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JEFF BROOMES: Remembering the life of Wenona


JEFF BROOMES: Remembering the life of Wenona

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SOMETIMES YOU MEET someone who gives you something that time and distance can never take away. Wenona Sandiford-Hill was one such person. She shone as a wife, daughter, mother, dedicated worker and most treasured friend.

This was a woman with a heart of warming and friend-pulling personality. She projected the message that life was made for living and she knew how to live. She shopped, she dispatched, she laughed and she warmed to friendship.

She had an outstanding work ethic and did not stand for foolishness. She was respectful and expected to be respected. She was honest and took umbrage at anyone who sought to cheat her or the shop.

She never took short cuts. Such was the woman whom I have summed up as one who was involved for the principle and definitely not for the title or the position. She was a gem and, if you never met her, it was your loss.

I spoke those words as part of a tribute to my friend to a packed funeral hall in New York. As I walked away at the end of the ceremony, I was conflicted.  So often we interact with some wonderful people, speak glowingly of them at their death and then allow the sun to set on all the good we knew and memories to even fade.

We as a people can do better than this, because we are better! Our education must allow us to challenge ourselves to institutionalise a legacy that simply promotes the memory of good people in a way that also helps others. 

Wenona loved family, she practised many of the principles advocated by the church. She often recalled her primary school days with much gratitude, and she was a staple at one of our iconic cultural symbols. In this, I found my answer!

I have always been told that the strength of a country is manifest in the level of education, its acceptance of high moral codes, the strength of its family units and the sovereignty of its defining cultural practices. Let’s combine them for good!

As I recall the outstanding qualities of my friend who lived the values that we so often seek to inculcate in our children, it became clear to me that she could be the pioneer in allowing all of us to celebrate life by giving back in the name of others.

In our country, the neighbourhood shop is one of our established cultural institutions.  We had the one-door or window family shop, and I remember the one at the bottom of the Bow Road where we all could trust and pay later.

There was also the little grocery shop where the Saturday baskets were filled with the week’s needs. Such was Jackman’s in Speightstown. This is also the case with the rum shop where gatherings drink, discuss and reminisce (John Moore bar).

Let’s now allow the neighbourhood shop to support the local primary school. Government can’t do all! The usual patrons can donate, tourists, friends and well wishers can lend support. Wenona, look down as your name leads the charge with the hope that other schools will also benefit!


Jeff Broomes is an experienced educator, principal and community organiser who also served as vice-president of the BCA and director of the WICB.
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