Warwick club walks tall on 100th anniversary
More than 200 members and friends of the Warwick Workmen’s Club gathered on Saturday to celebrate the club’s founding and 100 years of service to Warwick Parish and the wider Bermuda community.
The club’s hall, scene of dramatic political, club and community meetings, was transformed into a grand ballroom for tributes, speeches and dancing.
Lorenzo Tucker, elected president in March, welcomed dignitaries, including club members Neville Tyrell, the Progressive Labour Party whip and Vance Campbell, who represents the PLP in Smith’s West.
Also present were Cole Simons, the Opposition leader, who has deep ties to the club and Douglas DeCouto, of the One Bermuda Alliance.
Owen Darrell, the Government Leader in the Senate and Minister of Youth, Culture and Sport, also attended.
Mr Tucker listed the club’s achievements during 2022, including promotions for its cricket teams in two leagues, a tiling project, assorted repairs, the installation of a 75in television in time for the football World Cup, a party cruise and expansion of prizes for a weekly raffle.
Mr Tucker asked for recognition of the club’s history, including acknowledgement of the move to the existing property in 1952 and the members who offered the mortgages on their homes to provide for the expansion of the facility and the burning of the deeds by 1969. He also listed the club’s past presidents.
Mr Tucker thanked the Bermuda Government for its recent grant of funds, which the club used for the infrastructure work.
He concluded by combining the club’s official and unofficial mottos: “For the good of all mankind, walk tall.”
Keynote speaker Glenn Fubler paid tribute to the club founders’ vision early in the past century, who took a discussion point in Martin T Wilson’s shop on Middle Road, Warwick — now Bo’s Lawn Equipment store — and created a community centre for Black people during the height of segregation.
A retired schoolteacher and former union leader, Mr Fubler briefly touched on the tragic shooting murder of a young Black male in the club’s parking lot in April — just as a kite-making workshop for children ended.
Mr Fubler said: “In the wake of the incident, I reached out to president Tucker and other community stakeholders — clubs, schools and churches — who responded. Let me suggest that the cycle of violence is a ‘signal’ for the need of some community transformation, some sort of renewal?
“The legacy of Warwick Workmen’s Club and other clubs, over the past century, offers some clues, some pointers, for the way forward.”
Citing the groundbreaking anthropological work of Frank Manning, who immersed himself in Black Bermudian workingmen’s clubs and associations in the late 1960s, Mr Fubler said Bermuda must reflect on such organisations’ track record as they face the challenges of the future:
• Provision of co-operative opportunities
• Scholarships and other assistance to people in need
• Venues for musical and other cultural community expression
• Forging political alliances
• The movement in general
Mr Fubler highlighted Warwick Workmen’s Club in providing a venue for discussions leading to the resolution of the 1981 general strike.
He concluded: “Here we are in November 5, 2022, and we are all blessed with an opportunity to build on this considerable legacy. We are all receiving the ‘signs and signals’ — youth violence, global challenges and economic pressures, et cetera. In what ways can we pick up those batons to move forward?
“Whatever way we do so, let’s exercise that spirit of concern, not only for some, but for all others; that spirit of ‘One Love’.”
Also honoured during the evening was Nigel Burgess, the immediate past president, who was awarded a life membership, and there were honorary memberships for John Nusum and Albert “Popeye” Wilson, long-term service recognition for members Heather Lightbourne-Bean and Sinclair Caines, Earlston “Timbuck” Lightbourne, the custodian of the property, and Gary Fray, a former president of the club.
The evening was catered with food from its “Amen Corner” neighbour, The Fourways Inn.