Sir Frederick Gladstone Smith has every right to have a secondary school in Barbados named in his honour, says the man himself.
He, along with Minister of Education Ronald Jones, and others gathered at the St. James Secondary School this morning for the official renaming of that school as the Frederick G Smith Secondary School.
“I am a Barbadian and a proud Barbadian… I served my country as a soldier and the very next day after I was demobilised went to teach at Harrison College… I then went to Codrington College.
“I have 14 letters behind my name: I am a Queen’s Council, Knight of St. Andrew, senior council of Guyana, I have a Doctorate in Public Administration…, I am also a Doctor of Laws from the University of the West Indies and I have got my Bachelors of Arts.
“So here is the man†you are honouring today, and when you consider Princess Margaret School you will have to compare who has made a contribution to the development of Barbados.
“I have heard a lot of people criticising what the minister has decided, [but] this is our country and we have got to honour and we have got to recognise people who have made contributions. Don’t mind the critics, they don’t criticise Princess Margaret, Combermere or Harrison College, but they will criticise the minister for doing the honourable thing…,” the very assertive Sir Frederick said.
Better known as Sleepy Smith to close friends, the 88 year-old was the second of 10 children. He was raised in St. George in a humble home but while things were hard for his family, he and other siblings were able to achieve many successes. Today he advised the students to take advantage of the opportunities given to them and make wise decisions.
“You are very fortunate in this part of the vineyard… If you as young students in this school work hard, the sky is the limit and there is nothing that you cannot achieve if you want to. My grandmother was a cook, my grandmother couldn’t read and write … and look at her grandson today being honoured by the minister and Government and people of Barbados by having a school named after him.
“I have told you where I come from, what I have achieved, it is for you, the pupils, to say ‘I am going to be like him … come from poor, make good myself, study hard, be something and contribute to my country’,” he said.
“This is the greatest honour I could ever achieve in my native land… Someday you too will be honoured for your contribution to your country. And I want all you here as youngsters not only to take advantage of the education you have but to try to be the best you can.
“God would never put you anywhere on this earth without giving you talent…† Difficulty often is to find what that talent is. Your parents have got their ideas — they want you to be doctor, lawyer, Indian chief, when you can be the best carpenter in the world…,† the best† mechanic, the best engineer.
“You don’t have to be a Barbados Scholar to get a profession anymore… You at St. James have good teachers, your teachers here might not be like the ones at Harrison College, but Harrison College is only a name, name after the founder Harrison. Combermere is named after a Governor. I think the talent is here… Common Entrance is not the only means of gauging your intelligence. In my days they didn’t have no Common Entrance Exam and we produced some bright boys,” he added. (KC)