Monday, 21 January 2013

Errol Barrow Day

Today is Errol Barrow Day.  It's a holiday here.  Lots of events planned to celebrate the "Father of our Independence".
The beaches will be packed with families having picnics, and folks playing beach cricket, and thoroughly enjoying the waves and the sunshine.  Some of them not even bothered about the true meaning of the day....just another day off from the grind of work.
Errol Walton Barrow (1920 - 1987) The Father of Barbados' Independence Statue
9ft tall bronze statue in Independence Square weighs 2000lbs and was sculpted by St. Lucian sculptor Ricky George

 Errol Walton Barrow was born on January 21, 1920 in the northern parish of St.Lucy.  Upon finishing school, he joined the Royal Air Force, where he rose to the rank of Flying Officer. After his war tour of duty, he opted to study law in the UK. Having earned his degree in 1949, he returned to the island to practice.
His political career began in 1951 when he joined the Barbados Labour Party (BLP), where he was elected to Parliament that same year.
He became dissatisfied with many of the BLP's policies and programs, and in 1955 he led others to form the Democratic Labour Party (DLP).
On December 4, 1961, he became Premier of Barbados after his DLP party won a decisive victory in the general elections. During his tenure, he instituted a program of public works, made secondary education free in all government schools, made sure that agricultural workers received better wages and working conditions, and instituted the construction of many new  industries.

He was the guiding force during Barbados' transition from British colony to independent status.
Barbados became independent on November 30, 1966 .
He became the nation's first Prime Minister.
He was a dedicated believer in regional integration, and spearheaded the foundation for the Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA).  In 1968, he was responsible for Barbados's admission into the Organization of American States (OAS). In 1973, CARIFTA became the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) when Barbados, Guyana,  Trinidad and Jamaica signed the Treaty of Chaguaramas to improve political and economic relations between the English-speaking islands of the Caribbean.
In 1976, he lost in the general elections when the BLP regained power under J.M.G.M "Tom" Adams.
As a leader of the Opposition, Barrow was a forceful and vocal opponent, especially voicing his dissatisfaction of the 1983 US invasion of Grenada.
In May 1986, he was re-elected Prime Minister in a landslide victory in which his DLP party won 24 of 27 seats in the House of Assembly - the largest ever margin of victory in the history of Barbados.
He died at his home on June 1, 1987 before he completed all his hopes and dreams for his beloved island.
His face is depicted on our Barbados $50 dollar bill.
A down to earth man of the people, he was in no way pretentious, and even though a Prime Minister did not surround himself with extreme luxuries. He did his own driving and shopping, and it was not surprising to run into him in the supermarket while buying groceries. Friendly, approachable, and filled with humility, he hardly ever utilized his state appointed chauffeur or bodyguards.
Affectionately known as "The Skipper" or "Dipper", he loved sailing and cooking.  He wrote a cookbook (with Kendal A Lee), "Privilege - Cooking in the Caribbean" which adorns my bookcase with several other cookbooks.

There is also a community park bearing his name which opened on November 28th 1987 to honour his memory.

He was posthumously declared a National Hero, and his birthday today is celebrated as a national holiday.

Today, I am thankful that I live on an island that is war-free, I am not terrorized for my religious beliefs, and I am privy to free health and education, if I so desire.
I will enjoy the day as a grateful national with pride.
I may even take in some of the round the island festivities like this one which takes place every year in his honour.

Mr. Barrow was a founding member of The Barbados Cruising Club which was founded in 1957, with its aim to make sailing available to all Barbadians.
He  never owned his own boat, but his love for sailing was well known.
The Barbados Cruising Club in conjunction with Mount Gay Rum commemorates "The Father of Our Nation" and founder of the club by hosting the annual Round Barbados Race on January 21st, Errol Barrow's birthday holiday.

As a matter of interest: Mount Gay Rum is the finest, oldest brand of rum in existence, and  has been produced in Barbados since 1703. Linked from its inception to the sailing world, it is the brand loved by all who love the sea. As a result, the company proudly sponsors over 120 regattas around the globe.

 Happy Errol Barrow Day Barbados!

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day to my US friends and family!!


  1. No wonder Barbados is proud of him. What a wonderful man. Enjoy the celebrations.

    1. Would you believe I spent the entire day working on outdoor projects? I did not leave home at all. That's what happens when you go to do one thing, and then move on to another and another. At least my relandscaping project is coming along nicely.

  2. He sounds like an amazing man. Would that more politician - nay, more people - were like him.

    1. Amazing he was, and yes, we should have more like him. I do believe that he tosses in his grave when he sees what his political comrades have stooped to these days.

  3. Hi Virginia - I am a reporter at ITV in Englad. I'm doing a piece about an exhibition at a local museum that features Errol Barrow. Here is some information from a local newspaper:
    I wonder if it might be OK to use your photograph of his headstone in the report?
    My email is
    Many thanks


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