BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – THE national heroes of St. Kitts and Nevis – Sir Robert L. Bradshaw, Sir Joseph N. France and Sir Caleb Azariah Paul Southwell – are now immortalised for the digital ages.
The life and times of these three men have been captured into a slideshow by national archivist Victoria O’Flaherty. The display, entitled “National Heroes in Photos”, is available for download and perusal at www.stkittsnevis.com.
It contains pictures of Bradshaw, France and Southwell at work and at play, as well as from their Cabinet swearing-in ceremonies to their many trips abroad as representatives of the Federation. The slideshow also includes a biography of each man which highlights his most significant achievements.
All three icons made enormous contributions to the development of St. Kitts and Nevis.
Bradshaw was a staunch trade unionist who held the posts of Chief Minister and Premier. He is most notably remembered for his nationalisation of the sugar lands and for obtaining the mandate for St. Kitts and Nevis to seek independence.
France was also involved in the trade union movement, and successfully contested nine general elections for the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party. His contribution to healthcare led to the 1967 renaming of the Basseterre Hospital in his honour.
Southwell was the first Chief Minister and also Bradshaw’s Deputy Premier. After Bradshaw passed away in 1978, he served as Premier until his death a year later.
Speaking to SKNVibes, O’Flaherty, who is also a noted historian, stated that the project was “a labour of love”. Her inspiration for it came from a desire to teach persons about history in a fun and unconventional manner.
“The two groups of people that frequent the archives most are nationals in the diaspora and students. I thought using this technology was a great way to make the information more accessible to them, because nowadays persons are more likely to research online than through books,” she explained.
O’Flaherty also divulged that the slideshow was sent to every school in St. Kitts and Nevis, where she hopes it would be used as a teaching guide.
Parliament passed the National Honours Act in 1998, which designated every September 16 as the public holiday of National Heroes. That day was also the birthday of Bradshaw and France.
On the inaugural National Heroes Day in 1998, the Golden Rock Airport was renamed the Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport, and Bradshaw was posthumously honoured as a National Hero.
In 2004, Southwell and France were elevated to the prestigious status.