St. John’s Antigua- Winston Derrick, the voice of the people, is no more.
Derrick died Saturday morning at 2 am, leaving a nation in mourning.
The 62-year-old, self-described “fooley boy from Ovals” was the chairman and co-founder of OBSERVER Publications Limited. He had hosted the groundbreaking radio programme Voice of the People for the last 12 years.
News of his passing spread throughout Antigua & Barbuda and abroad as the country woke.
Condolences flooded OBSERVER’s phones, website and fan page from grieving and bewildered people from all strata of society, including dignitaries, friends and the man on the street.
Prime Minster Baldwin Spencer expressed his sympathies on behalf of the government, his family, and the people of Antigua & Barbuda, saying, “He certainly will be missed.”
“One of the saddest news I have heard in a long while is the news of the passing of Winston Derrick. It came as a real shock.
“It is a very, very sad moment for the whole of Antigua & Barbuda and, by extension, the region. Winston Derrick and the Observer group have played a phenomenal role in the whole question of press freedom in this country.
“He clearly was a patriot of this country, he was truly an Antiguan and Barbudan,” the prime minister said.
Leader of the opposition, Gaston Browne, said the chairman gave a voice to the voiceless.
“Winston Derrick will certainly be greatly missed, there is no doubt that he provided many individuals in this country with a voice; many individuals, including politicians, who were voiceless.
“I would say, in my case, in some instances where I found myself relatively voiceless, that OBSERVER Media Group gave me a voice and I am eternally grateful to Winston Derrick,” the opposition leader said.
His close friend and a company foundation member, Selvyn Walter, simply characterised his longtime friend, saying, “The man, Winston Derrick, was fantastic.”
A comment from OBSERVER’s fan page said, “Antigua has lost not only a very important media figure, but a pillar of the community. I am very sorry to learn of his passing.”
This is just one of the numerous words of sympathy shared by OBSERVER listeners and readers.
Derrick started OBSERVER Media in 1993 with his brother, Samuel “Fergie” Derrick—who died in 2003—with a newsletter distributed via fax.
In 1996, with a small staff, the brothers expanded into broadcast media.
On the first day of production, police raided the premises, seizing all the equipment needed to operate.
After a five-year battle to ensure OBSERVER Radio would be a reality, the Privy Council decided in the Derrick’s favour—allowing the radio operations to be reborn in 2001.
The Derrick brothers then acquired controlling interest in Antigua Printing and Publishing Ltd, but untenable economic sanctions levied against OBSERVER Publications Ltd by the Antigua Labour Party (ALP) regime caused the directors to relinquish their shares to employees.
Other business ventures include forming OBSERVER cellular Ltd, which, during its first year of operation, brought down mobile phone rates by more than 40 per cent. The controlling interests in the cellular company were subsequently sold to AT&T in 2002.
Winston Derrick leaves to mourn his family, friends and his OBSERVER Publications family. The chairman would have been 63 on February 27.