The Barbados diaspora in the UK has been there for more than 60 years. During this time there have been many successes which have gone either unnoticed or unrecorded in Barbados and the Barbadian communities across the UK. We should be proud of the things achieved in our name and by our fellow countrymen.
Barbados TODAY recently unearthed a golden nugget in the far-flung and rural environs of Brighton, West Sussex where resides James Brathwaite who was born in St Lucy to the late Louise Brathwaite in 1953. An early example of the rewards of hard work and ambition was perhaps shown by his mother who was the first black midwife in the Liverpool area many moons ago.
Brathwaite’s curriculum vitae reads as impressively as one could expect. After leaving Sheffield University where he graduated with a degree in Physiology and Zoology, Brathwaite spent eight years in the pharmaceutical industry with British company Beechams and its German rival Bayer. He had moved to Bayer from the apparent coziness of the British company because in his ambition to be an international operator in Lebanon he was rejected and advised that ‘he had to get his knees brown first’ and furthermore his bosses felt that the Arabs were not yet ready for a black face.
This rejection was swiftly followed by one from the USA. Brathwaite was head-hunted to lead a major international company during President Reagan’s reign and in shades of the current mantra of President Trump’s dictum of ‘America First’, Brathwaite was refused a work visa.
Undaunted by these reversals which, in hindsight, should be seen as blessings in disguise, Brathwaite started out on his own. He produced video films in medicine for doctors and then developed programmes in computer training.
The success of these ventures was astronomic and Brathwaite’s company was listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1999 when he became the first black Chief Executive Officer of a Public Listed Company in the UK. During this period, his company won the Small Business Award on the Junior Stock Exchange. His company became the largest producer of its type in Europe.
James Brathwaite was now fast becoming a name of note in the city and was asked to set up the Small Business Advisory Trust with the former Deputy Prime Minister, Michael Heseltine. Year 2000 could be seen as a year of high merit and recognition and Brathwaite was awarded the Insignia of Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen’s Honours List. His citation mainly read: ‘For services to Business in Sussex.’
The award of this accolade was quickly followed with further recognition from high places and in 2001 Tony Blair, then Prime Minister of the UK, appointed Brathwaite to be Chairman of the highly influential South East England Development Agency with an annual investment budget of £500,000. He remained in that post for 9 years and was the Agency’s longest serving Chairman.
Since then, Brathwaite has continued in a quest for further successes and is involved in a project which will bring energy to power stations across the UK. It is a multi-million-pound operation and all indications are pointing to another success in the career of this humble and highly generous Barbadian.
The St Lucy born entrepreneur is passionate about Barbados and cares greatly about the country’s progress and the well-being of its people.
He has expressed a desire to introduce geothermal and waste to energy projects to the island and he yearns for discussions with the appropriate bodies.
Brathwaite is married to Barbara and has three daughters Camilla, Charlotte and Cressida and one son Jamie.
Jim, as he likes to be called, is a Bajan to the core and lists his recognition in the country’s 50th Anniversary of Independence as an Awardee as a moment of deep pride, whilst not ignoring his insignia as CBE.
James Brathwaite was born a child of the Empire and is now a Commander of the Empire (CBE).
Mr Vincent “Boo” Nurse is a Barbadian living in London who is a retired land Revenue Manager, Pensions and Investment Adviser. He is passionate about the development of his island home and Disapora.