The new St. Lucia High Commissioner to the UK, his Excellency Guy Mayers, met with representatives of the various St. Lucan Associations and voluntary groups at a cordial get together on a cold Wintry London evening.  Those in attendance had braced the winter conditions, to engage at short notice the new representative from St. Lucia.

Mr. Mayers began by thanking those in attendance, and quickly gave a history of his working and public life.  A St. Mary College old Boy, who joined the Voice Newspaper and would remain there for the next 18 years of his working life. Three years into his stint at the Voice he was sent for further training at the London School of printing. He remembers his early life in England fondly and hoped to reconnect with the people as soon as possible, hence the reason for the early meeting. His well-documented stewardship of the Chamber of Commerce was glossed over, and some learnt he was the proprietor of the Mirror Newspaper in St. Lucia. He served as a Government Senator and previously held positions of Minister of Trade and Internal Affairs Minister. To bring a little lightness in his introductory narrative he said his life in Elective politics could not be written as successful.  Self-depreciation is good. The English will take to him. But served he did when asked to put his hat in the political ring by the Late Sir John Compton.

The many St. Lucian Associations have been part of the web social and community structure that has held many St. Lucians together in a supportive and empowering way for the past fifty years. They continue to provide help, resource, and guidance to many St. Lucians, that the office of High Commission cannot accommodate. Many a student fallen on hard times without resources owe them a thank you. When young cricketer Dwight Thomas arrived in England without the means of buying basic sporting equipment, UNITY stepped in. They also part sponsored Boxer Ryan Charles trip to the last World Boxing Championship in Russia. Thanks to UNITY’s chair Felicia Hippolyte.

Mrs Felicia Hippolyte, High Commissioner Guy Mayers and Greenage Hippolyte. Photo courtesy Junior Douglas

Mrs Felicia Hippolyte, High Commissioner Guy Mayers and Greenage Hippolyte. Photo courtesy Junior Douglas

Mr.Guy Mayers gave an overview of what he was hopping to archive on behalf of St. Lucians. He mentioned his trip to the city of Birmingham at the start of the year and promised to connect with St. Lucians all over the UK. The need to open opportunities for St. Lucians at home, be it through sports, commerce or the Arts is an explorational goal. His background in business would spur him to engage in bringing investment opportunities to St. Lucia.  His ideas were fresh and well received.  For instance, he felt where possible, he would arrange for passing Government Ministers to meet members of the association when engagement might be needed. This idea should definitely be of benefit to any Government official.  Brexit and the election of Trump has shown you ignore the voice and concerns of the people at your peril.

He spoke at length of the welfare of St. Lucians incarcerated in British Prisons. Anyone with even a fleeting connection with the British Criminal Justice Service will tell you things can go awry and you can be lost within the system.  Take for instance the dead body of a man purporting to be St. Lucian which stayed in a morgue for two years because no one could verify his identity. Put yourself in the position  of a member of his family.  He also spoke about the need for the office of High Commissioner to take the welfare of St. Lucians in all matters that might come under the jurisdiction of the Home Office proactively. He would indeed be seeing members of the Home Office the following week and hoped to have meaning dialogue in regards to the welfare of St. Lucians.

By visiting the elderly St. Lucians in Birmingham within two weeks of taking office and putting the welfare of incarnated St. Lucians at the top of his agenda the new High Commissioner certainly impressed his audience.  It must be said that the theme of “those most venerable in society” was also echoed by Prime Minister Theresa May in her new year address. Singing from the same hymn sheet as the leader of the British Nation will help tremendously.

The High Commissioner also had concerns that the membership of Associations, need to engage proactively with younger St. Lucians. Previous attempts to reach this demographic group well intended and pursued with good intentions has proved a massive failure.  To compel the irony his son David and wife, attended the meeting.  Students of social public morays and modern day communication will point out the trend of public figures bringing their families into the frame.  Have we not seen the Obama girls Malia and Sasha attend functions with their parents over the past 8 years. Did President Obama not take his daughters to Nelson Mandela’s former Robben Island Prison Cell in front of the world press? President elect Donald Trump, children’ Eric, Ivanka and Donald Jn, have accompanied their father on many public events, since the Donald has promised to make America Great again.  Whatever your view on the matter, the young Mayers seems to bring a sense of continuity and hope by their mere presence.

In attendance were Felica Hippolyte, Chair of Unity, Greenage Hippolyte chair of the Canaries St. Lucia association, Mrs. Rufina Felix of the Dennery Association, Bertram Leon, representing the Gross Islet Association, Justin Moore of Greenlight Youth Club  and Mary Matthais of the St. Lucia Diabetes Project.  Also in attendance were individuals including Alex Fontenel and persons  who labelled themselves variously  “floaters” to “The go to Man”, much to the merriment of his Excellency.

When they were asked to give an account of their individual Association, the session turned into a John Kennedy Inauguration themed master class: “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country. “ Most of the associations gave the new High Commissioner a rundown of previous charitable endevours.  There seems to be a combine meeting of the minds that, only by working in partnership and respect will St. Lucia and its people benefit. Past bad practices and unacceptable behaviour by those representing St. Lucia would be address, and not tolerated under his watch.

Without knowing and finding out what the issues were, he would not be in a position to take corrective actions, he assured his audience.  He grew in stature as he listened to what must have been uncomfortable moments of truths. At the end of the two and a half hour meeting he dismissed and thanked those in attendance.  Waiting down stairs, some Twenty minutes later, after the meeting had ended his driver was still checking his watch. The pipe piper had been unable to shake off those around him. Whether it was a meeting of minds or shelter from the London cold, that prevented his audience heading for home, who knows?  in five years time all will be reveal. Perhaps a hint can be gleamed from the whimsical words of British Comic legend Ken Dodd. “When the audience wont’ leave its because they want more”