“… Let me hasten to add that in another email, the High Commissioner said that he treats all children as though they were his own. I also discovered other Barbadians that he has helped in other ways during his tenure. Everyone I speak to about him sings his praise. He has gone beyond the call of duty and has proven himself to be an outstanding High Commissioner representing Barbados with excellence.” – Donna Every, author of the column The Buck Stops Here, published in Barbados Today, June 8, 2018
The extract above penned by Barbados Today columnist Donna Every came after she interacted with the then High Commissioner to the UK Guy Hewitt. Her daughter, who was studying in London at the time, along with friends were staging an art exhibition and wanted the event promoted to the broader Barbadian diaspora so Ms Every reached out to the Commissioner for help.
So touched by the encounter, Donna went on to say that she wished the diplomatic posts were not political but that the “best” person was the one who got the job.
The columnist’s story is just one of many that can be told of the envoy’s personable and caring approach. During a recent exit interview with Public Relations Officer of the National Council of Barbados Associations in the UK Tyrone Roach, Hewitt spoke candidly about some of the major issues which arose during his tenure and some which were dear to his heart. He singled out that of Jeshua Ferdinand.
The young Bajan cricketer fell critically ill in 2017 while on tour in London. The 25-year-old fast bowler travelled to the UK in April to play cricket in East Sussex. He played only two games for Mayfield before he suddenly became ill and was diagnosed and hospitalized with Guillain-Barre syndrome. This rare autoimmune disorder is characterized by rapid-onset muscle weakness caused by the immune system damaging the body’s nervous system.
Unfortunately, at the time, there was no reciprocal healthcare agreement between the UK and Barbados since the UK had terminated it in 2016. Ferdinand’s bill was around $50,000 pounds.
However, Hewitt jumped swiftly into action and saw the situation through to the end.
“I mobilized the diaspora here and in Barbados to try to get him the support to get back to Barbados… I had to ensure that when he got back to Barbados, he got the type of health care he needed. Luckily, because I was a former chairman on the board at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and I don’t believe in taking no for an answer, I pushed and pushed to get some resources to meet the cost of his travel.”
One of his more recent acts of kindness was helping out a Barbadian couple who found themselves in a precarious situation while vacationing in Europe. The couple was stranded in Barcelona after being robbed while at lunch.
“About six weeks ago I got a call. There was a young Barbadian couple on their honeymoon in Barcelona. It was a Sunday afternoon. They were having lunch, and they got robbed and lost all of their travel documents. It was catastrophic. They couldn’t join the ship, they couldn’t move. They were being advised that the honeymoon would come to an end,” he explained.
Hewitt continued: “I reached out the British High Commissioner in Barbados and I thank her for her assistance. I reached out to the British Consul General in Barcelona [and] I thank him for his assistance. Between the mission here, our colleagues in Brussels and the Barbados embassy in Belgium, we able to get the couple emergency travel documents in less than 24 hours. They re-joined the cruise. They had a fabulous honeymoon. They came and saw me and thanked me. I told them they were a reflection of what I feel the mission is.
“We are here for everyday Barbadians… whether it be Jeshua Ferdinand, this couple or others who have been in distress. That has been the most satisfying thing for me – being able to reassure them and their parents in Barbados that I am here, the mission is here and they are not on their own.”
The Anglican priest said being of service to the people was of vital importance to him and that his greatest reward was “the ability to be there for anyone that mattered.” (PR)