“GG toasts three in virtual celebration”

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The COVID-19 pandemic has not prevented Governor General Dame Sandra Mason from joining in the celebrations for centenarians, albeit virtually, as she toasted the three newest centenarians last Saturday.

The first stop was made to Aurora Ethel “Dot” Burke (below), at Ruby, St Philip, when the Governor General's Aide-de-Camp Major Julia Dabreo, delivered a basket of flowers, wine and a birthday card.

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Dame Sandra interacted via Skype with Burke, who declared she was familiar with some of the Mason family members residing in Bayfield, St Philip. “You don’t know Dot Burke?” she asked Dame Sandra, to peals of laughter from her children and other relatives gathered.

The Governor General said it was on the backs of people like Burke, a mother of 12, who was educated at Beulah and Bayley’s schools, that Barbados was built, and urged family members to continue taking good care of her.

The festivities continued at the Geriatric Hospital on Beckles Road, St Michael, where Dame Sandra also chatted via Skype with Isa Wilhelmina Wickham (left), whose birthday was also on Saturday, and Eileen Delsina Sealy, who celebrated her milestone on Saturday, July 4.

Family members joined the Governor General in toasting the three centenarians, as they were each presented with a basket of flowers, wine and a birthday card.

Following the presentations, family, along with staff of the hospital, sang the Happy Birthday song.

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Wickham (left) was born in Airy Hill, St George, and educated at St George Girls’ School. After leaving school, she was employed as a maid in private homes. A mother of nine, with one deceased, Wickham later moved to Newbury in the same parish, and then to Princess Royal Avenue, The Pine, St Michael, until being admitted to the Geriatric Hospital more than five years ago.

Sealy was born in Knight’s Village, Four Roads, St John, and educated at Mount Tabor Primary School to seventh standard.

After leaving school at age 14, she was employed as a maid at the then amalgamated police and fire station in Four Roads, where she spent 45 years in the government service.

Although she was never married or had any children of her own, “Aunt Eileen”, as she is affectionately known, mothered many of her nieces and nephews, all of whom now reside in the United States. Aunt Eileen was also a mother figure to several great nieces and nephews.

Dame Sandra thanked the staff at the Geriatric Hospital for taking excellent care of the centenarians, the “foundation builders” of Barbados. (BGIS)