Lloyd’s a man of many talents

  • Music man: Lloyd Williams practising the flute which he took up after the suggestion that he diversify (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

    Music man: Lloyd Williams practising the flute which he took up after the suggestion that he diversify (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

  • Mother and son: Lloyd Williams, right, with his mother, Mary, 103 who moved to Bermuda when she was aged 2 (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

    Mother and son: Lloyd Williams, right, with his mother, Mary, 103 who moved to Bermuda when she was aged 2 (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

Lloyd Williams moved to Nevis and thought it was a good time to try farming.

He’d never planted anything in his life but there was a lot more open land there than in Bermuda and agriculture was important to his Bahá’í faith.

“I was a city boy,” the 75-year-old said. “I grew up in Hamilton between Court Street, Elliott Street and Princess Street. My mom planted things, but gardening never crossed my mind back then.”

Clueless in 1992, he had to get someone from Nevis’s Agricultural Department to show him how to plant cucumber seeds.

“He said, ‘Just open up the soil, drop the seed in and cover it back up,’” Mr Williams laughed. “I said, ‘That’s it?’ He said, ‘That’s it.’ I was off and running.”

His first crop was a bumper one and got him hooked. His garden kept expanding until, eventually, it reached two acres.

After a few years, he switched to hydroponic farming, a method that uses water instead of soil to grow plants at a faster rate. Mr Williams’s weekly lettuce crop is now 400 head a week.

“We are in business to make money,” he said. “I have sold to supermarkets, hotels and even shipped vegetables to St Kitts. It has become quite a good business.”

One plus is that it’s not all that time consuming.

“With two people you can go in at 8am and be done by 12pm,” he said.

He and his wife, Mildred, moved to Nevis looking for a more relaxed way of life. Mr Williams had been an entertainer, performing in the Neptune Lounge at the Fairmont Southampton six nights a week.

“After our four children grew up, my wife and I decided to ‘pioneer’,” he said. “We are Bahá’ís. It’s similar to doing missionary work. I was thinking about Africa, but then someone said, ‘Your mother is from St Kitts, why don’t you apply for status?’”

His 103-year-old mother, Mary, left the Caribbean island for Bermuda at age 2.

It was enough of a connection for Mr Williams, who moved with his wife to the parish of St Thomas. Their oldest daughter Angela followed soon after with her son, Terron Webb.

“It wasn’t hard to leave Bermuda,” Mr Williams said. “I had a mission and decided to leave those six nights a week behind and go into the unknown.”

He quickly found a job performing at Nisbet Plantation Beach Club, a sister hotel to The Reefs. His wife opened a gift shop.

Their “pioneering work” went along quietly.

“The Bahá’ís don’t really preach to people,” he said. “We have conversations. I might invite you over for dinner, and then talk about some of my beliefs.”

He returned to Bermuda three months ago, to care for his mother.

She raised him and his younger brother, Michael, largely on her own after their father, Treadwell, died in a motorcycle accident when Mr Williams was 4.

“I’m back now for the foreseeable future,” he said. “I am thankful that she brought me into being. I am thankful that when I was 17 and 18 she didn’t discourage me from being a Bahá’í. I am thankful that in the Bahá’í faith, the way to serve God is to serve mankind.”

His wife pops in and out of Bermuda; their daughter Angela is helping to care for his hydroponic farm.

He hasn’t looked for work as an entertainer yet, but has performed a couple of times with his friend Dennis Fox.

Mr Williams got interested in music as a young boy, taught to play the trumpet by The Salvation Army.

“After high school, I started practising like crazy,” he said.

His teacher, Ghandi Burgess, suggested he diversify. He switched to the saxophone and later added flute to the mix.

In the late 1960s, he started playing with The Invaders, a local band known for the tune Spacing Out.

“Ralph Richardson was the leader of the band at the time and I came in to replace another saxophonist,” he said. “Later on, I decided I needed to be playing professionally. I was married.

“I went up to the Southampton Princess one day to drive around. I met up with musicians Pinky Steede and Ray Onley. They were just hanging out on break, but they had the house band at the Sonesta, the Ray Onley Orchestra. Pinky invited me down to sit in and I got a gig. I started working there in 1974.”

But music wasn’t enough to pay the bills so, over the years, he did a number of other things including the night shift at ZBM radio.

Later, he sold records for Pearman Watlington&Co. It was there that he met his future wife.

The couple will celebrate their 49th anniversary on November 8.

Mr Williams was a panellist at an independence forum held last week at the Bermuda Industrial Union.

He told the audience of his experiences in Nevis, which achieved full independence from England only nine years before he arrived there.

“It was interesting to see the growth of a young, small independent country,” he said.

Although a lot more built up today, when he arrived in Nevis there were few paved roads or stoplights. His first house there had no hot water. To get a hot bath, he had to heat up water in a pot.

But the real difference between Nevis and Bermuda was that the Caribbean nation didn’t have much to lose by leaving England.

“If there was anywhere to fall in Nevis, you just tripped,” he said. “If you fell in Bermuda it would be a big drop.”

Despite that, Mr Williams believes that Bermuda has developed sufficient areas of expertise to limit its risk.

He thinks that the island should make an arrangement that, in lieu of reparations for slavery, it keeps all the benefits of being associated with England, but has complete autonomy over its affairs.

In addition to Angela, Mr and Mrs Williams have three children — Natasha, Kamal and Kali — and nine grandchildren.

Lifestyle profiles the island’s senior citizens every Tuesday. Contact Jessie Moniz Hardy on 278-0150 or jmhardy@royalgazette.com with their full name, contact details and the reason you are suggesting them

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Published Aug 27, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Aug 27, 2019 at 1:38 am)

Lloyd’s a man of many talents

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