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SVG pays final respects to Joel Huggins

SVG pays final respects to Joel Huggins

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Almost every pew at the St George’s Cathedral in Kingstown was filled to capacity last Saturday, November 22, as mourners turned out in their numbers to pay their final respects to the late Joel Fitzgerald “Toby” Huggins.{{more}}

Huggins, 62, General Manager of Dominica Electricity Services Ltd (DOMLEC), died suddenly on Friday, November 14, 2008, while on board LIAT Flight 851 that was destined for St. Vincent and the Grenadines. He died of a heart attack.

Governor-General Sir Frederick Ballantyne, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, along with Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace and other Government officials attended the large funeral.

The sombre mood that hung over the church was eased somewhat by the tributes that were paid to Huggins.

Speaking first, the prime minister said that it was quite a privilege to have known Huggins and to have shared with him on many occasions. Dr Gonsalves recalled fondly their days as students at the St. Vincent Grammar School and as teachers at the Bishop’s College Georgetown, where he said they learned a lot from each other. The Prime Minister said he had spoken to Huggins in Dominica three weeks prior to his death and no sign of ailments were visible. “I love him very much and I will miss him,” said Dr Gonsalves.

Chief Engineer of Domlec, Rawlins Bruney, said that when Huggins took up the position as head of DOMLEC in 2004, he brought a wealth of experience to the table. He stated that the deceased provided much leadership over the years and that he had a quiet confidence and professionalism that was exemplary. Bruney further noted that he was honoured to have had the opportunity to work alongside a man of Huggins’ stature.

Delivering the Eulogy, Huggins’ brother Tony reflected on the wonderful times they had while growing up in the Calliaqua area. Huggins reminisced about the pranks they played and their efforts to ride their grandmother’s donkey named “Prince”. Huggins described his brother as a man of outstanding character, integrity, honesty, understanding and kindness. He said that Joel had a sense of purpose and a desire for success, but never at the expense of his family or his moral fabric. “He was my hero, and I called him the best of the best,” stated Tony Huggins.

Other speakers included: Trevor Louisy, of St. Lucia Electricity Services Limited (LUCELEC) and CARILEC; Thornley Myers, CEO of Vinlec; Charles Savarin, Minister of Public Utilities, Energy and Ports in Dominica; L. Fenton from Montserrat; Brian Glasgow, District Assistant Governor of the Rotary Clubs in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Joel Toney, who spoke on behalf of the Villagers group.

Local surgeon Dr Hughes Dougan gave an emotional tribute to the man who he said had been his friend since they were in “ABC”. He said after hearing about Huggins’ death, he had “never felt so alone in his life”. Dr Dougan used the opportunity to call on those present to pay more attention to their health by having a regular check-up and taking their medication. He said that Huggins had battled with high blood pressure for most of his adult life.

Delivering the homily, Rector of St. Paul’s Anglican Church Archdeacon Dr Sylvanus Regisford said that Huggins was “A hardworking, steady Eddie, whose hands and hearts, mind and spirit spoke more for him than his lips.”

The funeral mass, which was attended by a large number of persons from overseas, was celebrated by the Right Reverend C. Leopold Friday, Bishop of the Windward Islands.

Following the funeral service, Huggins’ body was taken to the St Paul’s Anglican Church yard in Calliaqua for burial. Huggins is survived by his mother Arabella Sutherland, his wife Clydella, three children: Arianne, Daryl and Jesse, several brothers and sisters and the extended Huggins and Sutherland families.

Before taking up his post at DOMLEC, Huggins had served as CEO of the St. Vincent Electricity Services Ltd (VINLEC) for 22 years.