Member of Parliament for St. George South and Minister of Housing, Lands and Maintenance, Dwight Sutherland, presents centenarian, Ottaline Sealy with a fruit basket, while her family and Rev. Dr. Marcelle Brathwaite of the South District Methodist Church (at right) look on. (T. Barker/BGIS)

One of Barbados’ latest centenarians, Ottaline Sealy, celebrated her birthday on Wednesday August 10, 2022, surrounded by family, friends and members of the South District Methodist Church, in St. George.

Mrs. Sealy also received a special visit, via Zoom, from President of Barbados, Her Excellency, The Most Honourable Dame Sandra Mason.

In addition, Member of Parliament for St. George South, Dwight Sutherland, who is also Minister of Housing, Lands and Maintenance, visited Mrs. Sealy.

After Ms. Vernese Greaves, a member of the South District Methodist Church, led those gathered in prayer, one of the centenarian’s daughters, Sylvia Flavius, paid tribute to her mother.  Ms. Flavius shared that her mum “was a hard working one”. 

She revealed that Mrs. Sealy was a labourer who worked at Orange Hill and Four Hill plantations and then at the National Conservation Commission where she was employed for 18 years until her retirement.

The daughter further noted that their mum “never let us starve; she always made sure there was food on the table”. 

Another daughter, Arlene Straker, disclosed that her mother’s favourite foods included cou cou and ground provisions, but said she “eats everything, has a hearty appetite and is in good health”. 

Ms. Straker thanked the members of the South District Methodist Church for rendering great assistance to her mum, stating: “They do not leave her out.”

The centenarian had 17 children and “never spared the rod”, desiring that her children be obedient and respectful to others. Of the 17, eight are alive.  There are 22 grandchildren, 27 great grands and five great great grandchildren.

Her Excellency Dame Sandra commented on how well the centenarian appeared and stressed: “I am happy to hear that you have been taking good care of her.”  Additionally, she told the family: “We who are a bit younger do not appreciate people like her, who have been the foundation of our country and we need to continue to revere them as long as they are on this earth…. She is fortunate in the fact that she can live out her days around her family.”

Further commending Mrs. Sealy’s children and grandchildren for looking after her so well, Dame Sandra said: “Thank you very much for bringing her to this stage because she brought you to your stage and you are reciprocating and giving back what she’s given you.”

Meanwhile, Minister Sutherland, recalling that he met Mrs. Sealy in 2012, said that she “was like an auntie to me”. He added: “Every time I would come around [to visit], I would hear of the wonderful things that she has done for her children and her grandchildren.”

Minister Sutherland presented Mrs. Sealy with a fruit basket and joined in the rendition of the Happy Birthday song for the centenarian, who when asked to give her sentiments on the occasion, replied, “[It] feels good”. On behalf of Her Excellency, the Aide-de-Camp, Sub-Lieutenant Jamal Wiggins, presented her with a greeting card, a fruit basket and a bottle of wine. 

Troy Barker

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