Tears flow at slain teacher's funeral
The same day Dwight Holder was gunned down at Bedford Lane, Bush Hall, St Michael where he was visiting relatives, he had installed a baby seat in his car for his unborn daughter, Amber Deandra Holder, who is due on September 7.
New to fatherhood, the 29-year-old primary school teacher telephoned his best friend Tamesha before carrying out the installation, to ask if the seat should face forward or backward as he obviously looked forward to driving his pride and joy around Barbados.
Delivering the eulogy at Holder’s funeral service inside a packed St Thomas Parish Church today, political analyst Peter Wickham said Holder would have been happy to know that his girlfriend Leandra Franklyn was giving birth to a baby girl, since he never considered any boy’s names.
Wickham said the sight of the baby seat inside the vehicle at the crime scene was to family and friends a most tragic sight, which also reminded them of a father’s “love and pride which is a memory that will endure and can help us to process this tragedy.”
The pain and grief of losing a young man hailed as a role model, was evident at the graveside in the same churchyard, as mourners, young and old, gently wiped tears away. The screams of a few close relatives could be heard in the distance.
The deceased’s mother, Carolyn, had to be comforted as she and Holder’s father, McNeil Springer, said their last goodbyes to their only son who never lacked attention from birth.
The tributes were many, with not a bad word said about the former “Combermerian” whose old scholars were well represented with a large turnout.
Wickham remarked that those whom Holder was related to or taught had no choice but to consider themselves fortunate to have had him within their family circle or as their teacher, since he would have greatly enriched their lives.
“Among Dwight’s favourite people was his grandmother with whom he shared a birthday, and she was, in turn, proud of the fact that Dwight was the first grandchild to go to university,” Wickham told the congregation of mourners.
“She sold snacks which Dwight liked, and while she would always insist that he not pay for his snacks, he would always insist that he did pay and this disagreement usually ended up in Dwight leaving the money in the tot. He therefore mourned the passing of his grandmother and was the last person to help her to the bathroom the night before she passed away on March 13, 2014,” Wickham revealed.
After leaving Combermere, Holder entered the University of the West Indies to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in management. He did so with some distinction, and while at Cave Hill never missed an opportunity to pursue business prospects. One was working as a part-time interviewer with Wickham’s polling organization, CADRES.
Between 2009 and 2012, Holder was employed as an insurance clerk at Consumers’ Guarantee Insurance (CGI). While he worked assiduously on behalf of his employers, it was always his dream to be a teacher. He fulfilled this dream in 2012 when he was appointed to the post of primary school teacher at the Half Moon Fort Primary School in St. Lucy.
Principal Veronica Best grew quite fond of the intelligent and dedicated young teacher who was seen as a blessing and a breath of fresh air to the service.
She was unable to attend the funeral of her “number one guy” who, on her advice, decided to pursue his teaching certification in the form of a Diploma in Education. He recently graduated with a Distinction in Teaching Practice.
Reading a tribute on behalf of Best, Senior Teacher Marvine Harewood said Holder’s profound and indelible contribution to the St Lucy institution would be missed as much as his presence.
“Mr Holder displayed qualities in a way which suggested that he was born to be a teacher. He was a firm disciplinarian and was able to command the attention of his students.
“Any scolding was a gentle reprimand followed by a dialogue to make one understand the infraction and the consequences. Mr Holder was a dutiful and compliant staff member. He never shied from his duties and would volunteer to ensure tasks were completed,” she said.
Delivering the sermon, Reverend Jerome Small, priest-in-charge of St Philip-the-Less Anglican Church, said while some people might be angered that Holder was snatched from this world at a young age, the focus should not be about how long he lived, but rather the quality of life he lived.
“It is about how we live the life God has blessed us with. It is about building relationships and displaying to others the love of God dwells within us. It is about allowing the spirit of God to guide us,” the former curate at the St Thomas Parish Church said.
“The legacy of this young man allows us to acknowledge that no matter our age, we are called to value the experiences and the relationships of life. We are called daily to make sure we treat others with love, respect and to appreciate the blessings that we are given,” Fr Small said.
When gunmen turned up and opened fire, Holder, who was said to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, fled in a desperate attempt to save his life. He ran through a nearby track seeking safety, only to encounter more gunmen who pumped multiple bullets into his body, leaving him lying lifeless next to a galvanized paling.
Two other men, John Weekes and Nicholas Weekes, 27, a cousin of Holder, were also shot in the incident and had to be rushed to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) for treatment. Six men have been charged with his murder.
As the sun was setting, after the wreaths were laid on Holder’s covered grave, blue and gold balloons released into the air, gently drifted in a northerly direction.