Hellshire vendors hurt by the passing of DK

Hellshire vendors hurt by the passing of DK


Saturday, September 19, 2020

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ALREADY struggling from a sharp decline in sales because of a Government-imposed shutdown, vendors at the Hellshire Beach in St Catherine, are bracing for tougher times with the death of former Cabinet member Donald Keith (DK) Duncan.

The veteran politician died in hospital Thursday after being admitted having tested positive for COVID-19.

As news of Duncan's death spread across the mostly deserted beach on Thursday, individuals there told the Jamaica Observer stories of Duncan and his first wife Joan visiting the beach regularly while the family lived in the Hellshire community.

“His death hurt Hellshire because when anything arises pertaining to the beach he was always there to defend us, so his death will hurt Hellshire,” said Othneil Edwards, who operates the Lobster Belly Seafood Restaurant on the popular beach.

“The death of John Maxwell did hurt Hellshire and now DK Duncan's death will hurt Hellshire even more,” added Edwards.

Maxwell, a journalist and environmental activist, died in 2010 after a long battle with lung cancer.

In a 2009 article Maxwell wrote of the 1970s when Jamaicans really discovered the beauty of the beach at Hellshire and the pleasure of the company of those who occupied the property. He also outlined his and Duncan's role in the early days of the fishing village.

According to Maxwell, he got along well with the fishermen of Hellshire and they asked for his help when they were told that they would be relocated under a development plan for Portmore.

“I begged them [the Urban Development Corporation] for 32 acres of land at Halfmoon Bay for the fishermen. We wanted space for a fishing village, a secure area for boats and gear and an area behind the beach where the fishermen and the families could sell the cooked result of their labours.

“I got nowhere until I went to talk to [Prime Minister] Michael Manley. He deputed Hugh Small and DK Duncan to try to solve the problem. We were valiantly backed up by Beverley Manley. It was agreed — in 1979 — that the UDC would turn over 10 acres of land to the Fishermen's Co-operative,” added Maxwell.

The Half Moon Bay Fishermen's Co-operative still continues to operate the Hellshire Fishing Village.

“I extend my condolences to DK Duncan's family from all of us here at Hellshire because he did so much for us,” Edwards told the Observer.

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