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BARBADIANS AWOKE THIS MORNING to the painful news of the death of their youthful Prime Minister David John Howard Thompson, the country’s sixth leader.

Thompson, 48, died at his home in Mapps, St Philip, at 2:10 a.m., surrounded by his wife and their three children, along with a few confidants and religious intercessors Senator Rev. David Durant and Apostle Eliseus Joseph.

After a valiant and courageous fight against pancreatic cancer Thompson passed away peacefully, according to Pastor Durant who prayed with the Prime Minister and his family during the final hours of his quiet decline.

Seven hours later Freundel Stuart, who was Thompson’s deputy and who acted at Prime Minister on several occasions in recent months, was sworn in as his successor following a meeting of the parliamentary group of the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP).

With his passing, Barbados has been thrown into in a state of mourning highlighted by the cancellation of public and sports events. From daybreak Barbadians on the streets draped both their vehicles and themselves in black as they assembled in small groups to share reminiscences.

Solemn music also filled the airwaves from as early as 5 a.m. as the island slowly came to terms with the news of Thompson’s passing, which came as a shock to many, even though Barbadians had received several warning signs over the past five months that his illness was terminal.

It was on May 14 that Thompson first revealed to the country that he was feeling unwell. At that time, it was unclear what the precise nature or cause of his ailment was.

But there was no mistaking the fact that something was indeed wrong, and that what was later confirmed to be cancer, had already started to impact on the routine of the Prime Minister.

The trademark frequent public appearances of the vibrant Barbadian leader came to a sudden halt. He would only appear in Parliament on one occasion – May 18 – since that first announcement.

He made one memorable television address to the nation followed months later – on September 30 – by a prerecorded radio address, signalling his decline.

He said then “the nature of my medical treatment has occasioned obvious weight loss. I would rather that you get the portent of my message than the picture”.

Thus Barbadians began to come to grips with the fact that the man who just over two years prior had assumed the reins of Government after a convincing January 2008 general election victory for the DLP was in physical decline.

The baby boy born on December 25 – which is celebrated as the birthday of Jesus Christ – appeared ordained for great things and to bring honour to his parents Margaret Knight and Charles Thompson.

But inoperable pancreatic cancer would divert his career path and derail his political promise even as a nation, plunged in disbelief, prayed publicly and privately for a miracle.

The icy hand of destiny determined differently. Thompson, in his final communication sent to his constituents of St John on October 13 would appeal for their prayers while offering more than a useful hint that that the battle was ending.

“May God comfort everyone who may have lost relatives in recent times; may He bless all who are faced with personal and health challenges; indeed may he bless each and every family of St John; each and every child,” he wrote.

“I remain not just your caring Prime Minister, but your dedicated representative and your true friend and confidant.”

Thompson joins Tom Adams and Errol Barrow, becoming the third Government leader to pass away in office. He leaves to mourn his wife Mara, three daughter Osa Marie, Misha and Oya, and other relatives.