As the number of Barbadians seeking further education at UWI continues to drop, that educational institution is using its 70th anniversary to stem the tide by hosting a major fund-raising event that will give ambitious but financially challenged students a greater opportunity to pursue their studies.
On Saturday, April 28, National Heroes Day, the Cave Hill Campus will stage its Luminaries Gala – Dining with the Stars, a “red carpet, blue ribbon, black tie” affair featuring prominent entertainers and other celebrities from the Caribbean.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of the event, Principal of UWI Cave Hill Campus Professor Eudine Barriteau said the high profile cocktail reception, show and dinner will be similar to events UWI associates stage every year in Toronto and New York. “It will be held under the distinguished patronage of our Governor General Dame Sandra Mason, a former UWI graduate who has done her country proud. We have also got support from the Sir Elliott and Lady Belgrave Scholarship Trust, national, regional and international stars, and several prominent citizens will be special guests.”
The $500 a head event has been described as a significant step in securing the island’s future stability by ensuring everyone has greater access to education at the highest level. “When you invest in education, you are strengthening the socio-economic fabric of the region, you are investing in social cohesion and well being. The higher and better-educated citizens of a country are, it is less likely that they will get involved in criminal activity,” the Principal stated.
Two of the entertainers scheduled to perform at the gala shared their thoughts. Cultural Ambassador, Anthony The Mighty Gabby Carter, said “I do not know any family whom UWI has not affected positively over the years. It hurts my heart when I see thousands of students wanting to come in but cannot afford the fees, and I am willing to do anything to see that rectified.”
Anderson Mr Blood Armstrong added, “Education is extremely important and I think this is a great initiative where we as people from across the Caribbean can get together and support a most worthy cause.”
Prominent attorney at law Andrew Pilgrim Queens Counsel, recalled, “I only paid $60 for the three years I was at Cave Hill, and it is embarrassing when I see young people, some of whom are brighter than I am, with all these great programmes ahead of them, now can’t do them because they can’t afford it.” He also pledged to establish scholarships in the name of his father-in-law Professor Nicholas Liverpool, and his father Charlie Pilgrim.
Meanwhile, Head of the 70th Anniversary Celebrations Committee, Henderson Carter, encouraged staff members and UWI alumni to “reach out to your contacts on WhatsApp; send them the poster and let them know if they cannot buy tickets, they can still make a donation to the Students Scholarship Fund.”
He added that so far the anniversary celebrations had been going very well, and immediately following the gala, on May 1, there will be a Heritage Bus Tour taking in significant landmarks including the screw-type Dry Dock in Bridgetown, “the only surviving one of its kind in the world,” the slave burial ground at Newton Plantation in Christ Church, Bayley’s Plantation where the “Bussa Rebellion” started in 1816 and the Foursquare Rum Distillery both in St Philip.