Who is this man, Mark Golding?

Who is this man, Mark Golding?

A closer look into the life of the new PNP president

BY HG HELPS
Editor-at-Large
helpsh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, November 08, 2020

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(Today we reprint a slightly edit feature on successful People's National Party candidate Mark Golding, which was originally carried on Sunday, October 4, 2020)

He is the new president of the Opposition People's National Party (PNP), a businessman and lawyer, but what other facts are there to be known about Mark Jefferson Golding?

Well, the Member of Parliament (MP) for St Andrew Southern was reproduced on the Jamaican 'rock' from an alliance with strong English and Jamaican fixtures.

His father, the highly-respected orthopaedic surgeon, Sir John Golding, had landed in Jamaica in 1953, met on arrival at the dock by Dr Ken McNeill, father of Dr K Wykeham McNeill, a former PNP MP and Cabinet minister, who went on to become minister of health.

According to Mark, Professor Golding was originally enroute to the United States to take up a post at University of Chicago, but he fell in love with Jamaica and never left, except for visits overseas.

Mark's mother, Patricia Levy, later Lady Golding after her marriage to Sir John, was the daughter of Jamaican senior medical officer at Savanna-la-Mar Hospital in Westmoreland, Dr Logan Levy, who died when she was seven, leaving her upbringing to her English mom, who, in a strange land, was forced to work hard to educate Patricia and another sibling.

Lady Golding is alive, though quite frail.

The coming together of Jamaica's first orthopaedic surgeon and the public servant first brought forth a girl in 1963, and two years later, Mark opened his eyes for the world to see.

“My upbringing was on the campus [The University of the West Indies],” Golding disclosed to the Jamaica Observer.

“In my teenage years I used to love dancehall music, I used to go Jah Love and Kilamanjaro [sound systems], go to August Town and Hermitage… still do, and I was exposed to all aspects of Jamaican life.

“I spent a lot of time in communities which would now be considered as inner-city communities,” he said.

Still close to his only sibling who lives in Trinidad & Tobago, and is married to a doctor who doubles as a businessman, Mark has a high regard for the institution of family and what accompanies it, including caring for people, generally.

“I grew up on the university campus in the 1970s, at a time when progressive thinking and the anti-apartheid movement were powerful currents around me, and I have always had a progressive orientation as a youth coming up.

“My mother's first job was in the central planning unit when Norman Manley was premier in the [early] 60s. She left and went to the [Mona] rehab centre to help my father build it, and spent the rest of her career there, essentially working as a volunteer.

“My father was an institution-builder. Whatever private practice he did, which was very little, the proceeds went to help fund his activities at the rehab centre. He started the Hope Valley School, was part of the FISH [Foundation for International Self-Help] Clinic, the Hospice Pain Centre… My dad was a philanthropist as well as a doctor and my mom, her career was in the same vein.

“The mindset of my family has always been about caring for people, and I have always felt compelled, even when I was doing business and becoming successful at it, I have always felt the urge in serving the country.

“In 2006 when we sold DB&G [Dehring, Bunting & Golding], I then took the opportunity to say I can comfortably give of myself to Jamaica and [PNP President] Portia [Simpson Miller] made me an Opposition senator in 2007.”

He has been with wife Sandra for 36 years, 30 of them as a married couple — a union that has produced three adult children — two girls and a boy, who all live in Jamaica.

“She is a wonderful lady who has been a source of strength and comfort to me, that has enabled me to achieve the things that I have, whether in law or business and now in politics,” the self-described family man said of his wife. “We are a very good couple,” he went on.

Mark's educational background was established at Mona Preparatory School, where he did what most children without the luxury of the Internet and tablets did at the time – use their extra-curricular time to play football, sing in the choir and other things.

A Campion College student, he served his formative secondary school years there, representing the institution that has an enviable record of producing scholars, in schoolboy cricket from early, playing in the Sunlight Cup, now named the Grace Shield.

“I was keen on cricket. I played Sunlight Cup from second form. I used to bowl left-arm orthodox and I batted also,” the naturally left-handed player said of his hitherto unheard of venture into what has always been regarded as 'the gentleman's game'.

In the Campion line-up at the time was one Chris Dehring, about five years Mark's senior, who represented Jamaica Under-19 teams at cricket and football, and would become one of Mark's business partners later in life.

A trip to his father's birthplace to finish his secondary education at his dad's old boarding school, also led Mark to read for his bachelor of law degree at the world-rated University of Oxford .

Returning to Jamaica and spending two years at Norman Manley Law School, he, not long after, got a scholarship overseas to pursue his master's degree in law (LLM) in commercial and corporate law.

“I built my legal practice around corporate finance mergers and acquisitions. I was practising for about three years. I knew Chris Dehring and Peter Bunting from Campion, they were ahead of me, and then we started DB&G.

“I knew Bunting through Chris and others. They were both in banking, and when I came back they were looking to do innovative things — two bright young Citibank-trained bankers – and they needed legal services to carry that and they both used me to do that. After a while we said why don't we do this together and that's how DB&G started.”

Add DB&G, which was sold to Scotiabank in 2006, to Proven Investments, now a decade old, and a story about level-headed management that involves him would emerge.

The one-time footballer, who played for fun into his forties, is also now chairman of Arnett Gardens Football Club, which he is working to put on a sustainable footing for when he would have left the scene.

Mark, in his trip through politics, desires to have a positive effect on whatever he touches, just like his dad did when he was tasked to handle the tragic Kendal train crash of September 1, 1957, the outbreak of polio, which led to the establishment of the Polio Centre, renamed the Mona Rehab Centre, and now the Sir John Golding Centre.

“I am offering myself for the leadership of the party at this time, because I think the party is at a very low ebb and it needs to be brought together by somebody who can be a unifying force, somebody who has the experience and the capacity to lead the party through this difficult time.

“I think I have the approach to interpersonal relations and as a leader in my own constituency which I brought together. We have over 100 members. South St Andrew is by far the strongest constituency when it comes to the YO [ youth organisation]. And I really encourage them because I see engaging young people as a very important part of what we do, and the party needs to bring the YO much more centrally into what we do and nurture them, build their capacity, because the party needs to be stronger with young people, and one of the reasons that we are not as strong as we should be is that we have not properly integrated the YO into the actual decision-making of the party and how the party is run. And not just the YO, the Patriots, which is the affiliate that deals with young professionals in their thirties, and the [PNP] Women's Movement as well.

“All of our affiliates need to take on a new lease on life in the rebuilding of the party,” he said.

Just in case you didn't know, Mark has a musical side to him as well, though all but redundant now because of time constraints. Ray Hitchen and himself had a label called Riverside Music, which produced three albums, including Della Manley's first album Ashes on the Windowsill.


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