Memories of 'Butch'

Regional

Memories of 'Butch'

Flanker, Whitehouse residents hail Stewart for contribution to communities

BY HORACE HINES
Observer West reporter

Thursday, January 07, 2021

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MONTEGO BAY, St James -Residents of Flanker and Whitehouse, two St James communities nestled in proximity to three Sandals hotels, are heaping praises on hotel mogul Gordon “Butch” Stewart, who passed away on Monday, for his sterling contribution to the development of their communities.

The residents, who all spoke glowingly of Stewart, could not mask their appreciation for the countless acts of kindness that he extended to their respective communities over the years, when the Jamaica Observer West visited the area on Tuesday.

Carlette Hamilton, who was among a group of women in Flanker on Tuesday, pointed to Stewart's legacy in the inner-city community.

“...Most of all, if you go in most of the centres you will see, 'donated by Sandals'. Mi naw tell nuh lie a deh best man that gone,” Hamilton wailed.

“Anybody who doesn't say good about him a wicked. Anywhere you go and if they sey Mr Butch Stewart don't good, a bias dem bias. De man [Stewart] don't leave out Flanker.”

The residents drew attention to the Sandals Training and Recruitment Tier (START) initiative, which targeted youths living in the community who were trained and certified by HEART Trust/NSTA in various areas, resulting in a significant number of the graduates gaining employment at Sandals resorts.

Joan Munroe-Green, the youth programme coordinator at the Flanker Resource Centre — formerly Flanker Peace and Justice Centre — since its inception, spoke of Stewart's dedication to the community, and how his contribution made a difference in the lives of youth who would otherwise turn to a life of crime, if not for the training initiatives and social programmes sponsored by Stewart.

“Mr Stewart has been a beacon of hope for the community of Flanker. He believed in the citizens of Flanker; and as a result created the START programme at Sandals Montego Bay where persons were trained in various areas of the hotel and were later employed. This programme was exclusive to Flanker. Mr Stewart saw that he could do more and as such sponsored the annual Read-a-Thon event where students were exposed to reading, writing skills, and comprehension. From the Read-a-Thon event, he sponsored a homework club where students are assisted with their homework. He expanded the building at the Flanker Resource Centre to accommodate various programmes. Words cannot express the significant contribution Mr Stewart has given to the community. He has enhanced our lives positively in so many ways and we are truly grateful,” she said.

She stressed that Stewart's passing has left a pall of gloom on the community.

Shellyann Reid, another resident, agreed.

“A one good man. Three quarters of the hospitality workers from Flanker start out at Sandals. The peace and justice centre is him build it.”

The hotel mogul was also fondly remembered for staging annual Christmas and back-to-school treats for children in both the Flanker and Whitehouse communities.

“Mi don't know him in person, but at Christmas the children get them treat. He always supports us with any little thing…the football and such, even with back to school,” Rosalyn James, another resident of Flanker, reflected.

A Whitehouse resident who gave her name as Charmaine expressed similar sentiments.

“He opened a door for the community with Sandals. Him give back to the community. He had Christmas treat every year for the children. If we have any event, they assist us with refreshments,” she shared.

“Even the staff bus, he used to tell them that as long as a Whitehouse people them can travel on the bus, as long as there is space.”

Flanker resident, Tavine Campbell, spoke proudly that three of her daughters who were part of the community marching band had the opportunity to perform at two of the Sandals hotels.

“I have three children who used to be in the marching band that used to go out to Sandals Montego Bay and Sandals Royal. He [Stewart] took care of us very much; we could depend on him for things for the kids and every holiday the kids got their meals, toys, their little enjoyment... everything. He's a wonderful man and we miss him so much,” Campbell said.

Ken Jumpp, president of the Whitehouse Fisherfolks Cooperative (WFC), noted that Stewart, who was of great assistance to the fisherfolks in the community, was instrumental in the formation of the WFC.

“We lost a good man. Mr Stewart was a foundation in our community of Whitehouse. He was the one who helped in founding the Whitehouse Fisherfolks group. He was the one who sponsored us the money to start up the group. He will be missed in the community. To see us losing him now is a massive blow,” he bemoaned.

Jumpp had fond memories of days when Stewart visited the community and socialised with residents.

“He always visited our community...he was a good person to sit and talk to. He would guide you and tell you, 'Man listen, if fishing is your life, fishing is your life. You know how to fish, you have to go out there and catch the fish then,' ” said Jumpp.

-Additional reporting by Onome Sido


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