I would very much like to join in a discussion which was publicised by a letter in the press proposing a name for the Community Centre being constructed in Silver Hill. I respect this initial proposal but would like to enlighten the public on another individual who I have known for many years and whose name I feel is worthy to be placed on that centre. I propose that it be named after Mr. Winston Carlisle Yearwood who is better known in Barbados as “Young Cassius Clay”.
Mr. Yearwood has been a consistent ambassador for Barbados and has lived in Silver Hill for numerous years. In his early days, he was a wharf-boy and spent most of his time diving off the ‘swing-bridge’ for coins thrown into the careenage by tourists and members of the public. His early life was difficult as he had no parental guidance and associated with what was then known as “Wild Boys”. He ended up before the courts for loitering and was sentenced to Dodds, which was then a junior penitentiary. This resulted in a complete turnaround for, despite the difficult start as a boy, he came under the tutelage of Mr. Ken Simmons who headed that institution. He got to know his children (Sir David, Peter, Jeanette, Robin and Phillip) with whom he associated. Today, we can boast of him being an ideal role model for all of us and I recommend that reading of his autobiography be compulsory, especially by teenagers who are encountering problems.
I will try and enumerate my reasons for putting forward his name for the Community Centre:
- Although poverty stricken, he received the Order Of The British Empire (OBE) from Queen Elizabeth.
- He received the Centennial Award from the Government of Barbados in 2000 because of the positive things he had done.
- He founded a sport which became known as Roller-Hockey in which hockey was played with teams on roller skates. He acted as a coach for the teams.
- He coached women’s cricket teams, before it became a serious sport internationally, in the 1980’s. He must be complemented for providing this avenue of encouragement which led to women feeling liberated and having equal freedom to our popular male cricketers. We can now boast of our West Indies Female cricket team which has surpassed its male counterpart and brought home the world cup in 2016 with a superb performance. I hope their determination continue in his honour.
- Around the same time, he introduced American Football and coached 4 teams to participate.
- He has been an athlete and became one of our best boxers who won 2 championship belts while representing Barbados in this sport. He fought 111 fights of which 17 were international throughout the Caribbean and Canada. Of these, he won 15 and lost 2 of which one was to Curtis “Killer” Miller whom Cassius has previously trained.
- He became known as a boxer during the day and an entertainer by night.
- He was also a body builder and in his later years, he placed his exercise equipment on the south side of the Garrison for persons who were unable to attend private gyms to benefit themselves by having a turn on the machines.
- He has assisted the youth in his areas to play sport by providing netball and basketball hoops.
- He provided Christmas gifts for poor children via his request for donations from sponsors and from his own pocket at Christmas time. He wanted the children to have the Christmas presents of which he was deprived as a boy.
- He was a fantastic singer and older Bajans will remember his hit – “Sweeter Than A Snow-cone”. I believe he will now be singing that in heaven.
- He also performed as a “fire – eater” at many floorshows across the country and while working with Jolly Roger (now Tall Ships) where he enjoyed showing off his entertainment versatility to both tourists and locals.
- Some of his floor shows involved him balancing ladders in his mouth and on occasion his young son (Akil) was at the top of the ladder.
- He has performed with the Merry Men on many occasions.
- He trained some children to perform as a band by teaching them to play musical instruments and I was fortunate to have hired this band (called “EGGS”) to perform on many occasions. Most of the group were affiliated to him and I was impressed with his son who became the drummer of the band at age 6.
- He is one of few Barbadians listed on the internet at https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1CHZL_enBB748BB748&ei=dIepW5q0CsWszwKy9pWoBw&q=winston+yearwood+barbados&oq=Winston+Yearwood+&gs_l=psy-ab.1.2.0j0i22i30k1l2.13930.20515.0.247184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11.1443.5j8.13.0….0…1c.1.64.psy-ab..0.17.1454…0i67k1j0i131k1j0i131i67k1j0i131i10k1j0i10k1.0.ryu3gX5erGc
- He taught himself to paint and received great reviews while hosting an exhibition in the Grand Salle of the Central bank on one occasion. He is now a good friend of Virgil Broodhagen, a well renowned artist.
- He is also a comedian with a wit that shows no boundaries.
- He was a versatile entertainer who was better known for his fire eating, walking on broken glass and singing a variety of songs.
- In his later years he became a tour guide for Adventureland Tours which was owned by Mr. Dean Straker of Spice & Co. His jeep was always in great demand by tourists who had heard of his reputation.
- Despite all these achievements and strength, he became ill during a tour to Canada when he took his young band, “Eggs”, to perform and showcase Barbados. He was in a diabetic coma for a long period and after his recovery, he continued to put country before self.
I close by requesting that this ambassador, who has been my true friend for over 20 years and who has loved his country on and off stage, while helping to shape the lives of many of our Barbados youth with a healthy caring spirit, should have the Silver Hill Community Centre named after him. I speak on his behalf for he was a poor wayward youth whose struggles have been documented in books, but a man who has risen to become a Barbadian icon.
- Dr Victor Eastmond GCM.