Barbados has lost one of its great patriots and I have lost a dear friend.
It was with a most profound sense of personal sadness that I learnt today of the passing of my dear friend and a true builder of Barbados, Harold Fitzherbert Hoyte at the age of 78.
While Harold had been ailing for some time and the nature and extent of his medical situation served as fair notice that his end might be near, that knowledge has not been nearly enough to blunt the impact of the news.
The country has lost a prized son who has contributed more than his fair share to the development of post-Independence Barbados.
It would be impossible to separate the name Harold Hoyte from the path of journalism in Barbados and the Caribbean over the past 60 years.
Equally, it would be impossible to separate him for the story of success of the enterprise known as the Nation Newspaper.
There is no Barbadian who would fail to recognise the critical role that the Nation Newspaper has played in contribution to the safeguarding of Barbados’ stability since Independence.
In fact, the Nation Newspaper, and by extension the Nation Publishing Company, with Harold Hoyte as its leader, represents one of the most potent symbols and examples of business success by Barbadians in our post Independence history.
Harold understood Barbados and Barbadians. We saw the evidence in his editorial judgments and his professional and indeed political commentary. It was clear to all that he never lost contact with the pulse of the people. That, throughout his career remained a defining feature of Harold Hoyte. He loved his country and was never afraid to speak truth to power in its fervent defence.
I can tell you that politicians on all sides of the political divide would think twice before they dared to ignore him because they knew that if they did so it was at their own peril — for he was an astute judge of Barbadians, particular on those matters he so fondly referred to as “bread and butter issues”.
In my eyes, Harold Hoyte was more than worthy to hold any and all offices in this land. He volunteered his time and intellect in ways too numerous to count, but for me one of his seminal contributions was his service on the Commission on Law and Order, established during my tenure as Attorney General.
At a very personal level, my friendship with Harold became even closer in the last 10 or so years where he was a pillar of strength for me and where I knew I could rely on both those virtues of which I just spoke, but also his utter discretion and wise counsel. I shall miss him as will many Barbadians for his political and editorial commentary. But above all, I shall miss him as a warm, generous and committed human being.
To his wife Noreen, his children Tracey and Bobby and the rest of Harold’s family I extend deepest sympathies and on behalf of a grateful nation and people I extend to them the offer of an official funeral as a small but initial token of appreciation for his immense contribution to this country.