Log In

Reset Password

Tributes paid to former Auditor-General Heather Jacobs Matthews

First Prev 1 2 Next Last
Consumate professional: Heather Jacobs Matthews
Consumate professional: Heather Jacobs Matthews (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Former Auditor-General Heather Jacobs Matthews died yesterday after a decade-long battle with cancer.

Ms Jacobs Matthews, who was 69, served from 2009 to 2016 and was responsible for the island’s financial reporting through the turbulence of the Great Recession.

She was often at loggerheads with the Government over adherence to financial instructions.

She continued in the high-pressure role even after thyroid cancer was diagnosed in 2011.

Her work included detailed reports that told taxpayers how public funds had been misspent.

A 2015 report that highlighted audits of the Consolidated Fund for the years ending March 31 2010, 2011 and 2012 led to a Commission of Inquiry in 2016.

The report, which covered years when the Progressive Labour Party held power, led some to accuse Ms Jacobs Matthews of bias against the PLP.

Her reporting sounded the alarm over gaps in the controls over large Government projects, as well as the island’s rising debt.

Ms Jacobs Matthews flagged up spending on major construction projects including the Transport Control Department’s emissions centre and the Port Royal Golf Course.

The Commission of Inquiry also looked into the building of a new terminal the airport, a project started under a One Bermuda Alliance government.

Ms Jacobs Matthews also accused the Government of “blatant disregard” for financial controls over the construction of Heritage Wharf in Dockyard.

The self-confessed workaholic told The Royal Gazette in 1993 that she had always wanted to be an accountant.

She added: “I like things neat and tidy.”

Ms Jacobs Matthews attended the Central School, now Victor Scott Primary and the Berkeley Institute, where she finished at 15.

She was one of the first students at the forerunner to the Bermuda College, the Sixth Form Centre.

She studied at Dalhousie University in Canada after stints at the Bank of Bermuda and Butterfield Bank, and studying accountancy at night school.

She graduated with a Bachelor's degree in commerce with distinction and majoring in accounting in 1976.

After working at Gray & Kempe/Price Waterhouse, she was appointed Assistant Auditor for the Government in 1980.

She was promoted to Deputy Auditor, a role she held for nine years, and provided senior managerial support to the Government Auditor.

She was appointed Tax Commissioner in 1989, a role she held for four years.

Ms Jacobs Matthews became Accountant General in 1993, but returned to the Tax Commissioner position in 1999 and served for another decade.

She became the first Black woman to serve as Auditor-General when she was appointed in 2009.

Ms Jacobs Matthews retired in May 2016 and George Fergusson, then the Governor, commended her for the “enormous commitment and professionalism” she brought to the job.

She was married to Edward “Tom” Matthews and the couple had two children, Suella and Damien.

Heather Thomas, the Auditor-General, yesterday praised Ms Jacobs Matthews “tireless dedication” to promotion of “an accountable and transparent Government”.

Her death was announced in the House of Assembly by Wayne Furbert, the Minister for the Cabinet Office.

Lovitta Foggo, the PLP MP for St David’s, told the House of Assembly she was “first class in her field”.

Cole Simons, the Opposition leader, said Ms Jacobs Matthews was committed to service and to the island.

He said: “She was a warm person.”

“There was nothing she wouldn’t do for the Public Accounts Committee or Members of Parliament, and she always had an open door.”

Dennis Lister, the Speaker of the House, praised her hard work with the PAC.

He said: “She always provided true leadership on that committee.

“She was humble and you would always get a straight answer from her when questions were put to her.”

Edward Ball, of the Bermuda Public Services Union, said: “Her passion of ensuring that Bermuda’s tax dollars were spent wisely and prudently was at times frowned upon by some politicians.

“However, her steadfastness is immeasurable and inexpressible.”

Mr Ball said she had steered the development of young Bermudian staff “wherever she worked”.

He added: “Ms Jacobs Matthews was a resource to the BPSU and encouraged her staff to participate in union activities.

“To her daughter Suella, son Damien and the extended family, we express our sincere condolences.“

Heather Antoinette Jacobs Matthews, a former Auditor-General, was born on November 5, 1951. She died on March 15, 2021, aged 69.

You must be Registered or to post comment or to vote.

Published March 16, 2021 at 8:26 am (Updated March 16, 2021 at 8:32 am)

Tributes paid to former Auditor-General Heather Jacobs Matthews

What you
Need to
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon