SVG ex-diplomat, receives Special Recognition Award

Cyril “Scorcher” Thomas receives award, flanked by (L-R) Arden Tannis, Dr. Arnette Tannis and NY Consul General Howie Prince.
Photo by Nelson A. King

Former St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Deputy New York Consul General and calypsonian Cyril “Scorcher” Thomas Saturday night received the “Special Recognition Award” from the Brooklyn-based St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ex-Police Association, U.S.A., Inc. at a gala banquet at Glen Terrace in Brooklyn.

Scorcher – who a few months ago was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Brooklyn-based Friends of Sion Hill – was among three other honorees at the event that also marked the ex-police group’s 37th Annual Fundraising Ball.

“When they told me that the police had issued a citation for me, I said to myself, ‘after all these years, I thought the Statute of Limitation had passed,’” said Scorcher, to laughter, after receiving the award.

Scorcher thanked, among others, the Almighty; his mother, Emily Thomas; his late step mother, Mary Neverson Morris; Neverson Morris’ sister Venus Alexander; Marcel and Cornell Browne; and the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ex-Police Association, U.S.A., Inc. for their “significant role in the development of the person who stands before you today.

“I am living proof that, if even it takes decades, they always get their man,” he said. “I often take time to remind myself that, in the best of men, there’s a little evil; and, in the worst of men, there’s a little good. Keep on watching over us, my good men.”

The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ex-Police Association, U.S.A., Inc. said the Special Recognition Award is bestowed on a non-member who has “demonstrated a passion for community service and/or to the development of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and, in particular, members of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force and/or ex-police associations, and has dedicated time, energy, financial and other personal and professional resources towards this passion.”

Brooklyn’s Celestial Funeral Home – whose manager and chief executive officer is Wilmoth Seaton, a former school teacher at home – received the Corporate Citizens Award. Jamaican Edward Hinds received the award on behalf of Seaton, who was visiting Toronto, Canada.

Founding fathers ex-prison officer, Hayward Thomas, and retired registered nurse David Alban Williams, received the Diamond Award.

Arden Thomas, the president of The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ex-Police Association, U.S.A., Inc., also chose ex-police officer Pamella Ferrari-Easter, of Canouan in the St. Vincent Grenadine islands, to receive the President Surprise Award.

“For the past 12 months, Pam has been working tirelessly to put this organization forward, resulting in increased membership and camaraderie,” Tannis said.

He also recognized the Barbados-based Caribbean Tourism Organization’s New York staffer Annette Stowe, of Bequia, presenting her a bouquet of flowers, for her continued support of the group, and for designing and producing the group’s annual journal.

New York Consul General Howie Prince and president of the Vincentian umbrella group in the US, the Brooklyn-based Council of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organizations, U.SA., Inc. (COSAGO), Laverne McDowald-Thompson, also addressed the ceremony.

About the honorees

Scorcher, who was born and raised in Sion Hill, overlooking capital city, Kingstown, before he migrated to the United States, said he always had a passion for sports, playing it “with varying degrees of success,”

He said he played Division One Basketball, was a National Volleyball player and was the first person from Sion Hill to be selected to play football (soccer) for St. Vincent and the Grenadines National Team, as a junior player and then as a senior player.

Scorcher was also a Student Teacher, a custom officer and a magistrate clerk before he migrated to the US, where he was drafted into the Army soon after arrival.

After spending two years in the US Army, 10 of which was in Vietnam, Scorcher said he worked at the US Postal Service by day and attended Brooklyn College at nights, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, a Masters of Arts degree in Urban Administration, and an Advance Degree in Educational Administration and Supervision.

Over the years, Thomas said he taught public schools in New York City, retiring in 2001. He then served as Deputy Consul General of St. Vincent and the Grenadines from 2001 to 2011.

Arden Tannis recognized Annette Stowe, Caribbean Tourism Organization New York staffer, presenting her with a bouquet of flowers for her hard work and dedication.
Photo by Nelson A. King

From an early age, Scorcher said he showed a great love for music, writing and singing numerous hits over the years.

His first recording was in 1976, with a track entitled “Wilma wok Obeah on Me,” followed by notables as “Party Fever,” “Wake up the Party,” “Phantom DJ,” “Sweetness is My Weakness,” “Fork up All the Beaches,” “I am a Darkie,” “Come St. Vincent,” “Pipe Layer” and “The Legend of Soca.”

Besides the US, Scorcher has performed, among other places, in England, Canada, Columbia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Grenada.

The Flatbush, Brooklyn-based Celestial Funeral services, Inc., which was established in 2002, and is family-owned and operated, has the distinction of having the first Vincentian-born Licensed Funeral Director, Wilmouth “Passie” Seaton, as its chief executive officer and manager.

“Our motto – ‘We serve our families with empathy and compassion’ – epitomizes the quality of service [that is rendered] to the families we serve,” said Seaton in a statement. “We meet the family where its most convenient for them, either at their home or the funeral home. All funerals are customized to meet the need of the family and depicts the life style of their loved one.

“Celestial Funeral Services, its management and staff are cognizant of the disparities that exist in many communities, especially for those of color,” he added. “For many years, we have lent our voice and resources to build, promote and create alternatives for the strengthening of the Diaspora and the betterment of the community.

“We continue to sponsor churches and various organizations in their outreach efforts to harmonize and sensitize the Diaspora and beyond,” Seaton continued. “While taking care of your lost loved one is our business, giving back to the community is our pride.”

Haywood C. Thomas, who was born in Choppins Village, on Sept. 12, 1926, moved with his parents, at 3, to Mt. Bentick, Georgetown, the island’s second largest town. His parents had sought employment in the sugarcane, arrowroot and cotton industries on the Mr. Bentick estate.

Thomas said he ever obtained an early education, disclosing that, at 10, his parents sent him to live with a “wealthy family” in Kingstown and that, on his return home two years later, he was then sent to live with another family in Rose Hall in North Leeward, where he attended school briefly for the very first time.

In 1939, when World War II started, Thomas said he went to work on the family estate, emerging from being a “child laborer” and eventually working in a bakery owned by the Catos. He said he subsequently started his own business by opening a bakery and shop in the Ratho Mill area in East St. George.

From 1964 to 1981, Thomas served as a prison officer at Her Majesty’s Prison in Kingstown, during which he was elected president of prison section of the Civil Service Association. He also served as assistant secretary in the same section.

On migration to the US in 1981, Thomas said he worked as a baker and later as a security officer, serving as a Shop Stewart and fighting for his “union comrades” until retirement in 2009.

In 1996, Thomas joined the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ex-Police Association, holding the position of chaplain up to 2016.

After graduating from the Emmanuel High School in Kingstown, Williams said he first worked as a public school teacher, then joined the Royal St. Vincent Police Force, rising to corporal.

On migration, he attended college in New York and became a registered nurse, working with Catholic Medical Charities and Kingsborough Psychiatric Hospital in Brooklyn until retirement.

Williams said he maintained contact with his former police colleagues and served as a president of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ex-Police Association, U.S.A., Inc.

“I tried my best to serve who I served,” said Williams in his acceptance speech, sitting in a wheel chair, flanked by his wife, Helen, other family members, Prince, Tannis and Joselle Thomas, who presented him with the award. “I am trying to live the best of my life.”

Alban Williams (in wheel chair), flanked by his wife, Helen, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Consul General Howie Prince and other relatives and friends.
Photo by Nelson A. King

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