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Driver still torn up

Ezra Stuart

Driver still torn up

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“I wish he would come back!”
A year has passed since the death of former Prime Minister David Thompson, but Kelvin “Dopey” Howell, his personal driver and best friend for 15 years, still hasn’t got over his untimely passing.
“I still miss him. It is like . . . [shaking his head] he just gone yesterday. The memory is still there. Honestly, I wish he could come back,” an emotional and teary Howell told the SUNDAY SUN in his first public interview since Thompson died last year.
“Ah, boy, all I could say, is gone too soon. I wish I could tell him . . . ,” he added as his voice trailed off.
Since their first meeting, more than a decade and a half ago, the bearded 32-year-old Howell, who grew up in the Small Town Village of St John, just a stone’s throw away from Thompson’s constituency office in Gall Hill, they formed a special bond.
“When I first met him, I was about to get locked up really and truly; me and three more youngsters. That time, I was young, like 15, and get in a li’l trouble and was about to feel the pinch of the judge.
“Mr Thompson stepped in and intervened. From there, it was just like respect right through,” recalled Howell.
Having learnt his lesson and vowing not to cross the same path, Howell said he was never one to ask Thompson for any favours afterwards.
“You know, when you see a politician, you always want, but not with me. Instead, it was the opposite with me and him. After what he did for me, whenever I see him, I would ask him what he wanted. So we just started to bond from there,” Howell said.
“I born the 24th of December, he was born the 25th. So when we got to know these things, the partying started and we were just on a rampage. We just use to party and lime and just beat some booze,” Howell said with a rare smile.
Not only in Barbados would Thompson and Howell be seen together. They also travelled overseas, going to places such as New York, Atlanta and Texas in the United States, Canada, Mexico, as well as Caribbean countries such as St Lucia, Trinidad, St Vincent and Antigua.
“We supported each other as friends do. He came to my football games and I would go to his political meetings,” said Howell, who played as a striker in the Families First St John Sonnets side.
Howell revealed that it was always Thompson’s dream to become Prime Minister of Barbados.
“I remember many mornings when we were going to work – that time he had his law office in Bay Street – and we driving past the Prime Minister’s Office, he would tell me, ‘Son, boy all you have to do is to help me get in there. That’s all, boy. I just can’t wait to get in there’.
“That was always his destiny. Just to be a Prime Minister. That is all he wanted to be.”
Noting he was never one to discriminate, Howell said his dreadlocks didn’t stop Thompson from inviting him to social gatherings and other important political functions of the Democratic Labour Party.
Thompson’s death has not stopped Howell from doing any chores for his widow Mara Thompson and their three girls Mesha, Oya and Osa-Marie.
“Any time they call me, I would still go. As I told Mrs Thompson, I’m at their disposal, any time, any hour they are in any need of a favour. I am still there for them and will always be – and no need for any payment,” said Howell, who is now unemployed.
“He had a lot of confidence in me and would call me the son that he never had.”
Howell said it was a double blow for him last year as mother his Marvo Howell, the one who gave him his nickname “Dopey” when he was a teenager, had predeceased Thompson by just one month.
“I buried her a month before the ‘Boss’ passed away; so it was a rough one. Just a month apart, I lost my mother and my best friend.”