Sporting legend Symonds honoured by school
Sporting legend Calvin “Bummy” Symonds was honoured yesterday by his former primary school, Northlands, with the naming of their courtyard after him.
In a ceremony attended by Government officials, including David Burt, the Premier, Deputy Premier Walter Raban and Lovitta Foggo, the Minister of Labour, Community Affairs and Sport, the students at the school came out of their classrooms to witness the event and learn about Symonds’ achievements as both a top cricketer and footballer.
“With this celebration and commemoration of the great Calvin “Bummy” Symonds, what better way to start a year but by doing something like this,” Foggo told the crowd.
“I can say I’m very pleased because I’m here standing as the Minister of Sports and also as the Minister for Culture, and this event recognises both our culture and our sporting hero Mr Cal “Bummy” Symonds. “Indeed he is a sporting legend.
“Some of you may be wondering why we are doing this here today. We’re doing it here at Northlands because — and this will be real important to our Northlands students — Mr Symonds started his education here at Northlands. He attests to the fact that it was a critical part of his nurturing and it helped him to hone his sporting skills.
“Every Northlands student who walks through here will be able to look at something and see a name and know that is somebody who came to your great school, and that you can aspire to be like him and better.”
Foggo added: “Mr Symonds had several sporting disciplines but it is his cricket that captured the heart and mind of all of Bermuda. During his early years he played for such clubs as Western Stars, St George’s Cricket Club, Pond Hill Stars and PHC.
“He also represented Bermuda in unofficial matches between 1952 and 1955. We thank you, Mr Symonds, for your dedication to sports in Bermuda and beyond. We thank you for imparting your knowledge of cricket and football to those who came behind you. Why he is so special to me is because he is a St George’s Cup Match legend!”
Premier Burt noted: “What is particularly important on this day is that we have so many students out today and there are Bermudian sporting legends out here in support of a Bermudian sporting legend. It’s important to make sure to recognise our culture, recognise our history and to make sure that persons who contributed to our social fabric and history are remembered.
“I’m particularly proud to be here today as the leader of the Government as we unveil this plaque and the naming of this area in your honour. Congratulations.”
Symonds made his name as an outstanding Cup Match captain for St George’s, captaining the team to an unbeaten run in the 1960s when he won eight and drew one match between 1961 and 1969.
“I’m not shy, never was shy, but I can’t see the ball like I used to,” said Symonds, now aged 87. He was accompanied by wife Valerie and son and daughter Cal Jr and Jeanmairé and supported by other notable sportsmen during his era like such as Eldon Raynor, Dennis Wainwright, Lee Raynor, St Clair “Brinky” Tucker and Randy Horton.
“I can remember coming to Northlands when my mother brought me to this school. I was living on St John’s Road, not too far from here, and I was six years old, in those days that was when kids were allowed to go to school.
“When she brought me to school I had my cricket bat with me and when she arrived my principal, Ismay Hinson, asked my ‘why do you have this piece of wood’ and I told her it was not a piece of wood, it’s a cricket bat which my uncle made for me. She said ‘you can’t take it into your class, I have to take it from you’.
“Though upset, my mother said give it to her. This area you are sitting in was my playing area and success came in football and cricket. Education was like a second fiddle to me, but I want to say to the kids today to do the best in your sporting endeavours but your education comes first!”
Horton, who went on to become a school principal before going into politics as a former Speaker of the House, was also outstanding in football and cricket, including a stint with the new York Cosmos from 1971 to ‘76. He first played for Somerset in Cup Match in the 1960s and was an opposing captain to Symonds during the dominant period for St George’s. He said the tribute is fitting.
“First of all, in terms of the naming of the yard, I think it is important for us to be naming things and buildings after people who have made contributions in this country, while they are living,” said Horton who captained against Symonds in 1968 and ‘69.
“I applaud the Minister, it’s a great thing to do, and much more needs to be done. It’s great to have the kids out to witness it. It happened before, when I was a Minister we named TN Tatem, Dalton E Tucker, the [WER Joell] Tennis Stadium and I just hope it continues.”
Horton added: “I have the greatest respect for “Bummy”, lots of people think “Bummy” and I were enemies. I made my debut in 1963 and was a young captain in 1968.
“After Cup Match “Bummy” and I used to go up to Bermudiana Beach Club and sit off on the Saturday and talk about the game. He did a lot to help me in my understanding of the game.”
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