Former PM Rejects Naming Honour, Explains Why

Former prime minister Baldwin Spencer (File photo)

Former prime minister and former parliamentary representative for the St. John’s Rural West Constituency, Baldwin Spencer, has for the first time, spoken publicly on his decision to decline having the newly- erected sports and community centre at “Knuckle Block” named in his honour. 

Speaking on Observer Radio’s Good Morning Jojo Sports show, Spencer said he believes the facility should carry a name that embodies and reflects the entire community. 

“We should make is simple and just refer to it as the Gray’s Green Community Complex or Community Centre in terms of that section of it which has nothing to do with King George V Grounds itself. I also put forward some suggestions as to the renaming of the King George V Grounds facility where I looked at some of the sports personalities in the area and especially those who would have excelled in both cricket and football, not only at the level of community, but persons who would have risen not only to the national level but at lease risen to excel at the sub-regional level,” he said. 

Spencer revealed he had suggested four former sportsmen in Jerome Tittle, Conrad “Sudie” Whyte Sr., Keithley “KS” Sheppard and Veron Edwards Sr., as possible individuals after which the adjacent King George V Grounds could be renamed. He suggested an amalgamation of the names to form an acronym. 

Giving the facility a more broad-based name, Spencer said, would better motivate those within the community to feel a sense of ownership and obligation. 

“Quite frankly, you have to get the community to be very much part of the whole management and organisation of that facility going forward and so give it, from the very beginning; that this is your thing, it is the Gray’s Green Community Complex or Centre and everybody irrespective of political [persuasion] would have an interest in ensuring that our facility which carries our name as a community will be kept in good order, will be properly managed, properly organised and it would be able to deliver for the community what was intended,” the former PM said. 

Spencer, who also served as president of the Empire Football Club for many years, said he was however honoured to have been thought of in that regard. 

“Although I consider it laudable and perhaps, deserving, under the circumstances and recognising that this is a new facility it would not be a good idea to have the naming of it personalised at this time,” he said. 

“Having looked at the situation closely and in keeping with my feeling that what you need with community facilities of this kind is some sort of unity of purpose right across the board and when you go and you personalise it, it creates a problem and so that was basically my rationale for saying laudable idea, perhaps deserving but under the circumstances I didn’t think that it was the best thing to do,” he added. 

Minister of Sports Daryll Matthew, in late October, said the planned Independence handing over of the facility had been delayed. The cause of the delay, he said, is the absence of a transformer which is needed for the supplying of electricity to the building. 

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