By RON FANFAIR
Patrick Husbands has been the top jockey in Canada this decade. And the Brampton Sports Hall of Famer has been recognized for his brilliance in the saddle with the Errol Walton Barrow memorial award which he received at the Barbados Ball Canada Aid (BBCA) seventh annual charity gala. The award was launched in 2008 to recognize a Barbadian in the Diaspora for outstanding professional and/or community service.
The late Barbadian Prime Minister and founder of the Democratic Labour Party, trained with the Royal Air Force in the Maritimes and was conferred with an honorary doctorate of Civil Law by McGill University in 1966, the same year he led his country to independence.
Husbands captured his seventh Woodbine riding title and a record seventh Outstanding Jockey Sovereign crown last season while becoming the only rider to surpass the $10 million mark in purse earnings in 2009.
The 2003 Barbados Service Star recipient began his riding career at Woodbine in 1994. The first season was challenging as Husbands, who won the prestigious Cockspur event in Barbados at age 16, failed to secure a ride in the first five weeks and was contemplating returning home when his older brother Aubrey intervened an encouraged him to stay.
He won 12 races that year, 50 the following season and his first stakes event in 1998 when he posted 131 wins in 780 starts. Last October, Husbands reached a milestone 2,000th win aboard the three-year-old gelding, Grazettes Landing, owned by Ottawa Senators Hockey Club proprietor Eugene Melnyk.
The funds accrued from this year’s gala will go towards the purchase of dialysis equipment for Barbados’ Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
“The need for this equipment increases every year as the incidences of kidney failure goes up,” said Barbados Labour Minister Dr. Esther Byer-Suckhoo who attended the gala. “This is directly related to an increase in the incidence of diabetes which is a major cause of kidney failure.”
Inactivity leads to various diseases, including diabetes and Byer-Suckhoo is concerned that regular physical activity among young people, which she says is relegated to optional status, can accelerate the metabolic disorder.
“I look forward to the day when I would see a leaner and trimmer Barbados with its citizens living off the land and spending less to import food,” she said. “I want us to be more active, producing more athletes and I want to see a continuous drop in chronic non-communicable diseases including diabetes. Maybe someday, we wouldn’t need a dialysis machine.”
The BBCA has presented nearly $53,000 in scholarships in the past seven years in addition to this year’s Barbadian-Canadian Friendship $5,000 academic prize which was awarded to York University’s Daren Cadogan who is a third-year health faculty student.
The scholarship winners were McGill University freshman Anna-Maria Broomes, treasurer of the local chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers, University of Waterloo Urban and Regional Planning student Nicholas Gooding, Markham African Caribbean Association volunteer and high school graduate Anthon Grogan who enters Humber College in the fall to pursue media studies, J. Clarke Richardson graduate Monique Marshall who is enrolled in the University of Ontario Institute of Technology’s Criminal Justice and Policy Studies program and Renee Welch who graduated from Agincourt College and is pursuing undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto.
“This award is very important to me and I burst into tears when I was informed that I was a recipient of this bursary,” said Welch who aspires to be a social worker. “I am paying for my education because I did not want to be a financial burden on my mother and I did not want to take OSAP.”
Former Barbados Consul General in Toronto, Kay McConney, who conceived the idea to set up the organization to provide annual post secondary bursaries and financial assistance to charitable organizations that offer health care services and programs and assist youth with disabilities, Consul General Leroy McLean and High Commissioner Evelyn Greaves, attended the gala.