For whom the Belles toll
If the saying that the family which prays together stays together is true one can only imagine the strength of that family which prays, plays and studies together.
Such is the case of the Belles whose family adhesive comprises strong doses of sport, church and the pursuit of academic excellence. Mother Suzanne, former student of Queen’s College (QC), set a template of higher qualifications when she graduated from the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, with a bachelor of science in mathematics and computer science.
Her three children, Gary, 28, Gina, 26 and Graham, 24, would follow suit, graduating from Cave Hill as well. Gary and Gina graduated in 2009 with honours in tourism management, and ecology and biology, respectively. Their dad, Charlie also earned his executive MBA that same year.
Gina, who like her mum attended QC, went on to gain her master’s in natural resources and environmental management in 2011 with distinction while Graham, who attended Combermere, as did Gary, graduated last year with a BSc in ecology to complete a full house for the Belles at Cave Hill.
However, it has been the Belles’ involvement in sport which has given them the most prominence particularly in cricket and hockey whether on the field of play or in the administrators’ arena.
Both Charlie and Suzanne played hockey with Charlie being a Barbados fixture from the time that he was a Combermere student in the 1960s well into the 1970s.
Gary represented St Cyprian’s in cricket, football and table tennis and added hockey to his timetable when he moved on to Combermere. It was hardly surprising that Gary would captain cricket teams at all levels, making the Barbados Under-15 team in 2001 and 2002. It was that same year that Gary started playing for Wanderers.
Gina, just like her mum, played hockey for QC. Gina continued at UWI and was good enough to represent Cave Hill at the 2007 Inter-Campus Games in Jamaica. However, Gina has since leant more towards the administrative side of the sport assisting with the running of competitions for Cave Hill and the Barbados Hockey Federation.
“When I was at UWI I had a very good chance of making the Barbados team but I gave up the opportunity to focus on my studies. Since graduating I have recognised many areas that needed help in hockey.
“From observing how my mother operates I realised too late that I had turned into my mother and I could not sit on the sidelines and not help to the best of my ability. Furthermore, my mother has always instilled in us that once we take up something we should see it through to a successful conclusion,” stated Gina.
That closeness to her mother had also led Gina into scoring cricket matches for the Barbados Cricket Association’s First Division Cricket Combined Schools team as well as at the inaugural CPL in 2013.
Suzanne had begun scoring at cricket matches 18 years ago when Gary was playing for St Cyprian’s and the coach had to give up the scorebook to get closer to the boys on the field. Suzanne’s scoring adventure would lead her to become Combermere’s as well as Wanderers’ chief scorer as well as the adopted mother of hundreds of young and old cricketers.
According to Gina, by tagging along with her mother at Wanderers she was introduced into scoring and she also gained a lot more adopted siblings. “Our mother would love the players from Combermere and Wanderers greatly. But, the three of us had the intellectual maturity to recognise that our mother saw the players as her children and they too accepted us as brothers and sisters,” said Gina.
Both Gary and Graham were also full of praise for the support which their parents provided for them to explore and develop their own identities while pursuing success. “The military background of Daddy combined with the relentless drive by Mummy provided the three of us with a valuable foundation,” said Graham.
“They gave us the grounding and allowed us to go on to find ourselves. They have always been there that we can call on them if needed but they have never imposed on our desire to be individuals.”
Ironically, Graham’s brief stints with cricket and volleyball blossomed into a longer bloom of hockey while he was at Cave Hill. However, after taking up his mother’s role as the family photographer Graham recognised a hobby that could become a serious calling where he became the president of the Photographers Club for two years and he was the main photographer for the last Inter-Campus Games that were held at Cave Hill.
Since graduating, Graham has worked as a freelance photographer for a number of top local companies, including Nation Publishing and he recently hosted a series of Understanding shows on CBC TV8.
On the other hand, Gary has been moving away from being the competitive cricketer to getting deeper into streaming and coding cricket matches which is a highly sought-after skill on which coaches rely heavily to plan strategies. Both Gary and Graham have been also developing their security training by working with their father’s Battalion Security Company.
While Suzanne beams with pride whenever she speaks about her three children, Combermere and Wanderers in any order, she downplays the level of efficiency and professionalism which she projects as one of the most sought after scorers.
The immediacy of detailed scoreboards, wagon wheels and other statistics from Suzanne make her a dream come true for both the local and international media, whether she is scoring a club match, an international or just an Under-13 game at Waterford.
However, she prefers to talk about her religious side where she has been worshipping at the St Peter’s Parish Church for a quarter of a century. “I have been living in St George and Christ Church before moving to St Peter and in addition to my children’s development in the academics and sport, I am proud of their religious grounding.”
Gary would speak to that religious grounding which his mother and grandmother had instilled in them. “Mummy and Granny had provided us with the religious and moral guidance which continued at St Cyprian’s and at Combermere. That played a big part in helping the three of us to make the correct choices without having to constantly resort to mummy or daddy for every decision,” said Gary.
“They were brought up in the church and although they may have strayed away from consistent worship as they became adults, I feel a deep sense of pride whenever they join me for service at St Peter,” Suzanne said.