A fi­nal farewell to Brian “Ras Ipic” McDon­ald

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

Sportscaster Brian McDon­ald, 43, was laid to rest fol­low­ing a fu­neral ser­vice on Fri­day af­ter­noon at a fa­mil­iar place, the Beause­jour Cricket Ground, where he cov­ered not only cricket but foot­ball as part of the Black­heart Pro­duc­tions Man­age­ment Team.

Al­though Brian is no longer with us, hav­ing passed away Jan­uary 17 in Soufriere, those who loved and re­spected him, from govern­ment of­fi­cials down to the com­mon man, left us with mem­o­ries to last a life­time at Mon­day’s Re­mem­brance Cer­e­mony at the Na­tional Cul­tural Cen­tre.

Say­ing good­bye to some­one loved and cher­ished, like he was, is never easy. How­ever, the fond mem­o­ries and tributes - and there were many - from friends, of­fi­cials and fam­ily made it eas­ier to bear.

Brian was por­trayed time and time again as a re­spected, ded­i­cated and jovial sports jour­nal­ist with a wicked sense of hu­mour. His pop­u­lar­ity spanned the length and breadth of Saint Lu­cia, to places I’ve never heard of. That’s just the tip of the ice­berg for, as one speaker said, “He touched the lives of many, many peo­ple around the world.”

His col­league at Ra­dio St Lu­cia (RSL), Keisha St He­len, who, along with Shane Ross, chaired the pro­ceed­ings, fit­tingly re­named the Re­mem­brance Cer­e­mony “A Me­mo­rial Cel­e­bra­tion” and that’s ex­actly what it was from start to fin­ish.

It was stand­ing room only at the Na­tional Cul­tural Cen­tre. Among the at­ten­dees were fam­ily mem­bers, Min­is­ter of Youth De­vel­op­ment and Sports, Shawn Ed­ward; Min­is­ter for In­for­ma­tion and Broad­cast­ing, Dr James Fletcher; Leader of the Op­po­si­tion, Gale Rigob­ert; Board of Di­rec­tors Man­age­ment and Staff of RSL 97; Mem­bers of the Iyanola Coun­cil for the Ad­vance­ment of Rasta­fari, of Youth and Sports Groups, Black­heart Pro­duc­tions, and the St Lu­cia Am­a­teur Box­ing As­so­ci­a­tion where Brian had served as Se­cond Vice Pres­i­dent, and the me­dia.

Chair­man of RSL, Joseph Maxwell, said: “Brian was a sportscaster par ex­cel­lence. He gave his life to sports and, of course, he got in­volved in the Reg­gae Vibes pro­gramme. The life change came about when he spent some time study­ing in Ja­maica. He came back with those locks that he promised his mother he would cut off the next week. Of course, he did not cut them off un­til his death.”

On Mon­day at RSL, the day af­ter Brian died, Maxwell de­scribed how: “Staff were gath­ered around talk­ing about the life of Brian. Tears were com­ing from big men who you would think would be solid in their boots.”

Speak­ing on be­half of the RC Boys’ class of 1984, St Mary’s Col­lege class of 1989 and Sir Arthur Lewis Com­mu­nity Col­lege of 1991, life­long friend and for­mer class­mate Irvine Springer shed some light on Brian’s early life.

Springer re­called that from day one Brian had wanted to be a sports com­men­ta­tor. He re­vealed that dur­ing read­ing ses­sions at school, Brian was cau­tioned many times by his teacher “to stop read­ing like you’re read­ing the sports news.”

Springer shared that his chum would con­stantly mimic well-known cricket com­men­ta­tor Joseph “Reds” Per­re­ria and would read a sim­ple para­graph as if it was the sports news.

Keba Taliam of RSL ad­mired Brian’s worth ethic, ded­i­ca­tion and com­mit­ment to do­ing things right with­out any fan­fare.

“As a work col­league Brian can best be de­scribed as an unas­sum­ing gi­ant,” said Taliam. “A man who was se­cure enough in him­self, to be con­tent with re­main­ing on the pe­riph­ery of the spot­light when many seek to bask in it, while ex­pend­ing ev­ery ef­fort to­wards per­form­ing at his best.”

Chair­man of the Iyanola Coun­cil for the Ad­vance­ment of Rasta­fari, Henry Pierre, af­ter ex­press­ing the coun­cil’s com­bined sym­pa­thy to Brian’s fam­ily, said: “As most Saint Lu­cians know, Brian hosted the Reg­gae Vibes pro­gramme which was pop­u­lar all around Saint Lu­cia. Dur­ing the pro­gramme he was ex­tremely help­ful in as­sist­ing the coun­cil with the pub­lic­ity of most of our ma­jor ac­tiv­i­ties and events and for that we will be for­ever thank­ful.”

Pres­i­dent of the Me­dia As­so­ci­a­tion of St Lu­cia, Clin­ton Reynolds, de­scribed Brian as be­ing many things to many peo­ple. Clin­ton re­called the good old days he had at RSL with Brian and said: “He be­came a pil­lar of strength at Ra­dio St Lu­cia for some 25 years.”

He con­tin­ued: “Brian was smart; he was funny, as­tute and friendly but ex­tremely shy. His thoughts were be­hind the mi­cro­phone and once he was there he was at home and in full com­mand.”

A man for all sea­sons is how Min­is­ter Fletcher char­ac­terised Brian. “When you hear of the his­tory of Ra­dio St Lu­cia, there are some names that come to mind like Bar­bara Jacobs Small, Mar­garet Robert Steel, An­drew Vaughn Noel, but the name Brian McDon­ald, I think, is as in­deli­bly etched in the walls of Ra­dio St Lu­cia as any one of the be­fore men­tioned.”

Min­is­ter Fletcher paid Brian the supreme com­pli­ment say­ing: “Brian re­ally epit­o­mised ex­cel­lence. He be­longed to an era that un­for­tu­nately is dy­ing; that era of ra­dio when peo­ple un­der­stood the im­por­tance of ra­dio; the im­por­tance of de­scrib­ing a story to peo­ple so that those who could not see would be able to pic­ture what was tak­ing place. It didn’t mat­ter if he was talk­ing about a sport­ing event or ca­lypso show.”

Min­is­ter Fletcher, who is a reg­gae fan, had ex­pressed a de­sire to join Brian on the pop­u­lar Reg­gae Vibes and re­grets never fol­low­ing up on it.

Sec­re­tary Gen­eral of the St Lu­cia Olympic Com­mit­tee Inc (SLOC Inc), Al­fred Em­manuel, spoke of Brian be­ing man­ager of sev­eral box­ing del­e­ga­tions com­pet­ing over­seas. He men­tioned that at the time of his pass­ing, Brian was in dis­cus­sion with SLOC Inc pre­par­ing for an Olympic qual­i­fier in Ar­gentina.

Fol­low­ing a tear­ful ren­di­tion of “Gone too Soon” by Linda “Choco­late” Berthia, Pres­i­dent of the St Lu­cia Am­a­teur Box­ing As­so­ci­a­tion and Black­heart Pro­duc­tions CEO, David “Shakes” Christo­pher, ap­peared at the podium. Christo­pher is a close friend and busi­ness as­so­ciate who is nor­mally never lost for words. Fol­low­ing a brief open­ing state­ment he told the au­di­ence: “Af­ter so many things have been said this evening, I am go­ing to change my own pre­sen­ta­tion: freestyle.” With that in mind, Christo­pher called on stage, friends and as­so­ciates who were in Soufriere the week­end that Brian passed. They re­lated the fi­nal mo­ments spent with their beloved com­rade.

Min­is­ter Ed­ward re­lated that Brian was a con­stant vis­i­tor to his con­stituency, not al­ways work-re­lated, and was par­tic­u­larly in­ter­ested in hav­ing roads re­paired in cer­tain parts of Mabouya Val­ley.

“One thing about Brian is that he re­ally was the voice of the marginal­ized,” said Ed­ward. “I am not a me­dia ex­pert but I know lots of clubs and sports coun­cils that don’t have very good PR pro­grammes re­lied on Brian to get their sto­ries out.”

It is noted that Brian was well-known ev­ery­where in Saint Lu­cia and of­ten de­clared he had a visa to go any­where there. The min­is­ter ac­cen­tu­ated that even more, ex­plain­ing that on tele­vi­sion you can as­so­ciate a voice with a face but not when it comes to ra­dio.”

“Brian was the ex­cep­tion,” said Ed­ward. “He was known in Vieux Fort, Mon Re­pos, the Mabouya Val­ley, Roseau, Choiseul etc. Just name it, peo­ple were able to iden­tify with Brian McDon­ald.”

The fi­nal speaker, Earl Bous­quet, who is a cousin of the de­ceased, spoke of Brian’s fam­ily in glow­ing terms. He ex­pressed his sad­ness that the fam­ily had to en­dure yet an­other loss with the pass­ing of Brian’s mother, father, brother and sis­ter all in a re­cent short pe­riod of time.

On be­half of the fam­ily Bous­quet thanked ev­ery­one for their pres­ence and asked them to “Share the fond mem­o­ries of Brian with the hope that his legacy is one that will en­cour­age us in the me­dia to con­tinue where he left off.”

With that the pro­ceed­ings came to a close. How­ever, in mem­ory of the late Brian “Ras Ipic” McDon­ald it’s ‘game, set and match’ - a fa­mil­iar phrase used sev­eral times by Brian to end his sports­cast.

Govern­ment of­fi­cials in­clud­ing Op­po­si­tion Leader Gale Rigob­ert, Sports Min­is­ter Shawn Ed­wards and Sen­a­tor James Fletcher

were among the guests at Mon­day’s trib­ute.

Some of Brian’s sports col­leagues in­clud­ing David “Shakes” Christo­pher

(at podium) paid trib­ute at the Na­tional Cul­tural Cen­tre on Mon­day.

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