One of those persons in my life was the late Hon Lewis Astwood
As you live your life on this earth, many people will come into your life, and they are there for a purpose even though sometimes you wish some of the people were not part of your life. Some people are there for a temporary purpose though while others are there on a permanent basis.
As time goes by, you will discover that some people in your life are just using you. They only know you when they want you to do something for them or their family. They don’t normally call you or check on you but the moment they need something, they know they can depend on you and will call you. Be careful of these people.
However, not everyone is alike. There are some people in your life who will always be by your side no matter what you are going through. They will defend you when others try to assassinate your character. These types of people are hard to find and hard to replace.
One of those irreplaceable persons in my life was the late Hon. Lewis Astwood. Hon. Astwood died on May 13th and so this article is dedicated to him.
Hon. Astwood (age 78) was born on 16th September 1943 on Middle Caicos Islands, the largest island in the Turks and Caicos. Ironically, he along with the PDM party made some of the largest impact in the Turks and Caicos Islands having served as a Minister of Works, Utilities, Labour, Immigration and Civil Aviation during the First Ministerial Government of the TCI in 1976 under the leadership of the Late Most Excellent Right Hon JAGS McCartney.
During his government’s reign from 1976 to 1980, some notable achievements occurred. Prior to the 1976 government, the Public Work workers of Salt Cay were only getting $5.25 a day while workers in Grand Turk were getting $9 a day. His government changed that and put the Salt Cay workers on par with the Grand Turk workers. His government also removed the buoy physically that separated the Turks Islands from the Caicos Islands. You see the back of the buoy was a phrase that was used to divide the people of Turks and Caicos Islands. His government also ensured that all Government Departments were headed by locals. Another notable thing is that there was a water shortage in the islands during this period and the Government built catchment tanks so that the people can have access to water on a regular basis.
A wise man
Many of us have equate acquiring a college degree with wisdom and intelligence. However, you can be wise and intelligent without a college degree. Hon. Astwood was one of those persons. He had very little formal eduation, but he was smarter and wiser than many of us who graduated from college and university. Some may call it Street-smart but whatever you call it, I know he was full of wisdom. Every time I talked to him (which was very often by the way), it was a like a light bulb went off in my head. I was so amazed with his thoughts and ideas. He always thought outside the box and always was one step ahead.
An astute businessman
Hon. Astwood migrated to the Bahamas at age 16 and during his time there, he learned the trade of plumbing, electricity and air-conditioning eventually forming and running his own company. You see he became a successful entrepreneur in the Bahamas. He also had multiple businesses in TCI ranging from grocery stores to waste management companies. I knew of Hon. Astwood growing up, but he became well known to me when I became the CEO of Cable & Wireless. He was one of our top agents selling minutes on our behalf. He was a good negotiator and was able to convince us to provide him with an attractive commission rate. He was so astute that he set up hundreds of multiple sub agents who bought minutes from him and resold them. In fact, it was more of an incentive for the agents to buy minutes directly from him than buying it directly from Cable & Wireless.
A die-hard PDM but unbiased
Hon. Astwood was one of the founding members of the PDM and represented the PDM in the House of Assembly from 1976 to 1988 and then 1991 to 1995. He was loyal to the PDM and even wore a ring that inscribed “PDM for LIFE” Despite his political allegiance to the PDM party, he did not let that interfere with our friendship or his allegiance to our country. His priority was always the country no matter what political side of the fence you were on. In fact, I believed that Hon. Astwood was on the Immigration Board when I applied for the CFO position at Cable & Wireless. The Board rejected the expatriate application because they knew I could have done the job.
Many times he would say “Drexwell you and I may not agree politically but I want you to know that I got your back.” I wish some of our politicians were like Hon. Astwood. Today some of our politicians get upset with you and passed you like they don’t know you simply because you express an opinion that is different from theirs. Hon. Astwood was not like that.
A caring person
Hon. Astwood was one of the most caring persons I have met. He was one of the few people that called me frequently to check on me and always encouraged me to try to get on a kidney list so I can get a kidney. Prior to me being on dialysis, Hon. Astwood served on the Kidney Foundation and many of the dialysis patients spoke so highly about him and how effective he was in the Foundation, making a significant difference in the lives of others.
His quiver was full of children
Psalms 127:5 states that “blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” Hon. Astwood revealed to me how many children he had but I am not going to state that publicly, but I will say he was man whose quiver was full of them. He loved his children. His children mattered greatly to him. He was obviously a great father because his children loved him and took care of him during his illnesses.
He was a freedom fighter
Hon. Astwood became politically motivated while in the Bahamas. He witnessed how the Bahamian people were treated and how their rights were infringed, and he saw how some of the Bahamians politicians such as the late Sir Lynden Pindling fought for them. When Mr. Astwood returned to the TCI in the 1970s, he saw the injustices that were taking place which prompted him to help form the Black Power Movement whose objective was to ensure justice and equality for Turks and Caicos Islanders. He along with others fought hard and were successful in their bid to make lives betters for Turks and Caicos Islanders. Some may not liked his methodology, but he achieved the objectives of the Movement.
I don’t have many friends by choice, but Hon. Astwood was one of my friends. He was always concerned about my health and my family. When my mom died and was buried in South Caicos, he was right there at the funeral to support me and my family.
Hon. Astwood was a giant of a man and one of a kind. He was a man of action and got things done. To date, the Turks and Caicos Islands has named one national hero which of course is the Hon. JAGS McCartney. Honestly, I believed that Hon. Astwood should be recognized and named as a Hero too.