Doncia Cumberbatch (left) and Donniko Griffith are ready and raring for the stage at the Spirit of the Nation Show on November 21. (Picture by Reco Moore)
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ST LUCY is the only parish in Barbados which has 35 bays across its shoreline, and its church has been in existence for 386 years, which makes it as old as the capital city of Bridgetown.
Eighteen-year-old Doncia Cumberbatch, of Rock Hall, and 23-year-old Donniko Griffith, of Pie Corner, both in St Lucy, are this year’s parish ambassadors, who fondly refer to themselves as “The Double Ds”.
Cumberbatch, an aesthetics student of the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic, was inspired by her cousin to become a parish ambassador.
“My cousin was in the Parish Ambassadors programme last year. I told myself that I could take a risk and as I like trying new things, I filled out the form, was interviewed by the panel and was chosen,” she said.
As for Griffith, a waiter at Club Barbados Resort and Spa in Vauxhall, St James, he said: “I first learnt about the programme in primary school when that year’s ambassadors came and did a play. From then I have always wanted to become a parish ambassador.
“My cousin was also an ambassador a few years ago and that gave me the push I needed to fill out the form this year.”
Of the experience to date, Griffith said: “So far it has been good. Yes, it is hard work, but I am enjoying it.”
Cumberbatch added: “Hard work and dedication; it calls for a lot of time management but I would encourage anyone to join as it is definitely a learning programme.”
Their parish project, under the umbrella theme Community-Based Tourism, is entitled St Lucy: Destination 439 – Experience It! – similar to that of a 246 flight to Barbados, they said in unison with pride in their voices.
So far they have done educational sessions, culture, craft and cuisine festivals. They got the primary schools involved and asked students to do research on a tourist attraction or historical place of interest in the parish and to make costumes using recyclable materials.
“It went great; our overall winner was Skye Philisciano from Ignatius Byer Primary School,” said a beaming Cumberbatch.
On the night of the Spirit Of The Nation show they intend “to bring the bacon home” and “take the crown back to its rightful place”.
“We have not won the crown since 2009 so we will be coming fast and furious,” said Griffith.
They both said that from the start of this year’s programme in February they have taken away something that will remain with them forever.
“I have become more open, can speak in public and am not as shy as before. I have also mastered the art of listening and paying attention to detail,” Griffith declared.
Cumberbatch noted: “I have been able to boost my self-confidence and, like my partner, I am now able to speak in public. Before, if anyone asked me to speak in public, I would break down crying,” she said, laughing.
Encouragement from supporters has been readily forthcoming.
“Interacting with people within the community, the response has been overwhelming,” Cumberbatch said, as her partner shook his head in agreement.
“Every door we went to we promised, ‘We bringing it home this year and if they thief from we . . . we keeping noise’,” she said amongst peals of laughter.
When the laughter subsided, she added: “They have all been very welcoming and I know within myself that we both have their support.”
“Normally, St Lucy has very strong support, but this year it feels almost as though we have all of Barbados on our side. On our way to do the interview, two people stopped me and asked where they could source the shirts,” added Griffith.
Their final activity before they head into the grand finale is their Bajan Evening in the car park of St Lucy Parish Church tomorrow. It will feature modelling, drama and other activities.
“We have also designed a passport. You know people often say that you have to catch a plane to go to St Lucy so we designed a special passport for people to visit St Lucy, which includes various attractions where you can have your passport stamped,” added Cumberbatch.
For anybody considering joining next year’s Parish Ambassadors programme, they had this advice: “You have to put your mind to it. It’s not just overnight walking into it and thinking it will be easy. You have to be willing and dedicated to join the programme,” said Griffith.
“It’s not just about the glitz and glamour on the night of the Spirit Of The Nation show. It’s about your parish and how best you can help your community. Never forget that!” added Cumberbatch.