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Royal Gazette Christmas short story competition renamed

A Bermuda Christmas tradition will now honour the memory of a Bermudian cultural icon.

Beginning this year, The Royal Gazette's Christmas short story competition — which has run in this newspaper for more than half a century — will be named after the late Dr Stanley Ratteray.

Royal Gazette editorial consultant Tim Hodgson last night said Dr Ratteray, a dentist by profession and the Island's first Education Minister under the Westminster political system, had long recognised that encouragement of the arts nourished the roots of Bermudian culture.

“2013 marks the tenth anniversary of Dr Ratteray's death,” said Mr Hodgson. “So it is fitting to commemorate his many contributions to Bermuda's people — particularly our young people — by linking his name to a long-standing competition for creative writing, one which has always strived to promote both upcoming talent as well as the Island's cadre of established fiction writers.”

A longtime director of Bermuda Press Holdings Ltd, parent company of The Royal Gazette, he served on this newspaper's board from 1988 until his death in 2003. Dr Ratteray was renowned for his passion for the arts and culture in Bermuda.

Along with the late Sir Dudley Spurling, he established the Bermuda Arts Council and the Bermuda National Trust.

He was also one of the founders of the Menuhin Foundation, served as chairman of the Bermuda Musical and Dramatic Society (BMDS) for three years and did a six year stint as chairman of the Bermuda Festival.

Along with his daughter Aideen Ratteray Pryse — who has also served on the board of Bermuda Press Holdings Ltd — he was also an early driving force behind the Bermuda International Film Festival.

“Dr Ratteray shared the poet Robert Frost's view that a country which ignores its artists, writers and creators risks having ‘nothing to look backward to with pride and nothing to look forward to with hope',” said Mr Hodgson. “For more than 50 years, the Christmas Short Story Contest — which encourages entries built around specifically Bermudian themes, customs and traditions — has sought to foster the creative spirit in children and adults alike.

“In its own way, the contest exemplifies Dr Ratteray's overriding ambition to stimulate the arts, literature and creative activity among Bermudians and Bermuda residents.”

Dr Ratteray made his debut in Bermudian public life shortly after returning to the Island from Montreal's McGill University with a Doctorate of Dental Surgery in 1957.

As a founding member of The Progressive Group, he helped to strategise and coordinate the campaign which led to the desegregation of theatres, hotels and other public places in 1959.

He later joined the Committee for Universal Adult Suffrage (CUAS) which succeeded in achieving the extension of the franchise to all registered voters 21 years and older.

He served as a political advisor at the first Constitutional Conference in London in 1966 which drafted the Island's current political and legal framework and helped to found the United Bermuda Party, the Island's second political party.

Appointed to the Legislative Council (now the Senate) after the 1968 general election — the first held under the new two-party political system — Dr Ratteray presided over the desegregation of Bermuda's public schools as Education Minister.

Aside from his daughter Aideen — who will help to judge this year's inaugural Dr Stanley Ratteray Memorial Christmas Short Story Competition — his survivors include wife Pat, children Deirdre, and Derek and four grandchildren.

“Stan Ratteray was the single most generous individual I have ever had the privilege of knowing,” said Mr Hodgson. “He was unfailingly generous with his time, with his talents and with his counsel and all Bermudians, to one degree or another, were beneficiaries of his largesse.

“Given Christmas is the season of generosity, graciousness and giving, I think it's singularly appropriate that we are going to be celebrating both his life and his lifelong mission to nurture the arts at this time of year.”

The rules, categories and deadline's for this year's contest will be carried in The Royal Gazette later this week.

The late Dr Stanley Ratteray, was a patron of the arts and politician.

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Published October 15, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated October 15, 2013 at 12:15 am)

Royal Gazette Christmas short story competition renamed

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