Our managing editor, Gemma Handy, described the mood as electric. Normally quite stoic and composed, she could barely contain her excitement as she filed a live report to last Thursday’s VOICE OF THE PEOPLE (VOP) broadcast from the Antigua Dockyard, where Travis Weste and Joseph ‘JoJo’ Nunes were about to make landfall. It was roughly 1:50 pm, and the gathering was peering eagerly for the first glimpse of the rowers rounding the bend across from Fort Berkeley. Gemma spoke of the profusion of Antigua and Barbuda flags, as the proud families of our two heroic sons assembled on either side of a grand stage. She described the horns and the whistles, and our VOP guest at the time, Gladys Potter, the United Progressive Party’s candidate for St John’s Rural South, shared that she was getting goose-bumps, caught up in the rapture of it all. As were we. After all, history was being made.
These two intrepid young men, had taken up the challenge of the world’s toughest row, the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge, vowing to place first in the Pairs category. And they did. We salute them! We further applaud their magnificent effort since it was all in aid of the Rotary Club of Antigua Sundown, a most worthy charity. Their names will forever be remembered, much as are the names of Messrs John Desmond Hall, Rowan Archie Bailey, Dr Nicholas Fuller and Peter Smith of Antigua and Barbuda Team Wadadli, who made the voyage in 2015 -2016 (52 days); Messrs Eli Fuller, John Watt, Nico Psihoyos and Scott Potter of Team Antigua Barbuda Atlantic Rowers in 2017 – 2018 (30 days); and Team Antigua Island Girls – Elvira Bell, Christal Clashing, Kevinia Francis and Samara Emmanuel 2018 – 2019 (47 days). Hmmm! Seems this little dot in the Caribbean Sea is producing courageous men and women who can dream big and do exploits. And not merely for self-glory, or the thrill and love of adventure, or to massage their egos, but for needy environmental and humanitarian projects.
Consider, Team Wadadli’s Charity was the St. John’s Hospice. Team Antigua’s was to raise funds for a marine management area. Team Antigua Island Girls raised funds (over EC$600,000) for The Cottage of Hope, a home for girls who have been abused, neglected or orphaned. Clearly, we can identify a need, and rise to the occasion in wondrous and admirable ways to fill that need. It is the stuff that dreams are made of; it is the stuff of which we Antiguans and Barbudans are made. From Sir Vivian Richards, one of the world’s greatest batsmen of all time (he is ranked in the top five by WISDEN, behind Sir Don Bradman, Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Jack Hobbs, and Shane Warne), to Sir Andy Roberts, one of the world’s greatest and most fearsome fast bowlers of all time, we always seem to produce men and women of exceptional talent and determination – an indefatigable drive in the pursuit of excellence.
We really abhor underachieving and mediocrity, and we are more than a bit dismayed at some of our Antiguan cricketers who are blessed with enormous natural talent, but seem to be struggling with living up to the promise of that native ability. And don’t talk about the rest of the hapless West Indies team. It is quite demoralising to our psyches, the way that our cricketers of recent times, invariably find new and shameless ways to lose. Sigh! Oh for that day when they will do what Sir Viv once demanded of a colleague who kept promising to bat a little better on his next turn at the crease, but always found a way to fail: “Tap say dat yuh go do om, and just do om!”Mind you, this was way back in the day, before sneaker giant, NIKE, coined its famous slogan, JUST DO IT!
And speaking of “Just doing om,” we must mention an Antiguan who recently climbed to the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro (19,340 ft) in East Tanzania to raise funds for The Halo Foundation, our well-known charity that assists some 36 charitable organisations, under the distinguished patronage of Their Excellencies Sir Rodney and Lady Williams. We’re referring to Brent Scotland, President of Halo Generation Y, a 28-year-old youngster, who scaled one of the world’s most daunting heights in all of six days, a little over a year ago. The trek normally takes nine days. He was accompanied by Lynn Sutherby of the UK. Bravo! Their magnificent feat ought to be an inspiration to us all. They too lived their dream, and made us proud.
Having said that, it is my dream to scale Boggy Peak, all 1,319ft, for my sixtieth birthday later this year. Our very own VOP co-host, Franz DeFreitas, is talking about making the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic race with his wife and kids. Hmmmmm! More power to them! Of course, he has yet to convince his wife that this is something that they should undertake together, or him rowing solo. He is considering dangling the very tantalising suggestion that he will take out a million-dollar insurance policy on his life. She has yet to respond, unlike Dr Nicholas Fuller’s dear wife who promptly dropped her opposition to his cross-Atlantic dream, after he told her of his million-dollar life insurance policy. With her as the beneficiary. (He shared that joke on VOP)
Folks, “To sleep . . . perchance to dream – ay, there’s the rub . . .” [Shakespeare, HAMLET] Or better yet, consider Frank Sinatra’s, THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM: “To dream the impossible dream / To fight the unbeatable foe / To bear with unbearable sorrow / To run where the brave dare not go / To right the un-rightable wrong / To love, pure and chaste from afar / To try when your arms are too weary / To reach the unreachable star / This is my quest / To follow that star / No matter how hopeless / No matter how far . . .” May we be thusly inspired.
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