ROCKING CHAIR STORIES: Connections
WHEN THE FIRST intake of students lined up to enter the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West?Indies (UWI) Vere Browne was among them.
Vere, who shared some of his journey with me, recalled: “People like Frank Alleyne, Gilmore Rocheford, Glenroy Straughn, Angela Hunte, Isaac Carmichael, Lloyd Wood and Evelyn Greaves were among that group.”
As Vere positioned himself in his career, he had many memorable stints including his time spent at the Government Industrial School.
It was with a sad heart that Vere left the Government Industrial School at the beginning of the 1970s. By then, O.J. Alleyne was the Principal.
He recalled: “When I became games master, I was a very young person, about 18 or thereabouts, and I related very well to the youngsters. I was everything in cricket, an allrounder, and I coached them and I started the basketball team.
“I will not refer to the boys by name; that is a no-no. I am not recommending that; but I had a very good relationship with them.”
From Dodds, Vere went to work with the Ministry of Trade. It was there that Industrial Develoment Corporation (IDC) connections were made.
He recalled some very sound advice which was passed on to him by manager Kurleigh King – ‘Any time you are going before a board [of directors] to defend a situation in which you think you are right and the board is wrong, my man, have your resignation in your pocket.’
“In this instance, we went to the board meeting. He made his presentation, I made mine; we told the board what we thought. The board respected my opinion and agreed with it. Years later, and in a different environment when a situation arose with the Natural Cultural Foundation [NCF], I realised that I was going to have a problem. I remembered Kurleigh’s advice; I resigned right away.”
Vere observed: “Kurleigh had a tremendous influence on my life. He guided me and if I did something wrong he would draw it to my attention.”
It was that sort of guidance that inspired Vere even towards the end of his career when the IDC launched the Small Business and New Enterprise Division.
Vere recalled: “Nobody seemed interested in heading it and the job fell to me.”
He had an idea to help small businesses. It was an incubator scheme and he had a site in mind – the old N.E. Wilson property at Fontabelle which had been owned by Government and passed on to the IDC.
“I discussed the idea with Erskine Thompson, of the Construction Division,” Vere recalled. “I pointed out that we had to do something to help small business.”
The building was completed, the various rooms to house the small businesses were built, and with a feeling accomplishment, Vere Browne looked on as yet another of his small business ideas took off.
“After we set up the building, nobody opposed it,” he recalled. “We provided ten incubator units and all the services while the occupant would have only to concentrate on his production.
“That was the beginning of the local entrepreneurship scheme,” Vere recalled.
NEXT: Opening up more opportunities.