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Dr Vivian Child honoured for documenting local architecture

Dr Vivian Child honoured for documenting local architecture

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In recognition of her contribution to the documentation of the built heritage of her adopted homeland St Vincent and the Grenadines, a ceremony was held on Wednesday, April 11 to honour 92-year-old Physician, Artist and Writer, Dr Vivian Child.{{more}}

Organized by the St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) National Trust, the short but significant ceremony was held at the Heritage Hall (The Carnegie Building – Old Public Library) and attended by a fairly large gathering of members of the National Trust, government officials and other well wishers.

Born in London in 1920, Vivian, whose surname was Usborne before she married Vincentian, Ian “Sonny” Child, arrived in St. Vincent in 1954 on assignment from the British Colonial Service to work at the then Kingstown General Hospital following her three year position in East Africa.

After adopting St Vincent as her home, Dr Child continued her medical practice, but she also documented along the way, through her art, Vincentian built history.

Chairperson of the SVG National Trust Louise Mitchell Joseph described Dr. Child’s work as an artist, as extraordinary.

“It is really remarkable that back in the 1950’s, she set about to document the images that she saw. How would she have known back then that it would have been so important to our history to have these images documented?

“We have to pay tribute to her because she has lovingly preserved for us through her art images of buildings that would have otherwise disappeared through the ravages of time, natural disasters and through the deconstruction of development,” Mitchell-Joseph added.

Governor General, Sir Frederick Ballantyne, commended the SVG National Trust for recognizing Child for her outstanding contribution to the nation, while still alive.

“Very soon people forget about you, but more to applaud the National Trust for honouring Vivian today. I think that this is most commendable…”

Ballantyne, in his address, also took a stroll down memory lane and shared with the audience his memories of Child’s contribution to this country’s health sector.

“I can honestly say that she has made a significant contribution to St. Vincent and I applaud you for recognizing her. Very few people would remember what she has done for health, but I’d like to think that she has done more for health than for heritage,” the Governor General stated.

The featured speaker at Wednesday’s ceremony was Julie Savage Lea, close friend of Child and author of the book “To an Island in Africa”.

While reviewing the life and works of Vivian, Lea described her as a humble and noble individual who never took credit for all the great things she has done for this country over the years.

“…Vivian insisted to me that this town is too noble. I only did what I had to do and we thank you for your service to this country and for the grace of your life and may it continue for many more years to come,” Lea said.

Other remarks were made by former Minister of Culture, René Baptiste, Desiree Richards, and Descima Hamiltion, who chaired that proceedings.

Following the speeches and remarks, it was then time for the presentation of a plaque and gift basket, presented to Child by Governor General, Sir Frederick Ballantyne.

In her brief remarks, Vivian Child, dressed in a blue dress with matching necklace and earrings, smiling broadly, thanked all gathered for their support and recognition.

“Thank you very much. It’s a great pleasure to be recognized. What I tried to do to keep people’s awareness of the beautiful buildings that still exist in St Vincent.”

Upon conclusion of the ceremony, persons had the opportunity to explore some of Vivian Child’s art work which was on display.(AA)

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