Dame Patricia dies
Dame Patricia Symmonds will be remembered as a “Barbadian icon”, master of the English language, and visionary educator, who also served at the community level and in politics.
She passed away today at the age of 94.
She received numerous awards for her contributions to society, most notably the appointment as Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, by Her Majesty, the Queen, in 2000.
The Barbados Labour Party (BLP) Government paid a glowing tribute to Dame Patricia in a statement today, calling her a “lady of great poise”.
“She was the best, and probably is the last, of a unique classical group that represented the best of Barbados, exuding and instilling the importance of character and civil conduct while encouraging achievement and personally assisting and influencing hundreds as a result of a modern view of personal and national development.
“Her life was one of dedication, exemplified by long service to every institution in which she was involved,” the statement said.
Dame Patricia made a historic mark at The St Michael School, where she spent her teaching career. She taught there from 1945 to 1985, and was principal from 1976 to 1985.
“Her pioneering work at The St Michael School forged an education and developmental nexus that was very much ahead of its time. It included strengthening religious principles to encourage discipline, personal responsibility, humility and leadership; expansion of the school orchestra and the enlargement of the school curriculum to include sports and other extracurricular activities.”
She was known for the personal encouragement given to students that often meant the difference between failure and success.
Dame Patricia was also a part-time lecturer at the UWI Cave Hill and gave free tutorials. Her achievements were many and, as a founding member and president of the Barbados Association for the Teaching of English for 22 years from 1967, she led work that evaluated external examinations and English curricula and secured the separation and independent grading of English Literature from English Language.
Though she had a love for teaching, Dame Patricia’s interests were diverse. She was Chair of the Royal Commonwealth Society, President of the Friends of St.John Ambulance Brigade, a member of the National Trust, Barbados Family Planning Association, life member of the Barbados Cricket Association.
The statement also thanked Dame Patricia for her contribution to politics and the party: “And, of course, the Barbados Labour Party will always be deeply grateful for the gift that was Dame Patricia. Her devotion to our Party is legendary, demonstrated not only in tireless work in numerous areas but in attending almost every possible meeting, branch or national, even in later years when she had to be assisted.”
She served as BLP general secretary between 1986 and 1994 and was a President of the Women’s League. She was Deputy Chair of the Commission on Social Justice, Deputy Chair of the defining National Commission on the Status of Women, served in the Senate for 13 years, becoming the first female Deputy President and was a member of the Privy Council. (PR)