All’s set for former PM’s state funeral

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Barbadians are being encouraged to come out in their numbers to view the proceedings and pay their last respects to former Prime Minister Owen Seymour Arthur at the State Funeral scheduled to start at 2 p.m.

From noon however, the cortege will pull onto the streets from Lyndhurst Funeral Home on Passage Road to make its way to the former PM’s home parish of St Peter stopping briefly at the historic Parliament Buildings in the capital city where Arthur spent more than three decades as a parliamentarian, 14 of them as the country’s fifth prime minister.

During a press briefing this afternoon, Minister of Labour, Colin Jordan, who is coordinating the funeral, made it clear that the funeral was not a private affair.

He reiterated that much of the preparations were in keeping with Arthur’s specific requests.

In an attempt to allow as many persons as possible to line the streets and view the procession, all offices in the public service will close at noon tomorrow.

“This is to allow for public officers to be able to get to a location where they can view the service, either along the route, in Speightstown or at satellite locations,” he said.

The minister said even though COVID-19 protocols would be in place, there was sufficient space where persons could watch the proceedings.

He said there are no restrictions for persons along the route.

Furthermore, Jordan said additional space would be provided at the St Peter’s Parish Church where the service is being held, as well as Mount Pleasant Memorial Gardens for the interment.

“We are asking persons to come out to pay their last respects and to show their support for the family and to be part of a significant occasion. All Barbadians are invited to come out.

“It will be a very fitting tribute, testament to the life, the work, the stature of the man whose life we will remember and, in some ways, celebrate tomorrow afternoon,” Jordan said.

He said the Christ is the Answer Family Church at Battaleys, the Speightstown Esplanade and National Heroes’ Square, would be used as satellite locations where persons are able to view the service on screens as it is carried live from the St. Peter’s Parish Church.

He revealed that to date, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines had confirmed representation at the service. However, he said he was awaiting confirmation from other countries.

Regarding the route of the cortege, Jordan said Broad Street would be closed to vehicular traffic for 15 minutes between 12 and 12:30 p.m. to allow the procession to pass.

He said one minute’s silence would be observed when the cortege passes in front of the Parliament buildings and on passing Arthur’s childhood home in Benn Hill, St Peter.

Jordan said when it leaves the funeral home, the cortege will turn right at Passage Road, continue along Country Road, turning right at the traffic lights at Weymouth, proceeding onto Roebuck Street to its junction with Crumpton Street where it turns left.

At the junction with Constitution Road and St Michael Row it turns right and proceeds along St Michael’s Row. At the traffic lights, the procession will travel straight ahead to pause for one minute’s silence at the South gate of Parliament. It  will then travel counter regular traffic down  Broad Street, around Jubilee Gardens onto Cheapside and then Fontabelle, passing Kensington Oval and then onto the Mighty Grynner Highway and then along Highway One to Battaleys in Speightstown.

Jordan said Prime Minister Mia Mottley and members of the Cabinet will join the procession at the Alexandra School on Queen’s Street.

Between the school and the popular Fisherman’s Pub, the route will be lined with students from All Saints’ Primary, Coleridge and Parry and Harrison College, which Arthur attended and Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute for Technology, the Barbados Community College and the University of the West Indies.

Members of the Barbados Cadet Corps will line the route from the All Saints Primary School to the entrance of Mount Pleasant Memorial Gardens.

There will be no eulogy but Arthur’s cousin Dr Elliot Douglin will reflect on his life.

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