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First ‘lady’ Lisa Padmore

Natanga Smith Hurdle

First ‘lady’ Lisa Padmore

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Lisa Padmore has an interesting tale to tell. The fact that she is a past student of Harrison College is much to shout about, but more interesting is that she was among the first batch of girls who entered “Kolij” in September 1980 and also the first headgirl at the institution. That day, there were 26 girls waiting at the gates with a myriad of emotions. Thirteen, including Lisa, were placed in Form 1:2, and 13 in Form 1:3.
First day at the school gate. Can you remember what emotions you were feeling?
My most vivid memory was walking to the quadrangle and the school hall for assembly the first morning. We sat at the front on benches with the rest of the first-form boys in our respective classes. While it was a little overwhelming, I was more excited as this was my dream becoming a reality.
When the choice of schools was presented to me, my first choice was always Kolij. My brother Dr Dave Padmore entered Kolij two years before me (he was the headboy in 1985) and I knew some of his friends, but I knew about Kolij since I was three years old.
The late Mrs Blackman who took care of me when I was younger had a son, Paul, who attended Kolij. And I guess because I was enamoured with Paul, I announced boldly that I would attend Kolij. Mama (as I called her) quickly reminded me that Kolij was not a girls’ school, but as she told the story, I replied that it did not matter and emphatically replied that I was going to attend that school.
Describe the uniform at the time. Has it changed or is it the same today?
Pretty much the same except that we did not wear a belt with the school colours; we wore a maroon sash. 
Who was headmaster at the time? Can you remember the first day welcome speech?
The headmaster at the time was Mr Williams. I do not remember his speech but I remember a speech from one of our teachers, Linda Denny (Blackman) about how the girls should interact with the boys and boys with the girls.
How did you get the role of headgirl?
Well, by the time we reached fifth form, some of the 26 girls were made prefects to help the sixth form (male) prefects, especially with the growing female population by that time. I was chosen to be headgirl. I can only assume that I was made headgirl because of my academics as well as being a very active member of the school.
During my time at Kolij, I was in the drama and dance clubs, I was a girl guide with a pack at Pax Hill (as we had no Girl Guide pack), I represented my house Armstrong in sports and represented the school at the Interschool Sports level for several years.
I also sang in the school choir and generally had good relationships with all my teachers.
Who was headboy and who were the deputies?
The headboy in 1987 was Adrian Gill and 1988 was Richard St John. We did not have deputies in those initial years.
As headgirl, what were your duties?
All prefects at the start of the day, after the bell rang, were charged with getting our assigned classes to assembly. The headboy and headgirl were responsible for the order of assembly, assigning students to read lessons and sometimes we read the lesson.
Duties during the day were to ensure the students followed school rules. My favourite rule that I used often, especially when assigning lines to errant students, was “A breach of common sense is a breach of school rules”. 
We also had other duties during the year, especially during ceremonial events.
What were the highlights?
I really liked our memorial service for those Harrisonians who died serving their country in the two world wars. It was our own version of the Remembrance Day service at the Cenotaph in Bridgetown. It involved the school’s cadets, and the headboy and headgirl would lay a wreath at the foot of the clock tower. It was always a moving event for me and I felt very proud being a part of it, when my turn came around.
How was life at Harrison College?
It may sound like a cliché, but some of my best days were my days at Kolij. I never left school at 3 p.m. once I reached second form and had made friends. I enjoyed being in the environment and believe I thrived among the boys.
Most memorable moment at school?
I have so many – but I think it probably was when I received my first school prize at the annual speech day. It was for my performance in Lower Sixth.
Most embarrassing moment at school?
That is an easy one. It did not happen at school but representing the school at a preliminary for NIFCA in dance. Let us just say that what happened got back to my peers and my nickname amongst my schoolmates in fifth form was derived from that incident.
What classes were your favourites and least favourites?
Depends on the actual years – I guess I was always good at maths and really was into English literature in a big way in fourth and fifth form. By sixth form, my subjects of choice were maths, chemistry and geography. Geography fascinated me at the time, especially physical geography.
Name a couple of your favourite teachers.
Mr Jim Bowie taught me physics (which I was not a real fan of) but eventually became the teacher in charge of the drama club and that experience with him was also memorable. 
Mr Persaud taught me maths from fourth form to sixth form, and any class with Mr Persaud was an interesting experience.
Mr Greg Castagne was my English teacher in fourth and fifth and sixth form and I loved his classes. He was and still is one of my favourite people.
Last day at school: describe that feeling.
It was sad, I will admit. We did the whole “write up the uniform” bit and said good-bye to teachers. It was not as bad as the day I left for university because it was at that point I would not see my friends for a while. The best friends I have now are the girls who became my friends when we entered first form together.
What did you take away with you from your time at Harrison College?
Tradition is important – understand where you came from. Always try to learn from your mistakes. School is about academics but it is also about learning to be a part of a community and working together to strive for the best. My sister Nina attended Queen’s College but opted to attend Kolij for her sixth-form years.
After leaving HC, where did your educational and career pathway take you?
I was awarded a Barbados Scholarship in 1988 and went off to McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, in Canada, where I gained a BA in communications. I pursued professional accounting exams when I returned to Barbados, after joining the firm of Ernst & Young.
I am now a fellow of the Certified General Accountants (FCGA) of Canada and the Caribbean. I am currently a partner in the assurance department of Ernst & Young.