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Our lives in 2021: The stories that inspired and entertained us

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Robert Sheen retired from Island Glass, age 90 (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Robert Sheen wasn’t nominated as one of Bermuda's most handsome males of 2022.

The 90-year-old was likely too busy to be offended by the slight. In January, as he retired from Island Glass, he anticipated constantly being active.

“Even at home I don’t sit and read books or anything like that. I’m either in the garden or in my workshop doing cedar craftwork, making souvenirs and things.”

Zola French-Ray displayed true kindness in February. The West Pembroke Primary School teacher gave the 70-inch smart TV she won to Gloria Hayward, the Lindo's cashier who insisted she enter the supermarket's Super Bowl draw. Thinking it might become a life lesson for her one-year-old son Lucas, Ms French-Ray took a picture of him and Ms Hayward at the handover.

“I want to tell him the story one day – you’re never too young to learn about the gift of giving.”

Former swimming champion Ian Raynor was also in the news in February after he suffered a stroke following years of drug abuse. A GoFundMe page was started to help the then 48-year-old get back on his feet. Said his brother Mark: “Where there’s life there’s hope – that’s my motto. I don’t want his struggle to be a waste. If his challenge can inspire someone else to improve, at least his suffering has been worth something."

Meliseanna Gibbons, a Bermudian doctor in New York, spoke in March about the year she spent on the Covid-19 frontline. At Wyckoff Medical Center in 2020 she bravely suited up in PPE to confirm the first coronavirus death in the state; ultimately the entire hospital was turned into an ICU. Staff struggled to cope with the more than 2,000 people infected during the early days – when the disease was at its peak and doctors had no idea what they were up against or how to fight it: “So many people stepped up to the plate knowing that they could lose their lives. That’s something that I’ll never forget. It’s not just a story, it’s not just a documentary; it’s not just a history lesson. It’s real life. And I think that’s what I’ll take out of that whole experience.”

Freida Nusum lost her battle with Covid-19. Her husband Sheridan believes the heart problems he suffers from were caused by the disease (Photograph supplied)

In April, Sheridan Nusum's story about his bout with Covid-19 caught readers' attention. The 64-year-old lost his wife Freida to the disease and believes it caused the heart problems he continued experiencing months later.

"You have no clue how this demon will affect your life,” he said. “Please pay attention and be safe; if not for yourself, for your loved ones.”

In May, the Bermuda College Village was put on Pride Bermuda's list of "trailblazing queer people and groups".

"You could see that people were polarised at that time," said Kennita Perry, a counsellor who advocated for the organisation in 2017. "Some people were very adamant that a person was bad or was wrong for being who they were, and I knew that was not true. Everyone has the right to feel safe and to be who they are."

Numair Khan is the youngest in the Carribean and the second youngest in the world to qualify as a chartered certified accountant (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

A month later, Bermuda learnt how 14-year-old Numair Khan became the second youngest person in the world to qualify as a chartered certified accountant.

"Most people tend to underestimate themselves," he said. "They limit themselves to 50 per cent or 60 per cent but to be honest, if you push yourself it’s not as hard as it seems. You realise you can do a lot more than you think you can. I think everybody can do it; everybody has the potential.”

Fiyah Marshall's single, Gunna Get It, came out in July. He filmed the video here with an all-Bermudian crew and Bermudian models. The song was “a collaboration” with multi-platinum producer Duane “DaRock” Ramos whose clients include Common and Jay-Z.

“It was great,” Fiyah said. “I’ve been dying to do it. I think the new music I’m starting to put out is my best music to date. It’s just the first of many coming out.”

Bermuda chef Jahdre Hayward and his wife Amanda outside their award-winning new UK restaurant (Photograph supplied)

In August, Jahdre Hayward shared his journey from "the back of town" to Essex, England, where he and his wife Amanda opened a restaurant in 2013.

Haywards has three Rosettes, a ranking given to only ten per cent of properties within Britain’s AA Restaurant Guide.

“I think if I didn’t have certain people in my life to push me I wouldn’t be where I am now,” said Mr Hayward. “I grew up on The Glebe Road in Pembroke – St Monica’s Road, 42nd Street, I grew up around there.

“We joined something called Big Brothers/Big Sisters. I was paired with a man called Jeff Conyers who is amazing. I wouldn’t be where I am today without him."

In September, Claudette Baisden produced a fundraising calendar for cancer charity Pals. For each month, she posed in clothes bought from thrift stores as a way of paying tribute to her grandmother, Myrtle Baisden, and her mother, Diane Sallin, who died back to back in 2018.

"For [my family] to be where we are today, my grandmother scrubbed floors; she had three jobs. We didn’t have a choice but to shop in thrift shops because we didn’t have the money."

Zakiya Francis-Jones (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Zakiya Francis-Jones got everybody talking in October. Having lost her healthcare job two months before her daughter was due, she was close to becoming homeless when she got the idea to start her own business. Always Best Senior Care Services offers mobile activities and caregiving for seniors and adults with disabilities.

Response has been "overwhelming".

"If I can help the next person who's going through or went through what I went through maybe they can [come to understand that] starting a business is the way to go. Nobody would hire me and it wasn’t because I wasn’t qualified, it was because I was pregnant."

In November Charmaine Tucker shared her battle with lung cancer in hopes of raising awareness and starting a dialogue about regular screening.

"This whole thing is a miracle. It was God – a blessing. I've never smoked and with lung cancer in non-smokers when you find out it's usually already too late.

"That’s why I really want to have a voice for lung cancer – to make people more aware …. After 50 should we get [a] CAT scan?"

December brought the competition that Robert Sheen wasn’t nominated for – the most handsome man of Bermuda in 2022. Within a week of its launch on social media, close to 70 men were nominated and hundreds of votes were cast. In the end, the group was narrowed down to three: Ardon Heyliger, Jeff Baron and Ries Van Putten.

You will have to wait until tonight to find out who won!

Ardon Heyliger (Photograph supplied)

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Published January 02, 2022 at 1:06 pm (Updated January 02, 2022 at 1:06 pm)

Our lives in 2021: The stories that inspired and entertained us

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