To Sir Lloyd with love
It was June 7, 1994. The scene was the House of Assembly, Parliament Buildings, during an historic no-confidence motion brought against then Prime Minister Erskine Sandiford (now Sir Lloyd).
His response in part to the vote was: “History will be kinder to me than the histrionics and polemics which my opponents have brought to bear on this issue.”
Twenty-four years on, hundreds turned up Saturday night at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, named after the island’s fourth Prime Minister, to herald the 80-year-old for his contribution to education and also to the development of Barbados at a social, political and economic level.
Those gathered at the Two Mile Hill, St Michael facility made sure the occasion lived up to its billing To Sir With Love, in which colleagues, former students and well-wishers paid tribute to Sir Lloyd.
Those in attendance included Governor General Dame Sandra Mason, former Acting Governor General Sir Philip Greaves, Sir Lloyd’s former personal assistant from 1991 to 1994 Chris Sinckler, now Minister of Finance, Minister of Education Ronald Jones, other Government MPs and former Chief Education Officer Ralph Boyce.
Sir Lloyd, supported by Angelita Lady Sandiford, was humbled by the tributes.
“I thank all of those who have spoken, for the good words that they have said about me. On a different occasion they may say other things,” he said as the room erupted in laughter. “I wish to thank them all for the very gracious and very detailed words that they have uttered.”
A prelude of classical music by the Barbados Community College’s (BCC) wind ensemble shaped the mood for the evening as well as other musical tributes – from second-year music student Claire Hunte, who did Lulu’s To Sir With Love; the BCC’s choir, and graduate violinist Wesley Morris.
BCC registrar Roger Worrell singled out Sir Lloyd’s tenure as an educator and his service as tutor in Caribbean politics and economics at the college for many years, but defined as his greatest legacy the establishment of the Barbados Community College in 1968.
“Mr Sandiford was persistent in ensuring that education was democratised and decolonised to ensure that the masses of Barbadians were exposed to post-secondary education because hitherto, sixth form education was limited to a particular section of the population. Mr Sandiford was committed and he had the ideological strength to ensure that in spite of the resistance, the Barbados Community College was established,” added Worrell, a view that was also endorsed by one of Sir Lloyd’s former students, now Justice Carlisle Greaves.
Attorney at law Junior Allsopp, another one of Sir Lloyd’s students, spoke to his political prowess and characterised him as a man whose word was always his bond, and a man of vision and integrity. Allsopp maintained when the history of Barbados’ politics was examined, Sir Lloyd would be thoroughly vindicated and deemed a man ahead of his time.
“And nothing was more glaring than when we entered this economic crisis we are currently in. I watched from the balcony of Government Headquarters persons marching 30 000 strong . . . . It was a lonely period and not that it gives me pleasure when I realise that after 26 years, when those same persons who marched against Sir Lloyd because they didn’t understand and couldn’t comprehend big mind, big spirits, get on my national TV and calling for the same policies that Sir Lloyd had introduced 26 years earlier to rescue Barbados, I am convinced that Sir Lloyd, you were way ahead of your time and they are now catching up.”
Sinckler a student of Sir Lloyd’s government and politics class of 1987, recounted the strict, encouraging and fun times in the classroom. Describing him as his mentor, he talked about how he played a personal role in the development of his life, particularly as a young man of humble origins.
Sinckler, who was Sir Lloyd’s personal assistant when he was Prime Minister, added that his mentorship prepared him for the pressures of elective politics and taught him that one did not recoil in tough times.
“He always had a saying, ‘Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown’. And I have come to personally myself understand this and learn from it because it is not always the best thing to do things which we consider to be popular. It is easy to do popular things but it may not be the best thing.
“Therefore, if there is nothing else from that period that I learned, [it was] his steadfastness, his application, his dedication to Barbados and Barbadians even though he was the most reviled, criticised and even abused. We’ve lived to see today when people who lived in that space and who operated in that space, have given him the dues which is his for his tenacity, his intellect and his plain love and dedication for this wonderful country of ours,” Sinckler added. (SDB Media)