FRIENDS THREE: From left, Jewel Bushell-Belmar, Harold Hoyte and Roxanne Brancker. (GP)
MY HEARTBREAK GOES BACK to Old Year’s Day 2017.
The day that Harold was stricken with an aneurysm while on holiday in Florida.
It was exactly two weeks after another good friend of ours and former NATION staffer, Jewel Bushell-Belmar, had passed away.
So this news about Harold was unnerving, unsettling and very upsetting, to say the least.
As the months progressed, however, I began to feel increasingly confident that we would see a miracle.
He would recover, I told myself.
Especially since I had a friend in Washington who had suffered something similar, survived and was back at work.
After he returned to Barbados, he seemed (at least to me) to be improving each time I saw him, and I continued to live in hope.
Yesterday’s news of his passing was devastating. And as much as we had been warned, it was unbearable.
I met Harold Hoyte in 1978 when I interviewed for a job at the NATION.
Little did I know that I was meeting the man who would become, in addition to my boss, my mentor, confidante and friend for the next 40 years.
He was at the time Editor-In-Chief of the NATION – dynamic, creative, full of energy, with a hearty, boisterous laugh, and a contagious spirit of excitement that would envelop any project we worked on together. From the simplest story to the most dramatic; from the Fun Walk to the Healthy Lifestyle Extravaganza, both extra-curricular activities sponsored by the NATION.
It was always such a joy to work with him, whether we were arguing, debating or “plotting” our next move to get a news source to talk.
I learnt at the feet of the master!
It was Harold who taught me secrets of the trade – how to “inadvertently” eavesdrop on other people’s conversations without raising suspicion; or how to appear to have interest elsewhere while keeping one’s ears pricked for a possible “scoop”.
It was he who taught me the tricks of the trade in creating an interesting newspaper, and how to make a story appealing and keep the paper balanced.
But Harold was always happiest when he was writing, especially political commentary and about politicians, followed closely by cricket, culture or simply a “slice of Bajan life”.
He was excited about life. One got another look at him through his second novel: Wunna Like Dah Nuh.
He could make you giggle or laugh out loud with his sense of humour and his fresh, crisp, light-hearted writing style.
His originality kept you hooked on whatever he wrote – be it his piece on A Deputy Essential or This Little Thing Of Mine, or his more serious articles on Barbados’ Prime Ministers, memorable elections or the no-confidence motion in 1994.
And while over the next few days tributes will flow about his journalistic abilities and qualities, all of which I will endorse, I shall remember Harold for his generosity. He helped so many staffers, not only professionally, but personally. I shall remember his quirky, even naughty sense of humour, his bravery, loyalty to friends, his raucous laugh and the manner in which he inspired us all to be our best in all aspects of our lives.
Few people ever saw him angry. He was a people person, respecting the views of every member of his staff and enjoying the teamwork that brought out the best in everyone.
His imagination, sacrifice and vision gave birth to the newspaper in November 1973, and his hard work, creativity, determination and dynamic leadership led the NATION to be the regional media giant it is today.