BASSETERRE, St.Kitts- On Sunday 17th April, more than 400 guests gathered at the historic Dewar’s Estate in West Basseterre for a Tea Party and Hat Parade in salute to the people empowerment legacy of the nation’s first national Hero, the Rt. Excellent Sir Robert L. Bradshaw, in regards to his thrust for ordinary people to climb the socio-economic ladder in the land of their birth.
The grand event was presented by the RLB Centennial Celebration Committee as part of the year-long calendar of activities in honour of the late iconic leader who would have celebrated his 100th birthday on the 16th of September this year.
The audience were treated to a Hat Parade and Fashion Show featuring both female and male models showcasing eye-catching head wear complemented by stylish outfits.
The St. Peter’s Quadrille Dancers, the Jingle Bells String Band, saxophonist Mr. Alex Condell and steelpanist Mr. Rupert Herbert (retired Government minister) were also part of the entertainment highlights.
Following a Hat Contest, four members of the audience were adjudged winners of the four categories for Most Elegant Looking, Most Vintage Looking Hat, Most Creative Looking Hat- and Best ‘Look Alike’ Of Sir Robert.
Included on the hot beverage menu were an assortment of teas and other tasty drinks such as lemon grass, mint, cinnamon, coffee, chocolate and a Sir Robert’s favourite- Earl Grey tea.
The event was chaired by Ms. Michelina Charles-Hazelle.
Leader of the St.Kitts-Nevis Labour Party, Dr. Denzil L. Douglas, during his presentation, spoke about the significance of the host venue which was bought by the late Ambassador of St.Kitts and Nevis to the United Nations His Excellency, Dr. Joseph Christmas, inspired by the vision of Sir Robert.
“There is something really significant about the fact that we are gathered here at an old sugar estate this afternoon. But we do so in a true spirit of friendship, optimism and comradery as we honour Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw and it is significant because it was always Mr. Bradshaw’s fervent desire that the people of St.Kitts and Nevis not only work hard but that we also be full beneficiaries of our own hard work. Sir Robert Bradshaw was determined to ensure that the beauty and potential of these islands would be accessible to all of us. He wanted to end estate houses and estate properties being places of fear, dread and horror for most Kittitians and Nevisians. He wanted estate property to be seen simply as property-no more no less; just places where one form of activity or another would take place but without repressing and without representing any and all powerful and oppressive force . As a result of his sweeping vision and boundless courage that is what these islands former estate properties have now become, just properties.”
Dr. Douglas pointed out that such was just the philosophy shared by the late Dr. Christmas when he bought Dewar’s Estate property several years ago.
“He wanted it to be seen not only as a place where we can recall the repressive history that we’ve been through as a people but where today a small boy having been born in Saddlers who worked the cane fields everyday with his parents would be able to own this property that was the symbol of colonialism and the symbol of the plantocracy system that was so repressive to all of us. Today, this represents what we can achieve as ordinary people in this country; nothing is too great for us to achieve here in the land of our birth. That was the spirit of Bradshaw, the spirit of Joseph Christmas, the spirit of Douglas and all those who come after us as leaders of our great Party.”
In addressing the Tea Party and Hat Parade aspect of the commemorative event, Dr. Douglas commented:
“When we look at where we come from, we are not only mimicking those who would have their tea parties adorned the way we are today but we are saying that we can look back at that and with pride and with joy say ‘we have accomplished’.”
He added: “I am told that it was none other than Stanley Frank’s grandfather who made sure that our first National Hero got his freshly ground coffee every single morning and it was his mother Mary Jane Francis who made sure that Sir Robert received his health- restoring , health- enhancing bush tea every single evening as well. So Robert became a lover of Earl Grey teas as well. Were he still alive, he definitely would be having his own cup of tea later this evening just as we are in this moment of time.”
Dr. Douglas encouraged all to remember Sir Robert’s mom, who would have celebrated her 120th birthday three days after Sunday’s event on Wednesday 20thApril. He praised the late Mary Jane Francis as one who was instrumental in helping “to make him the man he eventually became.”
The vote of thanks was delivered by Carla and Araminta Bradshaw -Williams, granddaughters of the late Sir Robert who spoke warmly about being their genetic relation to the heroic national leader.
The young Bradshaw girls expressed gratitude to everyone who collectively helped to make that day’s event a tremendous success.