‘Voice of Summer’ turns 90
A Bermudian institution in both cricket and politics, C.V. “Jim” Woolridge has looked back on his “wonderful” life as he turns 90 today.
Known as the “Voice of Summer”, Mr Woolridge's first Cup Match as a radio commentator came in 1965.
The former Flatts wicketkeeper-batsman's deep tones became a regular fixture in homes across the island during the cricket season, continuing right up until last year.
He also spent 33 years in Parliament, which included 14 years as the Minister of Tourism and a stint as Deputy Premier.
“I've had one of the most wonderful lives in one of the most beautiful little countries in the world. I'm a very fortunate person,” Mr Woolridge said yesterday from his Flatts Hill home.
Although he did not attend this year's Cup Match due to health reasons, Mr Woolridge followed all the action via the radio and the television.
“Once a sportsman, always a sportsman,” said the one-time Elliot School student, born one of ten children, who played his first match for the Eastern Counties aged 15.
“I remember [former Governor] Lord Martonmere once saying that cricket is the greatest character-building sport there is, and he was so correct,” he added. “If you can abide by the rules of this great game, you're ready for life — and you get out of it what you put in.”
Mr Woolridge recalled an occasion when he helped an elderly blind man across the street, and learnt the unexpected impact his commentary had on a certain section of the island's community.
“The man said to me, ‘Jim Woolridge, the Voice of Summer, what a pleasure to meet you. On behalf of Beacon Society for the Blind, I want to thank you for bringing this sport into our lives',” he said.
“I've never forgotten that.”
Mr Woolridge also looked back fondly on his political career with the United Bermuda Party, from 1968 to 2001.
“I greatly appreciate the support that was given to me by the people of [his constituency] Smith's South. I topped the polls at every election, which was a wonderful feeling,” he said.
“I also had the pleasure of travelling around the world, going everywhere from Australia to Hong Kong.”
The father-of-two and grandfather-of-four recalled receiving his CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in 2000 at Buckingham Palace — six years after receiving the award in the Queen's Birthday honours.
“I took my three granddaughters with me and I met so many outstanding people. Richard Branson and I became penpals during that period,” he said.
However, he was less enthused about some of the changes to Bermudian society since his idyllic childhood days.
“We've lost a lot of the warmth and the friendliness that we used to have, and I think we need to get that back,” Mr Woolridge said.
“We didn't have anything like television when I was young. Now people try to emulate what they see on telly, without recognising the consequences.”
While anticipating a “very quiet” birthday today with his family, Mr Woolridge dropped into conversation that he was marking another major milestone in his life.
Yesterday, he and wife Roslyn celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary together.
When asked the secret to a long and happy marriage, Mr Woolridge laughed and offered a succinct response: “Pay attention.”