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Neil Williams, the Vincentian born cricketer was laid to rest in international splendour last Saturday. A Service of Thanksgiving at the Kingstown Methodist Church formed part of Williams’ final journey. That ceremony saw the participation of a number of the members of Williams’ cricketing fraternity from different age groups.

Present was a collection of youths who have benefited fromWilliams’ tutelage. Many including his 13-year-old son Beresford reflected on Williams’ outstanding qualities. What was obvious to all was his dedication to coaching youngsters. They formed part of the Youth Cricket Academy to which Williams seemed steadfastly connected. {{more}}

No matter what the weather conditions, Williams remained committed to his coaching duties. Many of the youngsters attested to the extra time he extended to their cause, not just to the sport but also to their academic and social development.

The level of Williams’ international prestige was revealed by the presence of former England captain Mike Gatting and his wife.

Gatting felt obliged to be at Williams’ funeral in tribute to one whom he held in great respect.

Gatting was Williams captain at the Middlesex County during the years 1982, 1983 and 1984. Gatting was generous in his reflection of Williams. He described him as a “lovely guy” and one who “never got cross with batsmen.”

“He was just a very nice human being,” Gatting added: “I was lucky to play with him.”

Gatting interrupted a vacation in neighbouring Barbados to show his final respects to his former colleague.

For Gatting, it brought to mind Williams’s fellow Vincentian Wilfred Slack who also played for Middlesex. Slack and Williams established almost similar career paths.

Williams established almost similar career paths.

Slack also played for England and they were both part of a Windward Islands cricket unit which created a stir in the 1983 regional competition.

Slack, from the North Leeward village of Troumaca, died in Africa on tour with an English squad in January 1989.

“It’s sad to lose two nice people,” Gatting recounted and for him, it was solemn.

Other regional and international expressions of solidarity were testimony to the impression williams made on persons’ lives.

In attendance at the funeral were Edward Khan of the St. Lucia Cricket Association, as well as Secretary of the Grenada Cricket Association Cecil Greenidge.

The West Indies Cricket Board added its input through a wreath and a letter of condolence to Williams’ mother, Pinkey.

The Jamaica Cricket Board sent a letter of condolence.

Lennox Bowman, one with a debt of gratitude to Williams, was also glowing in his appreciation of Williams’ life work. Windwards Cricket Board President Lennox John also recounted Williams’ contribution to cricket. He summed up last Saturday’s ceremony as “ a touching momemt”. Williams, aged 43 took his final stance in his home village of Mesopotamia where his body was laid to rest.