Thompson was destined for big things
Denise Nicholls reflects on the friendship shared from day at Combermere with the late Prime Minister David Thompson.
Many friendships that last well into our adult years are formed during our childhood years. In fact, there is an old saying that the friends you’ll have for life are the ones you meet in college. Well, Denise Nicholls can add that one such friendship was formed during her school days at Combermere with the late Prime Minister David Thompson.
Her fond memories of the tall, lanky, self-assured youngster whose passion for debating and a penchant for a career in politics was present even then.
“When he was in sixth form, he would tell you even then, ‘I am going to be Prime Minister of Barbados’,” Denise recalled fondly. “He got involved in the debates at school; he would hold these lively decisions – somehow he always knew that was the course he wanted.”
Those words he uttered became his reality, and Denise, along with many of his friends, expected nothing less from him.
“When he became Prime Minister there was no surprise, no shock,” she added. “You just figured it became a reality. If you knew David, that was who he was.”
Denise attests to the fact that despite his ascension to the highest office in the land, David never forgot his friends. Theirs was a friendship that stood the test of time. She told EASY Magazine of the many text messages she received, the telephone calls, the Combermere reunions. Through it all, he remained the samelevel-headed person, with a witty sense of humour that she had grown to know and love.
“Because he was a man for the people when he became Prime Minister he was at every single function,” she said smiling. “He cut out a little time for everyone and when we had a Combermere reunion, he was there. He stopped, took photos, and would reminisce about the old times at school.”
The memories of those old times are what Denise cherishes now more than ever in the wake of his passing. She recalled the time he took her to Chefette and even though she was very hungry, she didn’t want to eat. She said: “David said, ‘I know you’re sitting there hungry as ever and you’re pretending you don’t want anything to eat’. I couldn’t help but laugh because he was right, I was so hungry.”
According to Denise, she could recount so many of those stories that just bring a smile to her face.
“The smile that he would give, that half-smile, where you would be thinking, ‘Ah I got him’, and he’d be thinking ‘I got you’,” she said.
Denise is so thrilled that her good friend finally got the opportunity to live his dream.
“The passion that he had and the dream he pursued . . . consumed him,” she said. “I personally feel his death, not just because of our friendship, but because of who he was and what he embodied. He was just someone who had so much to offer and to be gone at this time is hard, when there was still so much to do.”
When Denise learned of the news of his death, she was in London.?Even though she knew the gravity of his illness, his death still came as a shock.
“I was still believing for the miraculous,” she said. “I though that he fought valiantly and that made me feel strong. I never picked up any weakness in him.
“There was a closeness like that of a family member. You just expect your leader is going to last a little longer than your average Joe.”
While the Prime Minister’s death at 48 has touched many, Denise knows that it will have a lasting impact as well.
“Even though it may seem as if his death is so tragic, more good may come as a result of his death,” she said. “Maybe Barbadians will anchor their souls in something bigger than them. There has to be something greater out of this.”
While Denise now holds onto the memories of the man she knew since school days and watched blossom into a great leader, to her he was still just ‘David’.
“When I heard Pastor Durant say that he committed his life to God, that made me feel comfortable,” Denise said. “He fought the good fight like the Apostle Paul. He showed that people can accomplish much in a short space of time. I know he made the most of the opportunities that were afforded him.”