Sarah the storyteller
Sarah Taylor is a walking history book and a great pastry maker. When the tour guide invited EASY magazine into her small apartment (“I don’t need much space”), she fed us just-baked rock cakes (“this is my first time making them. I normally bake pastries”) and showed off an impressive collection of shells and some Amerindian artefacts (“my great-granddad was a huge collector”).
Sarah says her love of history was passed down to her by her grandmother Kathleen Bradshaw (who also taught her to make mince pies), who passed away June at the age of 96.
Sarah was “born in St Joseph hospital, grew up in Jackson, St Michael, but spent every summer as a child running up and down the length and breadth of Bathsheba with my cousins learning to swim, surf and catch fish.
“We had family houses there and I would say those were the best times of my life. As a child I spent all my summers in Bathsheba. My grandmother would walk the beach with us collecting shells with us . . . she would always tell us their names.”
Sarah reminisced about sitting on the patio sketching together and “she would tell me stories of the old train line. She would sit in her patio in a rocking chair telling stories whilst doing tattin . . . .”
Sarah, 36, said she grew up on old stories of Barbados and this is where her love for history was born and her desire to share her stories.
Based on Sarah’s findings, she is the descendant of Irish indentured servants, English merchants and probably a Scottish pirate called Red Leg Greaves. Her family history is as rich as the history of Barbados and the Caribbean.
“I am not 100 per cent certain he is my ancestor but it is quite possible. Iris Banochie who started Andromeda Gardens was also a relative of mine.
“H.W. Parkinson was my great grandfather on my mum’s side. He was a photographer in Barbados and also an artist and is well recognized for his work. He drove the royal family around on their trips here. From his father and father before him he had a collection of shells, stamps, coins and artefacts, some of which was passed down to members of the family.”
Sarah is also related to John D. Taylor “who was my father’s great-grandfather. He invented John D. Taylor Falernum. My grandmother was a Roberts . . . she is very stylish and her family started Roberts Manufacturing.”
It was this history and strong Bajan roots that led her to start her own YouTube blog TheBajanTourGirl and her own tour company Glory Tours.
Sarah reveals that her journey to where she is now hasn’t been easy.
Sarah was diagnosed when she was about five or six with dyslexia and “I did have lessons but they did not help me . . . . I have learnt how to get around things on my own as I have gotten older. Knowing that Walt Disney is also dyslexic was a great encouragement.”
She attended St Winifred’s School and harboured a desire to go overseas to study business and management but finances were not that great. She therefore went to work in a family business – Corbin’s Catering – “making the icing flowers for wedding cakes for two years when I was 16. I then worked for my uncle John Bradshaw for five years.”
She said with a serious heart condition and on the advice of her doctor to change jobs, she started the tour guide business at age 24 and with the help of her mother bought one van.
“Glory Tours, I would have to say, it was largely influenced by the stories my gran would tell me and my great love for Bathsheba and the wonderful memories.
“I had no money to start with but the determination I saw in my granny who had a life that faced much sorrow and great challenges. My granny worked hard doing catering because my grandfather died leaving her with three young children – John, Joe and my mum Mary who was two years old at the time.
“She would make sponge cakes and other pastries and walk into town and sell from a basket. She sold her paintings to stores and tourists.”
Sarah took the advice of “uncle John who built a business with the mantra, ‘When you can’t get a horse ride a donkey and when you can’t get a donkey, ride a cow’. Many of my family members are entrepreneurs, including my little brother who owns RT’s Trucking”.
Sarah said while it was very difficult at first, her business has grown and she has added more vehicles and now works with five tour guides.
“As a tour company it is our responsibility to share our island with diverse customers. That means not just driving them about but sharing our history, culture, cuisine, music and arts with them. Barbados has so very much to offer and it is our job to show it off.
“I have really wonderful guides that work with me to make Glory Tours. I try to run the business more like a family because it takes all of us together to make it work. I also encourage the guides to be true ambassadors for Barbados and not just tour guides.”
“Barbados has so much to offer coast to coast and our history is so rich. We live on a beautiful island and we have so much to work with, but we must work together to make it the very best.”
An emotional Sarah said she has suffered racism and prejudice for the colour of her skin.
“It hurts but when people get to know me, they realize who I am. I try to reach out. I am a Bajan. I was born here. I speak a lot about history and my family because our identities are formed largely by our environment.
“I think it is important that we be more sensitive to each other . . . . We have to look to the past for understanding, not dwell on it but use it to move forward as one Barbadian people.”
Sarah has three other siblings and her downtimes are Saturdays and Sundays when she spends time with her family and hangs out on the beach.
“I love to swim, snorkel on the reef and sit on the beach reading history books or books on Barbados and the Caribbean. I talk to the fishermen on the beach who are a fountain of Barbadian history.”
Sarah says she will never get tired of regaling people with stories of pirates, battles, love affairs and fateful journeys: “It’s not about making money and living on millions. I love Barbados. I want to share Barbados and what I love about it with other people.”