One of the early, more remarkable features of Caribbean integration at work during the era of the nascent West Indies Federation, and well before the Caribbean Community’s creation, has been the University of the West Indies, training not only young minds but inadvertently forming fledgeling West Indian families.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, when the Federal Palm and Federal Maple sailed north and south in our Caribbean, they brought Barbadians to train in medicine, law and other degrees at Mona, UWI’s original campus that was established in 1948.
Doctors interned and served at the University Hospital of the West Indies, the region’s first teaching hospital, years before a Faculty of Medicine could be established here. It was UHWI that a star surgeon, the British-trained Errol “Mickey” Walrond, would join. There he would meet and take a Jamaican wife, as not a few Barbadians at Mona had themselves done.
So It is no accident that Barbadian faculty members and graduates of Mona would bring home with them not only diplomas and deployments but Jamaican spouses, many of them have gone on to be some of our best Bajans.
Their own contributions, whether in law or medicine or motherhood, helped to make our nation just as great as did the native Barbadians themselves.
Such a gift to us from the Land of Wood and Water, supremely capable in intellect, generous of spirit, abundant in passion and driven to make this island home a better place than the one she found was Beverley, Lady Walrond QC.
Among the many great losses in the singular death, this week of a mother and mentor is the tragedy of her unfinished work which must now be completed in her absence.
As an attorney-at-law, Lady Walrond blazed an entirely novel path. Hers was not the stuff of land conveyance, corporate manoeuvre, public policy or indeed criminal case.
She instead focussed with laser-like intensity on the one inviolable unit of our society under the law – the family. We mourn the void created by the passing of the key architect of the much-needed, long-awaited Family Court.
That this country has taken so long to create a dedicated judicial space to children and the family – beyond the Family Division of the High Court whose business is predominately about the dissolution of marriage and division of property – is no criticism of her sterling efforts.
That we will have a family court at all will be because of Beverley, Lady Walrond QC.
Her path to pioneering the practice of family law here was paved with her being called to the Bar in Barbados in April 1974.
She then joined the Attorney-General’s Chambers as acting Crown Counsel, rising to Senior Crown Counsel. In 1978 she entered private practice as a partner in the law firm of Smith & Smith, ‘taking silk’ as QC in 1995 after a 21-year career.
Ever the innovator, Lady Walrond became not merely a qualified mediator but an advocate for alternative dispute resolution (ADR). She has been a trusted member of the Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission and she acted as a Justice of the High Court on two occasions even as she specialised in family and child law.
We hope, nay, insist that an appropriate memorial, more lasting than bronze be instituted – not merely by adorning a building with her name but by ensuring that future generations of Barbadian lawyers be so minded as to take up a life in the law according to the family and children with a fervour nor less ardent than they would other civil or indeed criminal divisions, and with passion, commitment and joy no less than had Beverley Joy, Lady Walrond QC.
We do not merely mourn an achievement by the absence of its creator. We are also deeply saddened by the loss of an extraordinary member of humanity, generous with her time, copious in acts and thoughts of compassion, and passionate for justice.
We in the media shall miss her humility, accessibility, and desire to explain ideas and share knowledge not just as an advocate but as teacher to help us understand the laws that govern us so that we might follow them carefully and alter them justly.
We extend our deepest sympathies to Sir Errol and children Maurice and Maya.
Requiescat In pace. And thank you.