Thelma Wilson-Tucker was born the eldest child of William Francis Wilson 3rd. and Ismay Winifred Rebecca Dill- Wilson. Her early education was at the Franklyn Lodge. This was a historical note for her family as it was later discovered that Frankly lodge was owned and built but her great great grand father Enfield Dill. Thelma later attended Central School .
While a teenager it was discovered that she loved to sing and was gifted with a beautiful voice. She sang in the St. Monica’s choir and joined the Nellie Swan’s singing group entertaining in various churches around the Island of Bermuda with her cousin Esther Whitter-Burgess, Joseph Richards; David Ifor Nisbett and Thomas Nisbett who later became Canon of the Anglican Church. They were paid 2/- shillings for their services and 1/2 of that went to the building fund of the St. Monica’s hall. Being a very sociable person Thelma won a popularity contest at the Unity Patio In Pembroke . The urge to sing continued to nip at her and still in her early teens she sang at Frascati Hotel which became the Coral Island Club and with the St. Monica’s Negro Spiritual Trio on the Sunday Amateur Hour. As her singing voice matured so did Thelma and she had the opportunity to work with her Uncle Leverson (Louie) Wilson himself a North Village Bandsman and saxophonist in the Mark Williams band at the St. George’s Club . There she received her first pay of 10/- . She continued to excel in her career and was noticed by a visiting musician . She was offered the chance to travel with him but being under age she needed the permission of both parents her father refused his permission. Thelma was crushed but she did not let this hamper her dreams. She studied tap dancing, played the cocktail drums and learned the accordion .She got the opportunity to work at the Old Hamilton Hotel with several White bands at the Naval Annex Base in Southampton Bermuda which included such persons as Freddie Chapman, Eddie Whilsteen. She had the great privilege of performing at N.O.Base with Tobby Chippa’s band in shows titled ‘a Thousand and one nights and Solomon and the Seven Veils.
In 1949 she joined the Sidney Bean Trio and was the first female to sing during college week season. In 1950 she joined Philip Dublin and the Dublineers staying with them for seven years singing at the Belmont and ABC club. As her career progressed she sang with Al Harris, Ted Bassett and Gladwin ( Rags) Richardson at the Mid-Ocean Club and Loyalty Inn. She became classed as the Sarah Vaughn and Lena Horne of Bermuda.She admired Ella Fitzgerald and Nancy Wilson were some of her idols. She met some well-known people in the music field during her career among them Nancy Wilson, Dionne Warwick Arthur Prysock and Louie Armstrong. After 25 years in the music field she retired. and worked for a while in the well-known A S Cooper Department store. She was an avid gardener winning prizes for her lovely Violets.
Thelma received the Bermuda Musicians Varity Artist Award and was honoured at the Ambassadors of song in 2006 She was honoured among five female Divas in 2008 by Dale Butler.And inducted into the music hall of fame in 2010. Thelma lived her dream to the fullest and before her demise said ‘I’ve lived a good and full life. She was a treasure that will live in the hearts of her family,friends and Bermudian Community forever.
As we look back over the sands of time one can’t help but remember some of the most notable teachers of our era. Margaret Godwin was such a teacher. Short in stature but very powerful in her contribution to her community.
Her early education was at the Tills Hill School than Central School(Victor Scott) She also took extra lessons with Mr. Victor Outerbridge to obtain her teachers certificate.
She began her early teaching career at the Cripple gate School in 1947 where she remained until 1951. She then did a short stint at the Harrington Sound School. Her final placement was at Central School where she worked until 1990.
Ms. Godwin did not hesitate to give of her self and knowledge. In her community she worked as a youth leader.
To her credit: In 1984 she was recognized for her work at the Cripple Gate School .
In 1987 she received a plaque from the Ministry of Education for valuable Service.
In 1991 a certificate of Appreciation from Bermuda reading Council and in 1996 Maritime Regional Committee certificate for dedicated service.
She was a leader of the Bermuda Girls in Training for 50 years and for this she not only received a plaque but also a letter of honourable mention from the House of assembly. She was a member of the reading Association.
Ms. Godwin was an ardent worshiper of the Wesley Methodist Church in Hamilton and Emmanuel Methodist in Southampton. She braved the work and completed the task. Well done to a good and faithful servant.
Community & Church Worker
Mrs. Hyacinth Hughes Jones was one of the most ambitious and happy workers in the community one would have the pleasure to meet. Affectionately called ‘Hy’ by her closest friends she used her entrepreneurial skills to her advantage.
She had a charming personality and deep interest in the lives of others.
Hy developed her skill as a cook once she realized she had to feed a large family and always had invited guest in her home.
This flicked a little voice in her head maybe she should open up her own guest house and open a guest house she did. With a no-nonsense attitude, assisted by her father henry James Hughes who was an architect and building contractor she built on to her home to accommodate both family and friends coming to visit from overseas. Interestingly the guest house got its name from both her and her husband as people called him Everoy and not his given name so the name stood as HI-Roy Guest House
Hyacinth and Everard worked their guest house and made it a success. He was a Jazz lover but this didn’t stop him from being an expert baker. Hyacinth spent her early school days at Central school. She became a Brownie, Girl Guide, and later a Ranger. She prided her self on being a good student and as such she became a monitor in her class and house captain of her school sports team. She was spiritually inspired by the strong guidance of her father who was a Salvation Army Officer.
In her teen age years she worked as a Book binder at the Bermuda Press but this was only for a short period she later became a manager of the Kenwood Club where she worked for 15 years. Hyacinth’s ancestral line was from Saint Eustatius a Dutch country near St. Kitts. She was proud of that fact of her heritage. Her Granny Jane Sarah Elizabeth Hughes and grand father John Hughes were natives of that country and her granny was known for her famous ‘S’ cake, which persons from all over Bermuda would come to purchase. She kept the recipe for that cake a life long secret.
Hyacinth readily expressed her love for the church and became an ardent worshiper at St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church. She served as a Steward, President of the Mosley Club for progress, an overseer for the store house of God. She used her guest house to host many occasions for the church.In the community she served on the Pembroke Parish Council for several years this gave her the added joy of looking out for the seniors and needy of the parish. Her favorite saying was “leave it in my hands” and guaranteed anything left to her capable hands would turn out well. Hyacinth was a class act with a warming smile and giving heart. Bermuda lost a true community hero on her passing but God gained an ardent and faithful worker.
Her legacy was her love for music
Mrs. Marguerite Bassett Place was the daughter of Mr. John G. Bassett a well-known business man of his time. Marguerite was a great contributor to the community of Pembroke Parish. Much of her work revolved around the youth in the community. She was an ardent worker at St. Paul’ A. M. E. Church in Bermuda. Affectionately known as “Mama Megs” she was highly respected among her counterparts.
She was a member of the St. Paul Gospel Choir and one could often hear her soprano voice ringing out among the other choir members. She had a constant smile and was among the first persons to join the Choir which was organized by the Rev. E. N. Thornley. While serving on the Conference Board of Christian Education of the Church she became the Directress of the Allen Camp for several years.She later became a Junior Choir Director a position she held for 20 years. She was a writer and produced several skits. Her most notable work was seen in the Women’s Temperance Union.
In 1989 she was chosen as the first black president of the World Women’s Christian Temperance Union. She was proposed by the Australian delegation to run as first vice president in 1991-92 Conference. In June 1992 she was elected the fourth president of the World’s Christian Temperance Union in Sweden. She was a recipient of the Sojourner Truth Award in 1993 from the Bermuda Business and Professional Women’s Club. In June 1998 she received the M.B.E. from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth as a member of the British Empire.
Well done Mama Megs” May your legacy always be remembered.
BERMUDA BENEVOLENT ASSOCIATION: It would be interesting to find out just how many of our young Bermudians know about the Bermuda Benevolent Association. It was several years ago that I myself was made aware of it and how fascinating it was to find out the names of so many Bermudian families that migrated to other parts of the world and especially the United States. Interestingly the first name came to the fore was that of the Founder of the Bermuda Benevolent Association Bermudian Clarence William Robinson. Though his foresight the foundation of this Association was laid. Though his influence many well-known compatriots became sincere, faithful and useful members. He served as President of the Association for ten years and six years as the chairman of the Trustee Board as the organization grew in strength and membership.
This was not the only contributions of Mr. Robinson. He served as a lay reader of the Protestant Episcopal Diocese of New York for twenty-seven years. He served eighteen years as lay Chaplain of the Riverside Orphan Home and organized the Chorus Club which raised funds for the benefit of the Children of Riverdale. He dedicated lots of his time to support the child Welfare and Police Athletic activities.
Mr. Robinson passed away in April 1938 on a visit to his home here in Bermuda. Bermudians in American should always remember the contributions of Brother Clarence William Robinson and say thank God for his vision. As should Bermudians in his homeland have the desire to learn about the contributions made by our fellow Bermudians from years gone by.
THE BERMUDA BENEVOLENT ASSOCIATION : from my research of it would make any Bermudian proud to be associated with the organization. In 1997 it entered its Second Century of service.
At the end of the 1800s, many Bermudians were seeking to broaden their horizons and migrated in large numbers to what they refer to as the land of opportunity. New York, Boston, Philadelphia. Pre-eminent amongst them were Clarence W. Robinson, George L. Joell and William A Jones. They met in New York and discussed the idea of forming a Society of Bermudians. The result of their collective efforts was the formation in 1887 of the Bermuda Benevolent Association. Brother Robinson was the moving spirit . Described as a man of Sterling Character he led this Association through its formative years. Early officers were George L Joell as First President and he served until 1899; Edward R. Darrell, Treasurer, Miss Elmyra Caisey, Recording Secretary and Mr. Robinson filling the position as Financial Secretary until 1909 when he took over the position as President untill 1919. Research shows that under his leadership the Association grew in strength, prestige and service. Several other Bermudians served in significant roles in the Association and held membership. Such persons as Elton E. Bean who served as President for forty-seven years and sixty-nine years of membership. He was one of the first persons to meet Ms.Marjorie Bean(who acquired the status of Dame) on her way to Wilberforce University in 1928. Some other members were C. Gerald Butterfield, Esten Curtis, Frederick Key who served at one time in the Independent Order of Oddfellows in Bermuda. The Association was incorporated in 1920; it purchased its home and Headquarters in 1932 at 402 West 146th Street; and burned its mortgage in 1947; formed a Juvenile Branch in 1932 and a Young Adults group in 1955. They didn’t stop there; before the event of free education in Bermuda, a scholarship to the Berkeley Institute was established and a substantial donation was made towards the establishment of a Science Department; The Association became a Life Member of the National Advancement of Coloured People; they setup an investment Committee in 1955 to prepare themselves for any future financial assistance they may need. Interesting to note was the large role the Association played in both overseas States and Bermuda. Amongst some events of the Association as it travelled through Milestone after Milestone are many noteworthy contributions. The Association contributed to many well-known Charitable Organizations. Their mandate was similar to that of the many Orders of Friendly Societies here in Bermuda. They took care and assisted families during hard times and burials. Contributions were made annually to Packwood Home, Matilda Smith Williams Seniors Home and Pembroke Rest Home . They contributed to A. Copeland Simmons Scholarship Fund of Allen Temple AME Church Somerset all located here in Bermuda. With many of their membership it showed they may have gone of in search of greener pastures but they never forgot their roots. Like many organizations they struggle to keep their dream alive with a connection for Bermudians and non-Bermudians living in overseas lands.This seems to be taking place with many of our black institutions world-wide. Yet we can be assured that as Bermudians we can boast of an Association and Historical connection to our many ancestors,brothers and sisters and give thanks for the foresight of the Founders of this Organization and their contributions so many years ago to our History.
On Thursday 16th. August 2012 the Bermuda Friendly Societies Association Celebrated it 9th. Annual Sportsmanship Award. This event held at the Manchester Unity Hall on the corner of Victoria and Union Streets is hosted each year to keep to the fore the tenets of Cupmatch and the vast history behind its beginnings and the organizations that were responsible. Coming out of the idea of the Friendly Societies Council which operated until the late 1960’s the name was changed and Re-established in 2000 by Sister Joy Wilson-Tucker, Brothers Boyd Smith, Calvin Christopher, Earlston Tuzo. Early membership included Sister Valeria Tuzo, Brothers Stanford Hart, Donald Rhoda, Calvin Minors and Shane Kelly. Out of this seven lodges combined and became the Bermuda Friendly Societies Association. They are Loyal Mayflower Lodge, Flower of the day Lodge,Princess Royal Union Lodge, Somers Pride of India Lodge, Alexandrina Lodge, Household of Ruth and Loyal Irresistible Lodge. Our aim each year is to recognize a cup match player that displays good sportsmanship throughout the two-day classic. Once chosen he is awarded with A shield, Emancipation cup, the Clarence Darrell Cup,donated by former Premier Dr. Ewart Brown in memory of his grandfather Bro. Clarence Darrell, a keepsake cup and certificate among other gifts or donations. In the past we have recognized Clay Smith, Stephen Kelly, O.J.Pitcher,Janeiro Tucker Etc. We have had some outstanding speakers and presenters and having the sports ministers and other dignitaries attend makes the night even more outstanding as they show their interest in this cultural event. This years recipient was Mr. Glen Smith Blakeney. The programme hosted by the Association has a member from each lodge participating in the actual ceremony. The welcome, prayer, blessing, scripture, caption of the cupmatch history, guest speaker and presenter. The event on Thursday evening was full of excitement as we had two great cricketers one from the East Mr Leroy Tubby Richardson our speaker and from the West Mr. John Tucker our presenter. They gave us an ear full of history of their lives as sport personalities and cricket in general and when we reached the words of encouragement and guest remarks they expressed their surprise and pleasure at such an informative event. This year for the first time younger Sisters of the Household of Ruth took to the stage and the welcome was given by Sister Wendy Frith, the history was read by Sister Donna Smith . Sister Lynn Wilson gave a beautiful prayer followed by the blessing and Provincial Grand Master Sister Sylvia Lightbourne read the Scripture. Brothers Kyle Bridgewater, Norbert Simmons and Stanford Hart carried the rank as elder stalwarts assisting throughout the programme and Brother Michael Bradshaw carried the task as the MC. Cameras flashed and the hall beautifully displayed the team colours of red and blue and blue and blue. Balloons and miniature crochet cricket bats made by Sister Lynn Wilson and an exquisite centre piece of similar colours graced the donation table. There was plenty of fresh fruits and veggies and cool drinks, cake and sandwiches for all. Mr. Tubby Richardson brought some of his pictures of past cricket and members and guest shared in the excitement of viewing these while being refreshed. The room buzzed with excitement. At the end of the day it was a well attended fun-filled and beautiful event. If you’ve never attended this event prepare for next year as it will be our tenth anniversary and the celebration will be even better.
Well Done. We hold high the legacy that our forefathers left us and we will do our share in preserving this part of our history. We have earned the right to hold the banner high.We await with bated breath until next year to see who our next recipient will be.
Well we did it! On Sunday 15th. July 2012 we the officers of the Bermudian Heritage Association hosted our first Mary Prince Tea. We feel duly proud to say it was a great success. It turned out to be a beautiful afternoon after much doubt and dark clouds. The setting overlooking the inlet Bay from Davenport Park in St. George’s added to the event. We catered to near 90 persons. Each guest was invited to sign the special guest book which will be kept especially for the next Mary Prince Tea which we hope can become an annual event .The menu consist of old-time sandwich ideas such as egg, turkey tuna and peanut butter and Jelly, Oatmeal cookies, Salt crackers and cheese and Gingerbread cup cakes with old-time custard. Hot tea , cold ice tea and plenty of cold water. A large applesauce birthday cake. The highlight of the programme was the brief song and poetic word on the life of Mary Prince written by Joy Wilson-Tucker and performed by Cherie Bean as soloist and Joy Wilson-Tucker the poet. The welcome was extended by Ms.Violet Brangman the prayer and blessing by Twilton Hardtman and the vote of thanks by Ms. Louise Tannock.The executive members Marion Hayward Nancy Hooper, Lynel Furbert, Boyd Smith, Lynn Wade, Cherie Bean and Myself did an excellent job of seeing to it that our guest were quickly fed. Goody party bags were handed to each guest as they left the event and were invited to view the museum exhibits which has been updated in many areas. Specially included was a silent auction of a Historic Apron donated to the Association for this purpose and was nicely auctioned off for a reasonable return and included with that the history of the apron. A new tradition was also included by the association and a toast was proposed to the newest hero our dear sister Mary Prince. We were graced with the presence of the Premier designate Ms. Jennifer Smith. Minister Walter Roban,Ms. Lovitta Foggo, Mr. Kim Swan Opposition UBP, Former Premier Dr. Ewart Brown and Mrs. Wanda H Brown and the Mayor of St. George’s Mr. Kenneth Bascome. We were indeed pleased to have the attendance of many members of the association and invite friends. To host a tea in the memory of Mary Prince was a proud but bitter-sweet moment when we realize the pain and treatment Mary endured and because of it we now can lived a reasonably free life. We will continue to research and talk about not just the life of Mary but all Bermudian slaves so that our history will be told and understood. It was not an easy path, life and we should not be ashamed to acknowledge that this is our history. Be sure to visit the Bermudian Heritage Museum and learn these stories. We also exhibit items on more modern history come to the museum a high school of learning and all it will cost you is $4.00 entrance fee and time to read and digest. We have now become associated with the ADHT The African Diaspore Group and also the Community of Cultural Affairs and work along with the Bermuda historic Museum. Don’t hesitate to join us via face book or as a member in residence. We look forward to hearing from you.