BY CECELIA CAMPBELL-LIVINGSTON Observer staff reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
WHEN actor/broadcaster Charles Hyatt died in a Florida hospital on January 1, 2007, some saw it as the end of an era.
But for his son, Charles Hyatt Jr, it meant taking up the mantle of his father's humanitarian work.
The Charles Hyatt Foundation, which is over one year old, was created "to carry on my father's legacy and to give young people support throughout their sustainable development".
Elaborating, he said the foundation encourages young people interested in the entertainment industry to see it as a serious and viable career.
"We also would like for the government, corporate Jamaica, and any internationally interested entity to see our entertainment industry as advantageous and a solid and positive investment," Hyatt said.
Running the non-profit organisation does not come without challenges. Money is tight, and it is mainly fund-raising and grants that keep the foundation afloat.
Since it was established, the Hyatt Foundation has worked with the Nannyville Basic School and teamed with the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA) to pay fees for Alpha Boys' School students sitting the Royal School of Music exams.
"That project was what began our wonderful relationship with Alpha. Our most recent gift was three tickets for the boys to attend the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra's concert at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kingston," Hyatt said.
The foundation's biggest investment to date, however, has been creating the Charles Hyatt Scholarship of Excellence at the School of Drama, Edna Manley College,
The scholarship goes to a final-year student with an 'A' grade average.
"The scholarship pays for all tuition and fees for that final year as a thank you for remaining focused throughout his/her scholastic career," Hyatt explained.
For Hyatt Jr, keeping the Foundation alive stems from his father's influence on him.
"I promised him that I would keep his life's work in people's memory for as long as I live. The passion for perfection in his craft was great but to see how generous he was with passing on the knowledge, skill and opportunity to others was really a great thing," he said.
Charles Hyatt Sr was a past student of St Aloysious Boys School, St Simon's College and Theatre Royal in England. He was a staple in Jamaican theatre and a giant of Jamaican theatre. He appeared in numerous plays, including Trevor Rhone's Smile Orange and Ole Story Time.
He was also a journalist, working at the British Broadcasting Corporation, Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation and Jamaica Record.