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    December 13

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Black History Month: Arlington Dacosta "Joy" Edwards

SHERRYLYN CLARKE, sherrylynclarke@nationnews.com

Added 27 February 2014

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Researched by SANDRA SEALEY ​“A politician, educator, humanitarian, entrepreneur and true community man.” That’s how Minister of Education Ronald Jones described Arlington Dacosta Edwards. ​The occasion was the renaming in June 2011 of St Andrew’s Primary School, in Belleplaine as A. Dacosta Edwards Primary School. It was renamed in honour of the late educator and politician, familiarly known as “Joy” Edwards who, from 1961 to 1973, represented St Andrew in Parliament. Born in 1933, Edwards first ran for Parliament in 1961 on a Democratic Labour Party (DLP) ticket and at age 28, became the youngest minister to enter Parliament as representative for St Andrew. He was assigned Minister of Health and Social Services. His 12-year ministerial career saw him handling every portfolio then, except finance and foreign affairs. He also had responsibility for sports, community development, labour, tourism and national insurance. Edwards resigned from Cabinet in 1973 to go into dairy farming. A teacher by profession, he taught at the Arlington High School, was deputy headteacher of Modern High School, was founder and principal of St Anthony’s School and the now defunct Federal High School. At the renaming ceremony Jones said: “‘The poor barefoot boy from Dark Hole’ as Edwards regarded himself, had assisted many despite the pressures of his own circumstances, that included finishing school at age 14.” Edwards’ contribution to education through founding of the Federal High School was significant of his strong character and caring nature. With the opening of Federal High School he provided free education for 255 students out of his 1 700 roll. His provision of scholarships afforded many children an education which they would have otherwise been deprived of due to financial constraints. Daughter Kristen said of him: “It was his greatest desire for as many persons as possible to have access to a quality education with which they could better themselves and by extension Barbados.” At the time of his passing, Edwards was described by the late Sir Branford Taitt as “a man who blazed a trail in parliamentary activity which is unlikely to be bettered in the near future”. He said Edwards first entered the House of Assembly in 1961 as the youngest ever Member of Parliament and minister. Sir Branford said no one who knew him could fail to be impressed with the ease and simplicity with which Edwards expressed himself. “If he had only one virtue it was that he cared about ordinary people as much as he cared about himself,” he added. Fellow DLP parliamentarian, the late Sir Richard Haynes, also attested to Edwards’ generous nature, calling him a remarkable man who was loyal to his friends even in his darkest days. He noted that at times there was even an over generosity on his part. He also described him as a great family man. Apart from his work in education, Edwards did much on many levels. As Minister of Housing, he saw to the provision of affordable housing for St Andrew residents and many others across the island. On the community level the lover of music founded and directed the St Andrew Glee Club, a choir which performed at functions across the island. Edwards died on July 27, 1996 at the age of 63. ​  

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