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Former tourism booster in UK dies

Sheelagh Greene, who promoted the island in British tourism for decades, pictured in Bermuda (Photograph supplied)

An “ardent advocate” for Bermuda who ran the island’s tourism office in London for decades has died.

Sheelagh Greene was 93.

Ms Greene was the daughter of a judge, Maurice Greene, who served in what was then Britain’s Colonial Service.

His job took the family through Britain’s Mediterranean territories, from Cyprus to Palestine, before they moved to Bermuda from 1945 to 1949.

Ms Greene’s sister, Diana Diel, said: “Our father was offered a retirement job winding up the censorship office for the Crown.”

The Imperial Censorship Station was set up in the Second World War to check international mail for intelligence being passed to the enemy.

It operated from 1940 until 1944, when censorship of the mail that passed through Bermuda shifted to the United States.

A Prize Court was established in Bermuda to determine what should be done with intercepted mail, which included contraband and valuables as well as items such as artwork taken from ships.

Ms Diel said her father had come home from the office one day and emptied a bag of diamonds on to their dining table.

She added: “He brought them home for safekeeping.

“Our mother asked if he thought they might miss a few – he said ’yes’.”

Ms Diel and her mother returned to Britain after the war, but Ms Greene remained with their father in Bermuda until his work concluded.

Travel agencies started to become popular with the rise of mass commercial travel after the end of the conflict.

Ms Greene took a job at a travel agent on Front Street in Hamilton, Queenie Penboss Associates.

Ms Diel said: “We had travelled all our lives – a travel agency seemed the right place for her.”

Ms Greene applied for a promotions job at the Bermuda Trade Development Office in London after she returned to the UK.

The office, which later became the Bermuda Department of Tourism and News Bureau in England, was responsible marketing the island to British people.

She was hired in 1950 and rose through the ranks, devoting much of her life to championing Bermuda as a tourism destination.

The Bermuda Recorder reported in 1973 that most of the office’s staff in the early days had never been to Bermuda.

Another woman sales representative, also with Bermuda experience, joined in 1951, when there was still little tourism from the UK to Bermuda.

The Recorder added: “They both had the feeling that the managers did not know what to make of them, but nevertheless were courteous to them.”

The office gradually acquired Bermuda cedar furniture and murals of Bermuda scenes.

Ms Diel said her sister’s “extraordinarily retentive memory for names and events” served her well in the business.

She travelled often to the island, staying with her family, meeting friends and making the rounds at the hotels to stay up to date on what was available for guests.

Ms Greene was fluent in French and German and delivered presentations on the attractions of Bermuda on trips to Europe.

Her funeral notice said: “She was an ardent advocate for Bermuda and was devoted to the goal of ensuring Bermuda had the best possible representation for tourism.”

It added: “Her entire working life was dedicated to the island which she loved.”

Ms Greene was the office manager in London when she retired in 1989.

Ms Diel recalled her as “a formidable, very smart lady who did not suffer fools”.

She added: “She was able to mix with everybody – she adored children, made friends with all the stall owners in the marketplace on the North End Road and was perfectly happy having dinner at Government House.”

Sheelagh Cherry Greene, who became manager at the Bermuda Department of Tourism office in Britain, was born on July 6, 1927. She died on January 30, 2021. Ms Greene was 93.

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Published February 10, 2021 at 8:24 am (Updated February 10, 2021 at 8:53 am)

Former tourism booster in UK dies

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