Coming Soon: Willett at 60 – The Life and Times of Elquemedo Tonito Willett

Veteran journalist Stevenson Manners and leading videographer Almon Dasent of Advantage Communications are collaborating to produce a one-hour long documentary, honouring Nevis’ top sportsperson of the past 40 years – Elquemedo Tonito Willett.

Elquemedo Tonito Willett
Elquemedo Tonito Willett

“Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter,” Manners told Nevis Pages in underscoring the importance of the body of work. He said “it will be an important part of our oral history.”

Captioned “Willett at 60 – The Life and Times of Elquemedo Tonito Willett” – the documentary will premiere on Nevis and across the region on Wednesday, May 1 – the date on which, Willett, the first test cricketer from the Leeward Islands turns 60.

Willett who played 20 seasons for Nevis as a left arm orthodox leg-spinner and steady lower-order batsman, was recently honoured by the Leeward Islands Cricket Association (LICA) at the Royal Grand Antiguan Hotel (April 6) to commemorate 100 years of organized cricket in the Leewards. One month prior, Nevisians marked the 40th anniversary of Willett’s test debut at Kensington Oval, Barbados on March 9, 1973. Willett played 5 test matches for the West Indies between 1973 and 1975, and took 11 wickets.

Video shoots at six venues around Nevis pivotal to Willett’s success were completed (Wednesday, April 17), with the final two weeks of April used to ready the documentary for broadcast, including an online service. Manners said for the most parts, the story of Willett will be told through the eyes of the “man himself”, save for the final episode where he will be joined by his life-partner.

It is the latest of honours that have been bestowed on the quiet, unassuming lad, who broke down the geographical barriers for such Leewards’ greats as Andy Roberts, Vivian Richards and Richie Richardson. Twenty-four others, including 6 from Nevis, have followed in his footsteps. Prior to 1973, players selected to the West Indies side came primarily from the so-called “Big Four” of Jamaica, Trinidad, Guyana and Barbados.

In 1997 a stamp issue and First Day Cover bore Willett’s image, in 2001 he received a Life Time Achievement Award from the Nevis Cricket Association, in 2005 he became the first inductee into the Hall of Fame at the newly-opened Nevis Sports Museum, and in 2010 Nevis’ premier sporting venue Grove Park was renamed Elquemedo Tonito Willett Park in his honour.

Willett told Nevis Pages he was humbled, but happy to feature in the upcoming documentary.

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