ROCKING CHAIR STORIES: Legs for church
WHEN HE MET the double amputee his heart was touched. But when she remarked: ‘If I had feet I would be able to get out to church’ he felt a great compassion for the St. Michael woman. “That,” explained chorister and tenor soloist Bertie Corbin, is one of my moments in time.” It took place while Bertie, was wearing his “charity hat” – that of being secretary of the local branch of the New York-based Association Aid for the Physically Challenged. A Bajan living in New York gave information about his mother to the head office which in turn passed it on to the Barbados branch. Bertie explained: “In two twos I came face to face with a woman who had lost both feet. “This woman vowed that if ever she got assistance she would go back to church. We went and placed the order for the pair of prosthesis and had them fitted. When that was accomplished we revisited her. Let me tell you something! It was heart rendering to see that lady getting around in the house; she had some therapy; was ultimately walking on them and finally she went back to church. “To me that was something special; I really felt good; doing something meaningful in a person’s life. “Here was someone who for all intents and purposes now finds herself being disabled for the remainder of her life. But this person is saying ’no, no, no; except for the two legs I don’t have a problem; give me two legs and I am on the move again’. “We kept our part of the deal and she was able to fulfil her wish of getting back out to the church where she was a staunch member.” Bertie also has fond memories of the time spent with the Junior Achievement Foundation of Barbados. He recalled: “This time was devoted to helping the youngsters between the fourth and fifth forms to acquire an understanding about business.” Since charity begins at home, Bertie, although over the three score mark, and a senior chorister at the Christ Church Parish Church, observed: “We do more than singing for services. We visit shut-ins”. As leader of the choir’s outreach programme he recalled:”We came across a lady who is visually impaired but who has a strong spirit. As a member of the church she wanted to come out but considered herself a shut-in. “We organised a pick-up group to gather these people at their homes, bring them to the church and then return them. The service was provided by church members. “We put the visually impaired lady into the group and she gets to church at least one Sunday a month, something that wasn’t happening for years. “When I see her at church I am moved by the thought that she was once a shut-in and left to die [when that time comes]; but now is back as active as she can be through the assistance of the pick-up team.” A memory which is close to Bertie’s heart involves his wife’s grandmother Lavinia ‘Baby’ Bynoe. “She always believed in my singing and would say to me – ‘When I die you will have to sing a solo at my funeral.’ “Some years later when she passed away . . . March 3, 1981 – I sang a solo at her funeral service at Christ Church Parish Church; my first ever public appearance as a soloist; before a packed gathering.” Bertie admits that he was shaking at first. But overcame the jitters and went on to become a very much in demand tenor soloist.