Former diplomat pays tribute to late Vincentian legislator John Horne

The flag draped casket of the late Vincentian legislator, John Horne leaving parliament building in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Bernard Wyllie

Former Counsellor at the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Embassy in Washington, D.C. Frank Montgomery Clarke has added his voice to myriad tributes for the late Vincentian legislator John Horne.

Horne, who represented West Kingstown in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, 1984 to 2001, under the New Democratic Party (NDP) reign of former Prime Minister Sir James F. Mitchell, died on April 22. He was 76.

Horne held many portfolios including Minister of Education, Tourism, Sports, Culture and Trade.

“The Vincentian homeland is the poorer with the death of the former parliamentarian, because his activities, radius and influence occupied a large acreage in our Small Island Developing State (SIDS),” Clarke, a Washington, D.C.-based accountant, who had worked with Horne at the former Barclays Bank in Kingstown, the Vincentian capital, told Caribbean Life on Saturday, a day after Horne’s interment in Kingstown.

Clarke said he first met Horne when Clarke’s second sister, Cornelia, introduced him and his family in 1966 after a cultural production of the late Tim Daisley’s “Julius Caesar” at the old Grammar School building in Kingstown. Horne and Cornelia Clarke were both part of the cast.

“This inaugural meeting was quite impactful, because of the significant words of advice he (Horne) left with me,” Clarke said.

“He was a patriotic and multifaceted Vincentian of great range,” he added. “We can chronicle his significant contribution to culture, sports, banking and business, the Anglican community and politics.

“His cultural escapades were so numerous and varied,” Clarke continued. “But I would highlight him journeying to Union Island (in the Southern Grenadines) in the summer of 1981, while I was posted there by the then Barclays Bank, to audition candidates for the Barbados Carifesta.”

He said Horne eventually selected six members of the Union Island community to form part of the Vincentian contingent to perform their “Rain Dance” and “Big Drum” routines.

Clarke said another plank of Horne’s cultural repertoire was his “romantic relationship” with steel pan music.

“We both spent many hours on the telephone over the years breaking down the performances of his beloved Desperados from Laventille and my Massy Trinidad All Stars from the Duke street, East Dry River section of Port-of-Spain (the Trinidad and Tobago capital), along with the Vincentian rivals of Starlift and Sion Hill Euphonium,” he said.

“I can remember when he ventured into party politics and was campaigning as a rookie politician in 1984,” Clarke added. “(Alston) ‘Becket’ Cyrus’s ‘Horn for Them’ was the rallying song for his party, the New Democratic Party,” he added.

“Clearly, he and the song were quite influential in catapulting the NDP into government,” Clarke continued.

The late John Horne.
Bernard Wyllie

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