Gifted MC, media personality and friend to the Compton family, Barbara Jacobs Small hosted October 21’s ‘Sir John Compton Memorial Foundation dinner’, leading a packed ballroom through an invigorating night of fund-raising and delicious cuisine prepared by renowned Chef Nina Compton. Among diners sat members of the Compton family, former Prime Minister Stephenson King, current Minister of Tourism, Dominic Fedee, foreign diplomats and a few of Saint Lucia’s leaders in business.
Setting the tone for a night that was equal parts joyous as it was heavy with purpose, Lady Janice Compton, wife to the late Sir John, graced dinner guests with an all-encompassing speech, doing well to highlight the night’s mandate: to withhold the legacy of one of Saint Lucia’s most beloved leaders, to honour the life he dedicated to the development of this island, and to fuel an organisation meant to continue his works, the Sir John Compton Memorial Foundation. She touched on everything from titbits of their family life to his social and political work.
“How does one put into words the life of someone whose light shone so brightly? A man who determined, when he returned home from studying Law and saw the conditions in which many Saint Lucians lived, that he would give the rest of his life to their service, and in so doing played a major part in bringing Saint Lucia to the level of development we enjoy today.”
She was generous with her personal observations of his character: “The man I married was the most humble of men; material things were of little importance to him, unless they were a necessity,” she said, before presenting the audience with a video honouring not only Sir John but others with whom he worked and who were key contributors to the island’s progress.
Also taking the mic that night were daughters Nina and Jeannine Compton. Nina, the first runner-up Iron Chef and co-owner of Compere Lapin restaurant in New Orleans, left her post to deliver a brief monologue that was seasoned with her signature humility and grace.
Her sister, Jeannine Compton, delivered a vote of thanks fit for the record books as she embodied the gratitude of a child in awe of her parents. She sung not only the praises of her father but, holding back tears, spoke fondly of her mother – the woman who stood so strongly by his side throughout the years, who remained strong even when her husband and children were under scrutiny, and who has been serving Saint Lucia since the age of 21.
In an effort to emulate the spirit of Sir John, the choices for musical intermissions were selected with him in mind, featuring performances from Boo Hinkson, the Saint Lucia School of Music, the Rotary Calabashers and venerated Saint Lucian calypsonian, Morgee.
As if nobility was not already accounted for, an auction and prize draw were also scheduled into the night’s agenda. Draw prizes were provided by Baron Foods, Saint Lucia Distillers and Le Sport. On the auction list was a weekend for two at Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort; a weekend at Ladera Resort, and a four-night trip to New Orleans, with all proceeds from the auction going towards Dominica relief efforts.
The Compton family has promised, as much as their capabilities will allow, to continue on the course set out by the late Sir John George Melvin Compton, who so strongly believed in the value of a good education.
Instated seven years ago, the foundation has thus far assisted over 800 students with their CXC examinations, provided financial assistance to students pursuing secondary and tertiary education both here and abroad, and awarded the Saint Lucia School of Music with equipment, among a number of similar gestures of generosity.