Minister in the Ministry of Culture, John King, speaking to members of the Barbados Landship Association. (NCF)

Two Government officials have given the assurance that they will do all in their power to ensure the survival and expansion of Barbados Landship Association.

Minister in the Ministry of Culture John King and Chief Executive Officer of the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) Carol Roberts-Reifer were speaking at the viewing of the body of the late Lord High Admiral Vernon Watson OBE at The Dock, Licorish Village, My Lord’s Hill, St Michael on Wednesday evening.

A parade followed the hearse that bore the body from Carrington Village, St Michael to The Dock, which is home of the Landship. The gathering there was treated to a dance display from the group, including the signature Maypole Dance.

Minister King, who spoke directly to mourning members, said: “The Landship is probably one of the few things that remains as a connection to where we are from. You now have the opportunity and the best thing that you can do is continue the tradition [and] try to expand it even more.

“The best way we can honour him is to ensure that this institution does not die, but rather than die, expand,” he said.

The minister explained that the group was very much a part of Barbadian ancestry.

“It is interesting [that] when I did some of my own research I saw the exact same thing — they don’t call it a Landship but the exact thing is in Ghana. With all of this energy I want you to think  . . . [that] the best thing we can do as human beings is to honour those who would have made significant contributions to our lives.”

Speaking about the late Admiral, the minister told members it was now up to them to ensure the movement remains active and relevant.

“Admiral Watson would have been one of many persons who would have made the contribution to this institution we call the Landship. There are those who have gone before him. He would have had to be bold enough to get past that and also carry on the baton to the next leg. That next leg is you,” he said.

CEO of the National Cultural Foundation, Carol Roberts-Reifer, viewing the body of the late Lord High Admiral Vernon Watson OBE at The Dock, Licorish Village, My Lord’s Hill, St Michael yesterday evening. (NCF)

Roberts-Reifer said not only must the country do its part so that the group “endures” but she threw out a challenge to find creative ways to memorialise Admiral Watson.

Roberts-Reifer said: “We owe it — we as in cultural practitioners, we as in cultural administrators, we as in Barbadians — to Admiral Watson to create a legacy for him, and not just by paying lip service to the preservation of the Landship but making that statement meaningful by ensuring that the Landship endures.

“It is a movement that has seen dwindling numbers over the last decade. We owe it to its members and legacy that this vibrant, important social aspect of our cultural heritage continues.”

The CEO added: “There are a variety of ways it can be done, whether it is through the establishment of docks or mini docks or clubs in schools or community groups across the island, whether it is through documentation and not just a printed documentations; but videos, gaming animation of the history of the Landship. We in Barbados are never short of great ideas.”

The NCF head, noting that Admiral Watson will be missed, advised: “[There] is no doubt that he has made an indelible and extremely important contribution, not only to the preservation of the Barbados Landship, but also to the indigenous and intangible cultural heritage of Barbados.”

Admiral Watson died on January 9, 2021. His funeral service will be held tomorrow, Friday, January 22, at the Holy Innocent Anglican Church, St Thomas. Tributes start at 9 a.m. and the service is at 10 a.m.

A livestream of the funeral can be viewed on the NCF’s Facebook page.

National Cultural Foundation

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