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Tribute – Gwendolyn Creese Mattis

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Tribute to Gwendolyn Creese Mattis

by the SVG Horticultural Society

Gwen is a past president of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Horticultural Society. In fact she was a prime mover in reactivating the Organisation which had lain dormant for a number of years.

It happened like this: Gwen had been a keen member of the Cactus Society during her years in Barbados. When she returned to visit her native land she was astounded that a

country so green and fertile had no gardeners’ societies at all. By the early nineties she had collected around her a number of enthusiasts and the Society became formalisedwith monthly meetings held at the Grammar School.

When Gwen became its President she introduced many new and inspirational ideas. Some of these we managed to carry out, like the uniforms we wear today, and some we are still working on. It was during Gwen’s term of office we created and still maintain a garden at the main entrance of the newly refurbished Milton Cato Memorial Hospital. A hospital where, later on at the onset of her own illness, she still had time to think of the comfort of others and organised the fellow members to donate a set of sheets to the women’s medical ward.

Now Gwen loved flowers. But that was not enough. She insisted that we eschew mental torpor and devised lots of little fun games to help us learn their names as well. She wanted us to be professional when we stage our biennial shows.

A couple of years ago, at the National Agricultural and Industrial Exhibition, Gwen’s twin loves, flowers and antiques, came together. She single-handedly organised the furnishing of the little thatched house of yesteryear with its drinking water cooled in the clay monkey and the flat irons to press the clothes at the ready. I remember somebody getting into trouble for putting a banana in the front of the house. It had to go in the back yard, the front was for flowers. The little trash house and Gwen’s friendly commentary brought delight to many Vincentians on a trip down memory lane.

Gwen thought big. She wanted us to find a piece of land and build a clubhouse and garden. She wanted St. Vincent to have a Flower Forest.

She encouraged people in the countryside beautifying the sides of the roads and she cultivated traditional Vincentian trees which are getting scare today like the Calabash and Pomegranate.

Gwen, we’ll miss you but we’ll keep on aiming high.

This tribute was delivered at Gwen’s funeral service on September 10, 2005.

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