in the lives of ordinary folk. Honours and awards did not motivate her. All she ever wanted to do was to follow Christ’s commandments and honour her brothers and sisters, as she loved herself. Her contribution to public life was a natural extension of her commitment to serve God,” he said.
Reverend Dr Marcus Lashley, who worked closely with Watson while she was a secretary for the provincial council, called the former Sunday school teacher “a soldier of God”.
Deeply shaken by her death, Lashley remembered Watson’s friendliness and her preoccupation with assisting the youth
of St John.
“I remember her as someone who gave her all to the youth of this parish. She loved the young people whether it was teaching or hanging out with them,” the Anglican cleric said.
“Her loss is profound but we thank God she understood what it meant to live out her baptismal covenant. She remained a faithful soldier and servant to her last breath,” he added.