Photo Caption – Christena Diasater Survivors–left to right–Oswald Tyson; Franklyn Browne; Ivor Brookes and Malcolm MOLLY Simmonds
Charlestown-Nevis-‘I am 49 years old today.’ This was said matter of factly, with no semblance of humour intended, by Malcolm MOLLY Simmonds, former Teacher and survivor of the MV Christena disaster, some forty-nine years ago. He was among several survivors who were present at the annual commemoration service of the worst boating disaster in the history of the federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, which occurred on Saturday 1st August 1970.
The ceremony was held on the Samuel Hunkin’s Drive, in the vicinity of the stone memorial which holds the names of the known persons who died in the tragic incident. The proceedings were ably chaired by Mr. Rohan Isles, Communications officer at the Disaster Management Office.
In his opening remarks, he succinctly summarized the circumstances surrounding that tragic afternoon, 49 years ago and officially established the protocol of the hour, acknowledging the presence of the officials and others present, including Her Honour, Lady Hyleta Liburd and Mr. Liburd; Premier Mark Brantley and Mrs. Brantley and Ministers of Government in the Nevis Island Administration.
There was also the opening prayer was delivered by Pastor Sandra Flemming, while the national anthem sung by all present. The congregation also sang the well-known hymn ‘Blessed Assurance’, followed by the scripture reading, done by Mrs. Thelma Mills.
An audio recording was then played during which the names of the persons who died as a result of the disaster, were called out and this was followed by the naming of all of the persons who survived.
Following the reading of the names, a moment of silence was observed, in honour of those who died. A small number of the survivors of the tragedy was also present at the ceremony and were presented with a boutonniere each. These included: Ivor Brookes; Franklyn Browne; Oswald Tyson and Malcolm MOLLY Simmonds.
Some of the officials present then engaged in the laying of wreaths at the memorial site and the congregation concluded with the singing of the hymn: ‘When the roll is called up yonder.’
The closing prayer was delivered by Pastor Theophilus Kelly and persons present then mingled to fellowship and reminisce, as they sought for rare photos for posterity.
One of the talking points was the long-standing debate, as to why a similar memorial service is not held in St. Kitts each year, as many Kittitians, also lost their lives in the tragedy and there was also an issue with two persons who were present, who claimed to have been on the MV Christena, but their names are not listed among the survivors.