Scott of many trades

UK Barbados Nation - - NEWS - By JOHN BOYCE john­[email protected]­tion­

THE REV­E­LA­TIONS: are Lloyd Nurse, David Forde, Frank Yarde, Richard Stoute, An­thony Nurse, Ce­cil Devon­ish and Or­lando “Gabby” Scott back in the 1970s. IN 1972 HE SANG his big hit Don’t Want Nuh Young Girl. But in 1981 he mar­ried a young girl.

So, was it just “mout talk”?

“Man, she was beau­ti­ful and I could not help my­self,” Or­lando “Gabby” Scott, se­nior as­sis­tant gen­eral sec­re­tary of the Bar­ba­dos Work­ers’ Union, said while mak­ing ref­er­ence to his wife Avonda who, at the time, was a re­porter at The Ad­vo­cate.

“When I wrote the song I was not re­ally look­ing at it in too se­ri­ous a light, but while singing it at for­mer trade union­ist and Demo­cratic Labour Party Govern­ment min­is­ter Eve­lyn Greaves’ wed­ding, peo­ple fell in love with it so I pushed on with it.

The song did re­mark­ably well.”

His mu­si­cal ca­reer started with the Im­pe­ri­als,

with for­mer Caribbean Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion gen­eral man­ager Doug Hoyte on the drums. Scott went on to sing with The Rev­e­la­tions

for a num­ber of years.

He spent 11 years on the mu­si­cal scene, but al­ways had a love for jour­nal­ism.

Good grasp of English

His ca­reer in that pro­fes­sion started at the

Daily News in 1965 as a proof­reader. He then went to the sports desk in 1967, thanks to Sam Wilkin­son and Tony Cozier.

In 1968 he joined The Ad­vo­cate and said he was grate­ful to for­mer man­ag­ing ed­i­tor Robert Best, Gline Mur­ray and Tony Van­der­pool for giv­ing him that op­por­tu­nity.

“I moved up pretty quickly be­cause I had a good grasp of the English lan­guage. My life has been blessed by hav­ing good peo­ple around me.”

But there is a spe­cial place in his heart for Al Gilkes. “He is one of the finest re­porters the Caribbean has pro­duced,” Scott said in tribute.

When black Amer­i­can ac­tor Sid­ney Poitier came to Bar­ba­dos in 1970, Scott was the young re­porter as­signed to cover the event. He was over­whelmed.

“I re­mem­ber ask­ing Al what to write since, af­ter all, this was an iconic ac­tor. He asked me, ‘What did you go to the as­sign­ment for?’ I said to cover the story. He told me to go then and write it like any other story based on what hap­pened. He was so cool about it.”

Po­lice recog­nised us

Af­ter the Cubana Air­lines crash in 1976, he again had the op­por­tu­nity to work closely with Al.

The vet­eran trade union­ist, now 73, re­called that af­ter the body parts were taken from the wa­ter off the is­land’s West Coast and po­lice were leav­ing, he too started to leave.

“Al turned to me and asked, ‘Where you go­ing?’ He said that we too were ‘po­lice of­fi­cers’ and would leave with them. The po­lice only recog­nised that we were not of­fi­cers when we got to the Har­bour Po­lice Sta­tion be­cause one of our col­league’s fa­ther who was a po­lice­man recog­nised us. Al in­tended to get ev­ery piece of in­for­ma­tion be­fore re­turn­ing to the news­room.”

But Gabby said as much as there was help and guid­ance for cub re­porters, there was also a se­ri­ous level of stern­ness. He re­counted cov­er­ing a Carl­ton ver­sus Har­ri­son Col­lege foot­ball match and Tony Cozier be­ing the Sports Ed­i­tor.

“The pho­tog­ra­pher po­si­tioned him­self in the Carl­ton half, so when he got back to the of­fice and was asked by Tony as to what pic­tures he had, he told him that the foot­ball was played in the other half of the field, so he had none. I could not be­lieve it; Tony cuss he like a pi­rate.”

In 1979, he ful­filled his life­long pas­sion for trade union­ism. He joined the staff of the Bar­ba­dos Work­ers’ Union (BWU) and al­most 40 years later, he is still fight­ing for the rights of work­ers.

But this job did not come with­out its chal­lenges. “My most chal­leng­ing hour was the 1991 David Giles strike as the union took on the Tele­phone Com­pany. I worked long hours day and night as

Sir Frank and Leroy Trot­man [now Sir Roy] worked as­sid­u­ously to bring about res­o­lu­tion.”

Giles was fired for post­ing a mes­sage on the no­tice board of the Tele­phone Com­pany ex­press­ing work­ers’ feel­ings about work-re­lated is­sues. He was even­tu­ally re­in­stated.

“The BWU is the force over the last 70 years that has kept Bar­ba­dos bal­anced,” Scott said.

He was glow­ing in his praise for his for­mer boss Sir Frank.

Heavy heart

Scott was awarded the Bar­ba­dos Ser­vice Star in 2005 for his out­stand­ing work in oc­cu­pa­tional health and safety, and the Bar­ba­dos Ju­bilee Hon­our when the is­land cel­e­brated its 50th year of In­de­pen­dence in 2016.

While the fa­ther of four – Natalie, Leslie, Si­mone and Shawn – sees him­self as a dis­ci­plinar­ian, he does not be­lieve in cor­po­ral pun­ish­ment.

“All of my chil­dren have done well and they have all grown up in church and know right from wrong. There­fore I don’t have to share blows. I talk to them a lot.”

Re­flect­ing with a heavy heart on some is­sues that both­ered him in the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try, he said he was not happy with the way The Mer­ry­men and Lord Ra­dio, in par­tic­u­lar, have been treated in Bar­ba­dos.

“They have done more for Bar­ba­dos than a lot of the peo­ple who worked for the Tourist Board, and we have treated them cal­lously.”

(Pic­tures by Len­nox Devon­ish.)

OR­LANDO “GABBY” SCOTT re­lax­ing at En­ter­prise Beach, Christ Church.

From left

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