Anti-drug crusader, Pastor Victor Roach, who campaigned relentlessly for the introduction of breathalyzer testing did not live to see his efforts become the law of the land, friends said today at his funeral.
The former president of the National Committee for the Prevention of Alcohol and Drug Dependency (NCPADD), was remembered at a thanksgiving service at St Philip-The-Less Anglican Church, this afternoon as a jovial and committed man whose work in Barbados and around the world was irreplaceable.
The 64-year-old pastor died on July 19 at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. He had been ill since 2015.
Pastor Everette Howell, who delivered the sermon, told the packed Boscobelle, St Peter church that those who admired Roach’s work, should honour him through making contributions to complete projects he started.
“To honour him, is to make sure that those things that he didn’t get to compete will be completed, like the breathalyzer testing that he talked about for many years, but folks seem to be afraid of going there.
“Alcohol and drugs and other stuff that is coming in now, those of us who are still around and still alive, we can fill the breach so that his passing will not be in vain,” he said.
In 2007, Roach spearheaded a petition for the introduction of breath testing with 40,000 signatures under The Coalition For the Adoption of Breathalyser. He said he believed breathalyzer testing should have been included in the 2006 amendment to the Road Traffic Act.
But nine months after Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport Mark Cummins promised that the testing apparatus would be functional in a matter of weeks, no visible progress has yet been made.
In March, Minister of Transport and Works, Dr William Duguid, at a national consultation on land transport said: “the last requirement is the implementation”.
He told Barbados TODAY regarding the promised breathalyzers: “There are some security measures that have to be put in place that are not in place yet.”
Sources confirmed to this newspaper five months ago that Government was at an “advanced stage” with the implementation of the testing and that the machines had arrived on the island and were with the ministry.
Drug Education Officer with the National Council on Substance Abuse, Brian “Bumba” Payne, said Pastor Roach was one of the early stakeholders involved in NCSA’s drug prevention fight.
Payne also commented that Roach’s push for the introduction of breathylyzer testing was yet to be activated.
He said: “Victor Roach was the heart, soul and mind of NCPADD. This gave him tremendous leverage to speak out against the ravages of alcoholism and the self-destruction of illegal drugs.
“He took every opportunity to agitate, educate and enlighten.
“Victor was the founder of the idea of a Drug Awareness Month in Barbados.
“His sobering and articulate voice will be missed as we wrestle with new manifestations of the drug phenomenon locally, regionally and internationally.
“His campaign for a healthy, drug-free Barbados will never be forgotten. He also used the church as a vehicle to disseminate messages to the public,” he said.
Pastor Roach was a member of a number of boards and committees. He was the founder of the Barbados Drug Hotline, member of the Royal Barbados Police Force Crime Prevention Panel, and introduced the US-based Drug Awareness Resistance Education (DARE) programme to Barbados.
He also initiated the lobby for A Smoke-Free Cricket World Cup 2007 and was a member of the International Association of Drug Treatment Courts Board.
A district pastor and evangelist of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, he was also a Drug Education Officer with the Ministry of Education and chaplain of the Barbados Defence Force.
Former Chairman of the Men’s Educational Support Association (MESA), Ralph Boyce, and representatives of several non-governmental organisations attended the service.
Family member, Mary Moore-Hinds, spoke of his affectionate, soft, jovial side, and infectious smile, as she reflected on his great sense of humour. She said she was not surprised that the Combermere alumnus’s intelligence led him to become the spokesman for the family.
Moore-Hinds said: “He was never too busy when you called him that he could not answer. He was always smiling. That is Victor. Victor, you will be gone, but we would hold you close in our thoughts and our hearts.”
Musical selections and tributes also came from the Egvinalle Nursing Home and the University of the Southern Caribbean Alumni of which Roach was a member.