Unsung heroes

One is a hundred years old. Another, an exceptional mother. Then there is the durable musician. Add to that four outstanding sports sisters and get a sample of the mix of St Michael South’s unsung heroes who were recently awarded.

 From left: Julia Deane; Sonia Banfield; Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment, Urban and Rural Development Steve Blackett; Sonja Banfield; and Harriett Banfield.
From left: Julia Deane; Sonia Banfield; Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment, Urban and Rural Development Steve Blackett; Sonja Banfield; and Harriett Banfield.

“A compelling sense of appropriateness and gratitude dictates that I thank all of you being recognized . . . for being the outstanding citizens you have been at various stages of our journey over the last 50 years,” the constituency’s Member of Parliament, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart told the gathering at Almond Bay, Hastings.

Thirty-four persons, including Barbados’ only living National Hero Sir Garfield Sobers, were honoured recently when the St Michael South Constituency Council held its inaugural community awards ceremony.

“There are far too many people in Barbados who daily, by their living, by their working, and by their interacting, do considerable credit to their nation,” Stuart told the audience. “Without these types of persons, our communities would be much weaker, our young people would have fewer role models, and Barbados as a nation would be much poorer.”

The Beckles Road crooner Mark Lorde hardly needed the introduction when he was announced as the recipient of an award of recognition for sterling contribution to entertainment.

Lorde began his singing career at Bay Street Boys’ School, excelled as a songwriter and arranger, and took his renditions to Pic-de-Crop, before going on to soul, reggae and calypso in the hotel circuit where he has been singing for more than 50 years.

Clementina Wharton earned recognition for community development after she moved from St John and settled in Britton’s Hill 58 years ago, when she married the late William Wharton. She had 13 children who became the base of her community involvement.

The Whartons kept a small farm, raising animals and growing vegetables, and provided for families in need before anything was sold.

Her membership in the London Road Apostolic Church has spanned 40 years.

The years are nothing more than numbers for centenarian Francis Medford Clarke, also known as ‘Meddy’ or ‘Redman’, who celebrated his 100th birthday this year. He moved from Foul Bay, St Philip to live “in town” a long time ago, and eventually built his home at Palm Tree Place, Bayville.

A father of nine, grandfather of 14, great grandfather of 14 and great-great grandfather of one, Clarke lived the way his parents raised him: “Appreciate the land and . . . make a living from the sea.”

He is regarded as a kind and giving person who was known to ensure that his neighbours received some of his catch. This earned him recognition for sterling contribution to the fishing Industry and community service.

The Banfield sisters created history by being the only four siblings to have represented their nation in a sporting activity at the same time.

Sonja, Sonia, Harriett and Julia started their netball careers at the Bay Pasture. As juniors, Sonia and Harriett played for the Val Rosa Club’s Lassie Oats team. They then joined their sisters at Banks Spurs Netball Club, at the Bayville courts.

Sonja started playing for Barbados in 1975. Sonia went on to excel and joined the national team as goal shooter in 1978. Harriett joined the team in 1986 and Julia, in 1989.

The four Banfield sisters represented Barbados at tournaments in Jamaica in 1990 and Antigua in 1992. Sonja, Sonia and Harriett represented Barbados in world tournaments between 1989 and 1992.

They were recognized for their sterling contributions to the development of netball.

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