This is the John Horne I remember
by Nelcia Robinson
Chivalry was alive in the 1950’s and as a Colony exchanging hands with Spain, France and Britain, St Vincent & The Grenadines inherited many characteristics.
One was the “Coming of Age”/”Presentation to the public” of the daughters of the aristocrats. This event was the “Debu”, and the Debutantes were paraded in public. A form of this practice was adopted/adapted in SVG and young women who wished to would make their “Debu”. My sister Jacqueline was attracted to this social event, and I fondly remember the style and rustling silks of her gown, and most of all her Escort – none other than Knight in Armour John Horne. That photograph was a treasure on which I often gazed. I remember him for his moment of Chivalry/Courtesy to my Sister.
Fast forward to the 1980’s. Partners of the Americas was introduced to St Vincent under the leadership of Marjorie Jackson and Colonel Anderson. Mr John Horne was the Chair of the Cultural Committee of Partners of the Americas, and I was the Secretary to the Committee as well as all the Sub-Committees through which it functioned. Mr John Horne’s courtesy to me in these roles was very people-centred – he often wondered aloud “How This Poor Lady managed to cope with all these Minutes and Follow-up Actions”. I am grateful for that human touch. I did tell him thanks each time.
In 1984 I entered into Politics, and when his Party gained power, he was concerned enough about my welfare, to ask me if I wanted to return to the Civil Service. I declined, but had I said yes, I was sure he would have championed my cause. I did tell him thanks for his concern.
In the1990’s, in his Ministerial capacity, he travelled extensively to the UN to participate in various Conferences. I was there, too in my NGO Capacity. Minister Horne always welcomed my presence – he would say “I know if I looked up to the Gallery, you would be there”, and sure enough, when he saw me we would be waving gaily at each other, dumbfounding other NGO Colleagues who had no such ministerial attention. I did tell him thanks for his recognition.
In 1995 Minister Horne travelled to Beijing to attend the Fourth World Conference on Women. The NGO and Peoples Forum was quite a distance from the UN Government Conference Hall, and I did not see Minister Horne until the last few days. I assisted his technical team with writing his Address without seeing him. However, on the last day, he wished to visit the NGO Peoples Forum. I met him looking bewildered because none of his Team were available to travel with him, and I heard voices discouraging him from going, because “it was too far and everything would be shut down when he arrived. I quickly intervened –“Oh No, Minister, I said –You can’t come all the way to China and not visit the NGO/People’s Forum – what will you tell the Press at home when they inquire?” He said “That is true, Nelcia, but how can I go? I said “There are buses just outside, which we travel regularly, and you will get there in time. I will go with you”. So Minister Horne abandoned the protocol of getting a Ministerial Car, and sat with me in the People’s Bus to the Peoples Forum! He was warmly welcomed and informed by the thousands who were still there, and who applauded his effort. We returned to UN Government Conference Hall highly satisfied! On return to St. Vincent, I never breathed a word on this encounter.
Then Minister Horne astonished me when I was told he spoke of that experience on National TV, and remarked that when none of his Team was there to support him at this important point of his ministerial career, I was there! He repeated that story several times in audiences where I was present.
I told him He did not have to do such? This chivalrous/courteous gentleman said “It is my way of Thanking You.”
This is the John Horne I remember, and let other remembrances of human failings fade…