ST JOHN RESIDENTS REFLECT ON HOW THE LATE PRIME MINISTER TOUCHED THEIR LIVES
It’s been six years since the people of St John reluctantly bade farewell to their beloved parliamentary representative, Former Prime Minister David Thompson.
Yesterday, on the anniversary of his untimely passing, residents said that though his body rests in the cemetery of the historic St John Parish Church, Thompson lived on in the hearts of those whom he served and befriended in the picturesque eastern parish.
“I miss Thompson aplenty, because he was a very nice man and a gentleman to me. The whole neighbourhood miss he,” said Tyrone AjaBarrow.
The elderly resident also insisted that things would have been better off for the rural parish if Thompson, who succumbed to pancreatic cancer at the age of 48, was still alive.
“All the plans and things that Thompson had planned for St John, the former and present government never come to St John and fulfill nothing. St John got some of the worst roads in Barbados. Everything went down the drain after Thompson.
“They ain’t spent a cent in St John in eight years,” Barrow lamented.
A man who called himself Jacks, echoed Barrow’s sentiments.
“Thompson was a good man, but the party he left behind ain’t no good. Thompson was a good man as far as I am concerned; not political wise but the natural man.”
Thompson’s 23-year love affair with St John began in 1987 when he won the by-election occasioned by the death of the parish’s long serving parliamentary representative, Prime Minister Errol Barrow.
To this day, residents say Thompson filled the shoes of his predecessor well and set a precedent hard to emulate.
“I have a lot of memories of David Thompson,” said Erskine Estwick. “He would visit my home. He was just down to earth all the time.”
For the youth of St John, Thompson’s life was cut short, too soon. Still, they shared that he had an impact on their lives and left a rich legacy for the parish.
“There could only be one David,” Thompson’s former barber, Alwyn Estwick said wistfully, noting that the late MP inspired him to be a good father.
Still proud that he was the barber of the country’s sixth Prime Minister, Alwyn told Barbados TODAY he always had a good time whenever he stopped by.
“Cutting David’s hair was a pleasure. It was a great thing for me. I was impressed by his stance on family, his Families First organization, how he used to care for his own family, his daughters, his wife, everyone. My son was born in 2008 and he was here for the christening. That is something that I remember like yesterday.”
Damien Mascoll, from the community of Wakefield, related that he was impressed when he met Thompson.
He described the former leader as an inspiration because “he often put Barbados first”.
“My favourite quote from him is that ‘Barbados is more than an economy; it is a society’. And therefore, when you are making decisions that impact the lives of people, you can’t only think about the numbers; you must also think about the social impact of those decisions. He will go down as a great Barbadian citizen,” Mascoll said.
Kirk Dottin, a former parish ambassador said he had fond memories of working with the late Prime Minister who loved young people.
“He is deeply missed and will continue to be deeply missed. I always respected him for his forward thinking. I have adopted that within my everyday life, in terms of striving for excellence,” he said.
Rashida Beckles of Haynes Hill added that St John was blessed to have Thompson as its MP for more than two decades, and she credits the parish’s strong community spirit to his influence.
“Banding together and doing things with community spirit, team spirit, is really very important; and those two words – Families First – are some of the important words that I do remember when it comes to Mr David Thompson.”