A Slice Of Earthly Paradise
Growing up in the rural town of Linstead, St Catherine, in the early 1970s, life was idyllic, with the primary concern of the young being waking up on time to catch the train in order to get to the parish capital of Spanish Town, where most of the leading high schools were located, and where most of the children of Linstead and its communities were schooled.
Indeed, whilst Linstead was seen by outsiders as a largely agrarian community, truth be told, Linstead was front and centre of the then industrial revolution under way, as Linstead and the supporting satellite villages and towns were home to some of the leading manufacturers and industrial factories that supplied the nation at large with a number of commodities, including a number of basket staples.
Linstead, however, with its historical market, was the equivalent of Grand Central Station for the many rural adjoining districts, and as it is with the nation's capital, which sees hordes descending on Kingston each day in search of their fortunes, so it was with Linstead.
Now, if you were a youngster in Linstead back in the day, you or your network of friends and/or school associates pretty much knew the lay of the land and all its inhabitants. So when young Dave Sterling arrived in Linstead with his family, to take up residence, the somewhat shy Dave set many a young heart a-flutter, and not least among them was that of Cherise Francis, a student of St Catherine High School at the time, whose primary commute to school was the train, and with Dave's father being the stationmaster you know young Francis never missed a train.
Well, her crush only got bigger, when Cherise, as did a number of young people, transferred her membership from what was then seen as the staid Methodist church, the place of worship of her parents, to the new "clap-hand" church that was new to the community, months later, when Dave, too, became a member of that church.
Well, theirs was a romance that never was, as familial commitments intervened and saw them moving in different directions. Their mutual attraction to each other was not lost on the very observant Peggy Sterling, auntie to Dave, and prominent member of the church, and who would remain the one constant bond between the two, advising each of the development in the other's life, over the years.
During those intervening years, both moved to the USA, both got married and started their respective families, whilst pursuing their individual careers, and so both never really kept in touch, despite the urging of aunt Peggy/Sister Sterling.
Well, ever the matchmaker, Peggy Sterling, dutifully kept Cherise abreast of Dave's separation, and equally informed Dave of Cherise's separation and eventual divorce, and urged them both to revisit their childhood attraction.
For many, this would have posed a geographical problem, as indeed, Cherise, whilst maintaining a home in Long Island, New York, really resided in San Clemente, California, and Dave, a resident of Edison, New Jersey.
Well, as they say, faint heart has never won fair lady, and so, remembering the promise of their youth, Dave Sterling called up his near- childhood sweetheart, and after getting the go-ahead for a visit, booked himself a flight and hotel, and jetted out to California, to call on his intended love.
By this time, Cherise, beset with ennui, and by the many would-be suitors, was decidedly in love with the notion that her Prince Charming was not only flying out to see her, but had also booked himself into a hotel and had requested permission to visit with her and her daughter Victoria, at their home, at an appropriate hour. The invitation to dinner the next day was the icing on the cake, but for her, the clincher was that Victoria was also invited to dinner.
They spent the next few months criss-crossing the skies, as they sought to cement their love, including a trip to Jamaica, to catch up with relatives. It was during their trip to Jamaica, last summer, over cocktails with family and friends, that Cherise, with Dave by her side, announced that she was planning on getting married by January of 2014. To say she dropped a bombshell would be putting it mildly, as up until then, Dave Sterling had no idea.
They returned home to the States, and if anything, their romance grew more intense, and when Dave proposed over Thanksgiving weekend, a delighted Cherise not only squealed her affirmative response, but within minutes of saying yes, was on the phone with the grand announcement and a day later, wedding planning went into overdrive!
And so it was that on January 25th, in a fabulous intimate ceremony, attended by family and friends, Jeffery Dave Sterling and Dr Cherise Francis Windle tied the marital knot, at her Jamaican beachfront estate, in Bengal Bay, St Ann, in an elegant ceremony that was a celebration of love and family.
Hosted at the charmingly quaint Villa Victoria, just west of Discovery Bay, Villa Victoria is one of the emerging wedding and events destinations that are now becoming the mainstay of the Jamaican hospitality and tourism industry. And located as it is on the very shore of the Caribbean Sea, with its own entertainment deck and gazebo/chapel, the place boasts a rustic and embracing island charm that makes it ideal as a one-stop wedding destination.
And a one-stop destination it was, with Jacqui Tyson's From Thought To Finish, event-planners and caterers ably doing the honours. Donna Bell was the event coordinator for the US.
Post-ceremony, the bride and groom and their guests were treated to a five-course meal of the finest order, fabulous entertainment with headliner the legendary Myrna Hague, dance music by Andrew Henry and Clive Budhoo. But the pièce de resistance was the fact that it was a Champagne-only affair, courtesy of Taittinger, Dom Perignon and Möet and Chandon.
Post-festivities the couple took their leave of their guests to begin their honeymoon at the elegant Jamaica Inn Hotel, before heading to Beaches Negril, where they continued their honeymoon, with the bride's daughter, Victoria Windle, who had celebrated her eighth birthday, the day before the wedding.