Regional

From car washer to bodyguard

District Constable Lester Page served two St Mary custodes

BY RENAE DIXON Observer staff reporter dixonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, August 04, 2014    

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FOR District Constable Lester Page it is an honour to have served two St Mary custodes for more than 25 years as driver and bodyguard. Not only is he very passionate about his job, but he takes great pride in transporting the first citizen of the parish he has called home for several years.

"I have no regrets doing this job," said Page, who began his driving career at age 18.

"Sometimes I go places with the Custos I always say to myself, 'If I wasn't driving for Custos, I wouldn't be here," he added.

While many may see his job as an easy one, it took hard work and dedication for Page to have kept it for all these years.

Born in Sligoville, St Catherine, Page went to St Mary to reside with a family member as a teenager because his parents had financial difficulties. That move and his contact with one of St Mary's custodes shaped what his life is today.

"Things got so rough that my parents couldn't do anymore, so you have to start looking on your own," he said.

He started out washing cars at Alrick "Bobby" Pottinger's home. However, he was soon encouraged by Pottinger, who was not yet custos, to learn to drive.

"He encouraged me to get a licence," he recalled.

This he did, and so when Pottinger became custos for the parish, Page got the job to drive the man who had inspired several achievements in his life, which included him becoming a district constable.

"He (Pottinger) always try with me," said Page who had begun driving for Pottinger before he became custos.

He lauded Pottinger for playing a key role in building his confidence over the years.

Page recalled being asked to pick up Custos Pottinger in Kingston, and having never before travelled to the capital alone, that experience is one he still remembers to this day.

"I drive about 30 miles per hour wondering if I am going to find him," he recalled, adding that it was a test he passed although he often slowed traffic in the busy city.

In order to fulfil his duties as a driver and bodyguard, Page said he was encouraged to become a district constable by Pottinger. As a district constable he has proudly served the representatives of the governor general in St Mary over the years.

He served as a driver for the former St Mary custos for 24 years and now serves the present Custos Jeffery McKitty.

"I end up with two good boss... It has been pretty good; you meet a lot of persons," Page said, noting that his job takes him to many places and allows him to always meet new people.

The ever-smiling Page said he has had the pleasure of serving the custodes under three governors general: Sir Howard Cooke, Sir Kenneth Hall and Sir Patrick Allen.

So committed has this man been to his job that he became like family to Pottinger.

"I could go anywhere in the house; I am like family even today," he said.

Page said he was also able to interact with governors general and he often made it his duty to take farm produce to Sir Howard.

"He was a great man. I must express condolence to his family," he said.

Although his primary job as a district constable is to protect the custos he serves, Page, who is based at the Oracabessa Police Station, is always quick to carry out his duties as a district constable.

One of his most recent actions was to save a man from an angry mob in Port Maria.

"I was standing at the civic centre when I see a man run into the library. Then several persons with sticks and other things entered the library," said Page, who intervened quickly and helped to save the man's life.

On another occasion, while in Kingston, Page witnessed a fight, and although he was in unfamiliar territory and alone he intervened and stopped the fight.

"I like to help people," he said.

While his job is a very important part of his life, Page, a Christian and member of the Oracabessa Seventh-day Adventist Church, is very passionate about his family.

Page and his wife Tanesha have two sons, Alshayne and Rajie. Although he is committed to his job, his family is top priority.

"Family is great. I do my best to balance family and work. Work is important, but family is also important," he said. Although he spends long hours away from home, Page does all he can to spend time with them.

"On a Sunday, once I am home, I cook; I grate my coconut, grate my carrot. I love my rice and peas and carrot juice," he said.

The humble father, who loves to play dominoes and cricket, said he intends to continue doing his job with pride and dignity and to serve with honour as he has been doing over the years.

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