One week ago today, a small, intimate gathering was held to celebrate the 74th birthday of Stuart Jackson Hayward, who was born in Bermuda on May 19th, in 1942.
Despite heavy rain, several invited guests made their way to Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce (BEST) offices on Cedar Avenue.
Undeterred by the inclement weather that day, they came to extend personal birthday greetings to the man who, for more than 40 years has “built a reputation as an environmental activist and educator”.
Donations for a major BEST fundraiser to celebrate another milestone are being accepted until June 10th in honour of Stuart’s birthday.
A spokesperson said: “Stuart has devoted himself to improving the quality of life for all Bermudians. He has devoted himself to improving the quality of life for all Bermudians.”
As head of the environmental watchdog group known as the “protector of open spaces” in Bermuda, she said Stuart is fond of saying: “We walk and talk softly but carry a fairly big stick.”
Formed in 2007, BEST is a registered charity and limited liability company committed “to preserve and enhance the quality of life in Bermuda for present and future generations by engaging with the community to advocate for sustainable management and development of the physical, social and economic environments”.
Governed by a volunteer Board of Directors and run by a volunteer Management Team, operations are managed by three part-time consultants – something the spokesperson described as “amazing considering the impact BEST continues to have on the toughest environmental issues facing Bermuda”.
“Stuart has served quietly and effectively for decades in Bermuda ever reminding us that meaningful policy and practices protect us now and for future generations,” said Resources Administrator Kim Smith. “I am delighted to celebrate the many accomplishments of my friend and colleague at BEST!”
The oldest child of school-teacher Mary Jackson Hayward and jazz pianist Lance Hayward, Stuart’s sister, Sylvia Hayward-Harris
fondly refers to her brother by his nickname.
“My nickname for my brother is my ‘KWA-Bibbro’. He is my ‘knight in shining armour’, my wizard (who can fix anything) and my angel – always there when I need him. Giving you an unbiased opinion may not be entirely possible,” she said.
“Stuart has been my hero and role model since birth. There are nine years between us, and he let me tag around behind him for most of my early years until I was five, and he went to the West Indies to school.”
She noted that there are many stories of her brother’s time in Grenada in the book ‘My Bermuda – Memoirs of an Island Boy’. “There’s also a few stories in there of our early lives together with our thoroughly unique parents,” she said.
“In my opinion, Stuart is, and should have long been recognized as one of Bermuda’s Heroes. It truly amazes me that for all the folks who bleat about how they are fighting for the future of their children, and their children’s children, that they do not honour this man, who has spent the last 50 years or so, trying to do just that – preserve the best of Bermuda for posterity,” said Ms Hayward-Harris.
“Instead they deride, complain and denigrate his efforts, as if he is just trying to get in the way of progress. Progress shouldn’t mean destroy. Someday, our children and our children’s children will be grateful that there is one public beach that remains untouched and unspoiled to remind us of what Bermuda was like before we tampered with it.
“Let me say in closing that Bermuda’s biggest loss is that Stuart never had children to carry on his legacy. He used to say that he was too concerned that any child of his would turn out like him. For me, for Bermuda, that would exactly have been the point!”
“We have Admiralty House Park because of his efforts. We have Southlands for the same reason. Tucker’s Point, Morgan’s Point, the South Basin – all areas where his efforts, research while being outspoken, he has tried to ensure that ‘Bermuda’s Delicate Balance’ is sustained. And there is so much more – too much to mention.”
Admittedly, she said: “He had lots of help. But contrary to the opinion of some, he has never been a front man for ‘The Man’ – what an insult! And yet another indication of our own low self esteem, and lack of respect for black intelligence, enterprise, independent thinking, and environmental activism!
And it was his activism that fascinated this reporter as a young rookie on the Bermuda news beat in the mid-1980s.
I left that party in the pouring rain thinking to myself: “I remember Stuart as the guy with the soft spoken voice who spoke volumes.
“He was the very first candidate I covered who ran as an independent for the House of Assembly when former United Bermuda Party Government Minister Quinton Edness was screwing up on the multi-million dollar ‘No Scrubbers In the Von Roll/Tynes Bay Incinerator Fiasco Deal’. And he got in as an independent MP!
“If my memory serves me correctly I seem to recall it was Stuart and Gilbert Darrell who were elected as independent candidates during my early reporting days. That was way back when Mr Darrell, the late Walter Brangman and Austin Thomas got kicked out of the Progressive Labour Party. They ran as a trio for the then National Liberal Party, whenever that was way back in the day.
As a veteran journalist some 30+ years on, to see you on your 74th birthday still standing strong for ‘Bermuda’s Delicate Balance’, makes me even more eternally grateful for you! And may God continue to bless you!
To sincerely thank Stuart for his work and celebrate his 40 years of actively protecting & preserving our island environment, BEST has launched a very special 74th Birthday Campaign to assist him in continuing the work that he loves; the work that benefits all of us who live, work and vacation here.
BEST invited 74 BEST friends to help raise $25,000, and welcome the community to contribute and show Stuart their love and appreciation.
To make Stuart’s birthday wishes come true, donations can be made online at www.best.org.bm. By direct deposit to their Butterfield Bank account #20006060625713100 or by presenting a cheque or cash to BEST’s offices in the Cedar Park Centre, 48 Cedar Avenue, Hamilton.
Donations will be accepted until June 10th. In the words of A BEST spokeswoman: “Please support Stuart Hayward’s 74th Birthday Campaign and invest in a sustainable future for Bermuda, while sending your best wishes and thanks for his enormous contribution to enriching our lives.”
By Ceola Wilson
Photo caption:BEST team and Volunteers, Olya Toropova & Lynne Matcham (Management Team)