Omar and the Queen

Bashco boss remembers Elva

BY RICHARD JOHNSON
Observer senior reporter
johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, October 21, 2018

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The funeral service for comedienne and media personality Elva Ruddock has been set for Saturday, November 10 at the Karl Hendrickson Auditorium at Jamaica College in St Andrew.

The Jamaica Observer understands that in keeping with her wishes, there will be no wake/nine night. However, a celebrating her life party will be held immediately following the thanksgiving service.

Following Ruddock's death on October 7 came the expected groundswell of emotion as friends and associates recalled the life and times of the effervescent character that she was. It has been two weeks since her death due to lupus, and among those who are still trying to come to terms with her passing is Bashco's Omar Azan.

The duo have become a household name thanks to their work on the televised infomercial for the local dry goods store. Ruddock had been part of the weekly programme since it began airing on local television nine years ago.

“The show started with Elva and Denise Hunt... they were a dynamic duo. We created scenarios where they would be shopping for a friend, and both had the ability to speak and offered well-rounded opinions so it worked. That was in 2009. The show began to evolve and Denise was no longer available. At first I was just brought in because of my understanding of the stock and products, but from 2011-12 we quickly realised that we were on to something,” Azan told the Sunday Observer.

“The truth is our partnership on screen worked far better than we could have possibly imagined, and that was due in large part to who Elva was. She made the show very Jamaican. She took whatever it was we were discussing and made it real. With her touch, so many Jamaicans were able to relate to our products. She taught me how to make business entertaining. There is no doubt that the show had a positive impact on us commercially. We could see it in sales. Whatever we picked up or spoke about — a blender, a sheet set and mat whatever — by the following week it sold out. There was that kind of Midas touch ,” he continued.

The popularity of the show and the chemistry both shared was made evident from very early for Azan. He explained that this was made clear on his trips out of town to other store locations carrying out tasks not related to the show.

“The first thing they ask me is 'where is Elva?' I had to explain that she doesn't really work for Bashco; she just does the show. There are also those times that I would be out on personal business or with my family and out of the blue somebody asks for her. It just showed me the popularity of the show and Elva herself.”

About two years ago Elva sat down with Azan and shared details of her illness. As shocking as it was, her bubbly personality never allowed for a moment of sadness. Instead, she continued to to live her life.

“This year she told the crew but just kept soldiering on. In September she was hospitalised and our producers decided to film without her. When she heard she tried to get a doctor to discharge her so she could come and tape the show, However, she was too sick to be discharged. Determined to do the show, Elva checked herself out of hospital, came straight to the shoot, found clothes to wear, did the shoot like nothing was wrong, and then returned to hospital.”

It was therefore very hard for Azan when the news came.

“I was heading to a work assignment when I got the call that she had passed. The last thing I really wanted to do was be in a place where I was interacting with persons. Then I asked myself, 'What would Elva say?' and it came to me: 'go do di people dem work. That got me through the day.”

“I have lost a teacher, confidante, friend, life coach who taught me me to love the life I live and live the life I love.”

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