I returned from Barbados three weeks ago intending to write about Leonard Earl St. Hill (Lennie) an iconic Saint Lucian and living legend. Had I done so at the inspired moment, few would have believed that John Peters who regularly writes in the weekend VOICE, and I, had not deliberated – he having written about Leonard St. Hill – on the subject. Two recent events inspired me to write about Lennie; the publication of a 60 page booklet which covers letters to the newspapers in Barbados in 2013 and the very high honour the Association of Freemasons Lodges of Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean (British Constitution) conferred upon Lennie at its recent meeting.
I can’t recall when I first met Lennie. I was however aware of his proposal to build a major highway (a straight road so the saying went) between Castries and Vieux-Fort, long before I finally met the man. At the time Beane field Air Base (later Hewanorra) was deactivated and remained unused. , There were several other elements to the vision of this iconic Saint Lucian some of which were mentioned in John Peters article two weeks ago. His early vision for Saint Lucia is only half the story. For a fuller appreciation of the man one ought also to read the little booklet mentioned above. There are gems which would brighten the faces of the initiated and warm the hearts of those who dare to think beyond printed text books.
In these letters Lennie discusses a wide range of subjects, from ‘International Cricket Reform’ and ‘Partisan Political Charade’ to ‘Productivity Analysis’ and ‘Satellites of Imperial Power’ and ending with ‘Social Partnership in Practice.’ There are some 44 articles (letters) in that publication which he calls, ‘2013 Diary of Letters to the Editor.’ Although these letters pertain mainly to the island of his domicile, Barbados, they can just as easily be applicable to Saint Lucia or any other Caribbean island.
I liked Lennie before I had met him. I had gained the impression by listening to others who knew him speak, that he was a no-nonsense, principled individual who knew his job and would brook no mediocrity or second guessing by lesser qualified mortals – including politicians. Listening to persons who knew him well it seems that many of the more visionary ideas which the late John Compton brought to fruition first took root in the fertile and imaginative mind of young Leonard Earl St. Hill whilst he was Chief Engineer in Saint Lucia. The island was still a colony.
During my early days in the St. Lucia Forum, (early seventies) I made the acquaintance of Lennie’s father and I was impressed that St. Hill senior’s words of wisdom could easily have given rise to a brilliant son such as Lenny.
Saint Lucians who have had connections in Barbados over the past 40 to 50 years will recall that it was during Lennie’s tenure as the head of Town and Country Planning Department in Barbados that the roads on that island took a turn to modernity. Narrow street corners were widened, sidewalks were constructed and roundabouts became a distinguishing feature of the new Barbados road design. Lenny’s work lays all over the length and breadth of Barbados to be seen and enjoyed by Barbadians and visitors alike.
The breadth of knowledge on other subjects as diverse as West Indies cricket and processes in Parliament makes his booklet recommended reading to all senior civil servants as well as politicians with the capacity to be fascinated by ideas.
I should therefore turn to the prestigious Masonic award which was conferred on Lennie St. Hill by the Right Worshipful District Grand Master of Barbados and the East Caribbean at the 318th Communications meeting of the District held in Barbados recently. The meeting was hosted by Albion Lodge, Barbados which was founded over two hundred years ago. I will let the citation speak for itself.
Quote: ‘Leonard Earl St. Hill was initiated into Freemasonry in his native St. Lucia in Abercrombie Lodge on July 11, 1958. Upon relocation to Barbados, after many years of visiting Union Lodge, he became a joining member and in 1975 became Worshipful Master of that lodge and held various offices in that lodge, including a 25 year stint as Chaplain. He remains active in Freemasonry and is the current Mentor of Union 7551.
He was the leading or principal proponent in the founding of the following: *Preceptors Memorial Lodge 9714 in 2000;
*Union Holy Royal Arch Chapter 7551 in 2008 (in recognition of the Craft Lodge’s 50th anniversary;
He is a member of St. Michael’s H R Arch Chapter 2253 where in 1982, he served as 1st. Principal. An excellent ritualist, and a perfectionist, he served as District Grand 3rd. Principal from 2005 to 2010. In addition, he is also a member of the St. Michael’s Rose Croix where he became MWS.
Never shy to offer an opinion, his strong character has been a hallmark of his personality. His contributions to the wider civil society have been noted through his involvement as a professional town planner. He is an avid letter writer to the daily print media on a wide range of topics and participates in associations which are designed to lift society.’
In recognition to his outstanding dedication and service to Freemasonry in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, the District Grand master is pleased to present W. Bro. Leonard Earl St. Hill PDSGW, PM of Union Lodge 7551 (1975) and PM of Preceptors Memorial Lodge 9714 (2000) as one of the first recipients of the Jewel of Merit.
This special 8-sterling silver Jewel of Merit is meant as a token of recognition which lodges in the Eastern Atlantic and Caribbean region can confer on members being above the rank which the district previously was empowered to offer and just below that of Grand Lodge. It was the very first time such a high value specially minted medal was bestowed. There was one other recipient of this prestigious award. He is the well known Kenneth Allan Patrick Monplaisir, QC, OBE, also a member of Abercrombie Lodge, Saint Lucia. I was therefore a proud moment for Abercrombie Lodge and also for Saint Lucia.