REMEMBERING BREE: Address by PM St. John
Today, we continue our look at former Prime Ministers of Barbados with Harold Bernard St John. The following address was made by him after he assumed the office of Prime Minister, following the death of Tom Adams.
IT IS WITH a sense of deep personal loss and much sadness that I address you this evening. As you have already been told, the Right Honourable Tom Adams died early this afternoon at Ilaro Court, from a heart attack.
Shortly before five o’clock this evening, I responded to an invitation from His Excellency, the Acting Governor General Air Arnott Cato, and took the oath of the office of Prime Minister.
Prime Minister Adams was the son of the late Sit Grantley Adams and Grace, Lady Adams. He was born on September 24, 1931 and was educated at St. Ursula’s and Harrison College in this island.
In 1950 he won a Barbados Scholarship on Mathematics proceeded to Magdalen College, Oxford University where he graduated in Politics, Philosophy and Economics.
He was a barrister-at-law of Gray’s Inn and a Queen’s Counsel, he was also a producer for the British Broadcasting Corporation.
In 1966 he was elected senior member for the constituency of St. Thomas; and in 1971 he became Leader of the Opposition, and chairman and political leader of the Barbados Labour Party.
Since 1976 he was Prime Minister of Barbados. In that high and demanding office he gave freely and fully to his country. And whilst this is not intended to be a full tribute, it is but fitting to recognise his outstanding personal qualities and his great contribution as a national leader.
He was blessed with a fine intellect which he cultivated to the fullest through his insatiable appetite for reading.
As an orator he was unsurpassed. As an educator he had formidable skills. As a leader of men, he was both wise and compassionate. No one could have wished for a more reliable ally or a more sincere friend.
As Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, he demonstrated an unmatched flair for management, and an instinctive grasp for monetary and fiscal subtleties.
His vision of Barbados was one of a country blessed with prosperity, fully shared by all classes, and devoted to the protection of the disadvantaged, the sick, the aged and the handicapped.
My sympathy and that of my colleagues and that of the entire nation goes out to his wife, Genevieve, his mother, Grace, Lady Adams, and his sons Douglas and Rawdon and all his sorrowing relatives.
His life was a shining example to us all. And, when the hand of death snatched him from us he was at the height of his powers.
As a temporary measure, and in order to ensure continuity, the Governor-General, acting on my advice, has re-appointed all minister to their respective positions.
The programmes initiated by Mr. Adams’ Cabinet will continue with the same commitment to probity in public life, the pursuit of commonsense solutions to national problems and the quest for equity and justice for all in our society.
Saturday next, March 16, has been set as the date for the funeral. As the arrangements are finalised, they will be made known to you.
A week of national mourning has been announced; and all flags will be flown at half-mast.
In this moment of national loss I know I can rely on the traditional calm and dignity of fellow Barbadians. The challenge ahead of us is to fight for the high ideals and the noble objectives which Prime Minister Adams set himself and which characterised his life.
It will not be easy; but I am confident that, with God’s blessings and your support, we will not fail his memory.
He was a true Barbadian and Caribbean patriot.