by Eulana Weekes
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Reverend Ron Daniel took to social media his desire to see Mr. Elquemedo T. Willett MBE as a National Hero of St. Kitts and Nevis when the country observes National Heroes Day on September 16, 2023.
Elquemedo Willett was the first person from the Leeward Islands to play for the West Indies, and according to Daniel, “it was he who paved the way for so many other greats from the Leeward Islands. It was he who not only shattered the glass for other cricketers but inspired people from the Federation en masse to believe that they too can make it on the international scene.”
Since Willett’s ascension to the West Indies 50 years ago at the age of 19, six other cricketers from the Federation have followed him; Derrick Parry, Keith Arthurton, Stuart Williams, Carl Tuckett, Runarko Morton and Kieron Powell.
Daniel echoed the sentiments of many Nevisians and Kittitians that Willett’s debut to the West Indies in 1973 lifted the spirits of the citizens plunged into mourning in 1970 due to the Christina Disaster. The pastor stated, “Willet gave Nevisians reasons to hope again, live again and to dream again”.
Despite the odds, Mr Willett persevered and climbed to higher heights. The Reverend explained, ” Willett did this in 1973 without any accredited coaches, without international cricket grounds, without nets, without a constant supply of water or electricity, without any cricket store for cricket gear, without any example in the entire Leeward Islands to inspire him or pattern from, without any media to hype him up, and without any player or selector from the Leeward Islands to make a case for him. This is truly heroic.”
Daniel suggests that “Sir” or “National Hero” be added to the name of Mr Willett to complement other recognitions, such as the renaming of Grove Park in his honour (Elquemedo T Willett Park), a Gold Jacket Award by the Leeward Islands Board, a bust and exhibits of him at the Nevis Sports Museum, documentation of Willett and his cricket career in a book penned by Mr Stevenson Manners and a special 50th Anniversary Banquet to celebrate Willett’s debut to international cricket.
Reverend Ron Daniel calls on the decision-makers to ensure Mr Elquemedo Willett is knighted as a National Hero in 2023.
“I urge those in Authority to make sure that Willett becomes Sir Elquemedo Willett this year. His accomplishments will spur the next generation of not just sportsmen but all people of St. Kitts and Nevis that they too can make it on the international scene.”
St. Kitts and Nevis has memorialised five great men as National Heroes since the first National Heroes recognition 25 years ago in 1998. If Mr Elquemedo Willett is knighted with the Order of National Hero, it will be a historic moment in the Federation, as that recognition will change the status quo from one where only politicians received such an auspicious award in St. Kitts and Nevis.
Sir Vivian Richards of Antigua and Barbuda and Sir Garfield Sobers of Barbados were knighted as National Heroes in their respective countries for their sterling contributions to cricket.
St. Kitts and Nevis will celebrate its silver jubilee National Heroes Day Ceremony on September 16, 2023, and its 40th Independence from Great Britain on September 19, 2023.