Glowing tribute to retiring BDF chaplain

Murrell called ‘true soldier of Christ’

It was a banquet fit for a priest, as the Barbados Defence Force (BDF) paid tribute to its retiring chaplain. Canon DeVere Murrell will on December 31 step down as senior chaplain after 21 years of ministering to the country’s military.

Canon DeVere Murrell, retiring chaplain of the Barbados Defence Force.
Canon DeVere Murrell, retiring chaplain of the Barbados Defence Force.

Top officials from the BDF, the Barbados Coast Guard, the Barbados Regiment and Barbados Cadet Corps paid homage to Murrell, who was described as one who had worked his way into their hearts.

“Your friendship, compassion, your helpfulness and guidance have contributed inevitably to this story called the Barbados Defence Force. You were a true friend, colleague and father figure. In short you worked your way into our hearts and it’s there that your immovable impression will stay,” commanding officer of the Barbados Coast Guard, Commander Aquinas Clarke said.

Chief of Staff of the BDF, Colonel Alvin Quintyne, labelled Murrell a “true soldier of Christ”.

From left, Colonel Alvin Quintyne, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and Canon DeVere Murrell. 
From left, Colonel Alvin Quintyne, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and Canon DeVere Murrell.

“Sir, your name and your service shall forever be indelibly etched like that of Brigadier Lewis in the historic records of the Barbados Defence Force,” Quintyne declared.

Commanding officer of the Barbados Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Glyne Grannum, said: “We shall always recall your ability to display a caring, understanding and insightful touch to the daily toils and the daily joys, and at times sufferings, of the members of the Barbados Regiment.”

Military officials also presented the Anglican priest with a number of gifts, including a framed photograph of St Ann’s Fort and conferred on him a Defence Board Commendation.

Also attending the farewell luncheon was Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, who issued the chaplain with a challenge to revive the television programme Time To Sing.

“That programme had such a large following in Barbados, and was so valuable a programme, that it would not be a waste of your time, Canon Murrell, if you sought to revive it  . . . . When you hosted it, you hosted it very, very well; and it is something you may want to think about,” Stuart explained.

The guest of honour, touched by the outpouring of love and camaraderie, described his tenure as a fulfilling one.

“As I take my leave, permit me to thank you for having accepted me as a member of your close-knit family. Together we have experienced much –– the agony that was Arch Cot and the prison riots, as well as the accomplishment of the spanking new Coast Guard facility, to name but a few   of the many.”

Murrell, who was ordained in 1977, and served at the Christ Church Parish church, Holy Trinity, St Bartholomew’s and St Matthias, plans to use the next two months to transition into retirement mode; “get comfortable with the idea of not having to go out to work, to depend on telephone bells or church bells. Then after the first two months I will allow    the chips to fall where they may and see what happens”.

He had this parting shot for officers under his ministry.

“Chief of Staff, I have hanging in my cupboard at home some kit which I will return soon  . . . . No, I do not have a weapon to lodge in the armoury; I have never needed to have one, for the simple reason that you do not have in your armoury anything that is bigger than a canon.”

Reverend Hugh Sandiford is tipped to take over as senior chaplain of the Barbados Defence Force on February 1. 

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