A founding member of the Virgin Gorda Easter Festival Committee who is being honoured during the festivities this year, Bernice Sprauve, has appealed for the annual Easter celebration to be preserved and continued without rancor.
She told persons at the opening of the golden anniversary of the event last evening (April 15), that the Easter festival is coming from ‘humble beginnings’, adding that she is pleased with the place it now occupies in the territory’s culture.
“Those humble beginnings transformed into what we are experiencing today, and it speaks volumes. Lots of people living and departed have made a huge contribution to this event. So it is our duty to preserve it. This will not be an easy task at times, but with the cooperation of people and the government we will have a grand legacy to pass on to future generations.”
“As an intelligent people, it is our duty to pass the baton free of rancor or any action that will destroy it,” said Sprauve, who is the last founding member of the Virgin Gorda Easter Festival Committee to be honoured with the naming of the festival village.
A confident and eloquent Sprauve, last evening, admitted that she thought she had been forgotten.
“Somehow I got lost in the shuffle and I never dreamed that would ever become reality for me. But I was pleasantly surprised when I received a call to the effect [that I would be honoured]. The only thing that came to mind was ‘Lord, did you saved me for the golden jubilee?’ You are indeed a God of miracles.”
Sprauve noted that the late Hubert Robinson O’Neal was the one who suggested that the Easter festivitties be held when he was the political representative for Virgin Gorda. The festival became reality in 1967.
“It (idea of festival) was considered to be a good idea, and a committee was formed. The committee and the community rallied together and made it a reality,” Sprauve said before she opened the festival by cutting a symbolic ribbon stretched across the stage.
This will be the ‘best’
Minister of Culture Myron Walwyn, who declared the festival open, added historical context to the anniversary being celebrated this year.
“2017 marks exactly 50 years since the start of the Easter festival. But due to the untimely passing of Honourable Hubert Robinson O’Neal in 1971, there was no festival that year. So this year is actually the 49th staging of the festival,” Walwyn noted.
He added, “I am going to make a prediction that this is going to be the best Easter festival ever held in Virgin Gorda.”
Walwyn – like other speakers at the opening of the festival – lauded Sprauve for her contribution to the event since its inception.
“I don’t think they could have found a more suitable person to name the fiftieth anniversary from,” Walwyn declared.
Premier Dr D Orlando Smith also said: “Ms Sprauve has always been and continues to be interested and enthusiastic about all things Virgin Gorda and things BVI, and of course festival and culture.”
Premier Smith, in the meantime, expressed confidence that the festival this year will be successful. “I have no doubt that this festiville will be successful,” he said.
Premier Smith stated that he was particularly impressed to have seen residents who hail from Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and other countries assisting with the Virgin Gorda festivities, especially during the food fair on Saturday.
“It gives a good feeling that everybody in Virgin Gorda is taking part in the activities of Virgin Gorda,” the premier said.
Meanwhile, political representative for Virgin Gorda Dr Hubert O’Neal, said he is pleased with the success of the festival his late father conceptualized.
“I am very proud as a Virgin Gordian that it (festival) has evolved in such a manner over all these years. May it be a joyous, peaceful, and a safe festival,” he said while he expressed gratitude to the current festival sub-committee headed by Sasha Flax.
“They have done a marvelous job this year of getting this whole celebration together. They have been through many trials and tribulations. I know Sasha has called me on several occasions with calamities after calamities. But we are here, and we had it altogether here this evening,” Dr O’Neal said.
He continued: “I want to personally thank you Sasha Flax for your effort. Don’t mind the talk; don’t mind the criticism. You are a Virgin Gordian and you can get it done, and I am proud that you are doing this for us here on Virgin Gorda.”
In addition to Bernice Sprauve and the late Hubert Robinson O’Neal, there were other persons who helped to form the Virgin Gorda Easter Festival Committee 50 years ago. They are: Andy Flax, Rupert Ephraim, Rose Gardener, and the late Ivy O’Neal.
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