David Thompson succumbs to cancer

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados: Prime Minister David Thompson has died at the age of 48. He passed away at 2:10 a.m. last Saturday, just over a month after the country learned he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Thompson died at his private residence in Mapps, St. Phillip, with his family by his side.

He is survived by his wife, Mara, and three daughters – Mischa, Oya and Osa-Marie. He is also survived by his mother, Margaret Knight and father, Charles Thompson.

Thompson announced to the nation in May that he had been suffering from stomach pains. On September 16, his personal physical revealed the diagnosis.

Thompson underwent chemotherapy treatment in New York City to reduce the size of the tumour in his pancreas.

Last month, in an audio address to the nation, Thompson announced he had reshuffled his Cabinet, giving up much of his responsibilities to other ministers, including passing over the portfolio of Finance to Chris Sinckler.

Thompson’s former deputy, Freundel Stuart, is now the nation’s Prime Minister.

Thompson became Barbados’ sixth elected, post-independence leader after leading his Democratic Labour Party (DLP) to victory in the January 15, 2008 elections.

He is the third Barbadian leader to die in office. The country’s first Prime Minister, Errol Barrow, and his successor, Tom Adams, also passed away while serving in office.

Thompson was born on Christmas Day, 1961, in London, England, the third of his parents’ six children. His early childhood was spent in London and Barbados.

He completed his secondary schooling at Combermere, securing a Barbados Exhibition in 1979, and returned to his alma mater to teach before pursuing a law degree at the University of the West Indies, where he graduated with honours in 1984. He subsequently went to law school and went to work at the law firm of Prime Minister Barrow, who groomed him for leadership.

Following Barrow’s death in 1987, Thompson successfully contested the by-election in the constituency of St. John, which he represented up to the time of his death.

His first Cabinet appointment was in 1991 when the prime minister at the time, Erskine Sandiford, made him Minister of Community Development and Culture.

From 1992 to 1993, he was switched to the Ministry of Finance as Minister of State, and between 1993 and 1994, he assumed full responsibility for that Ministry.

Thompson became leader of the DLP when Sandiford resigned after defeat in a parliamentary no-confidence motion.

In 2001, Thompson resigned as party leader and Clive Mascoll took over the DLP. However, when Mascoll switched allegiance to the then ruling Barbados Labour Party (BLP), Thompson became opposition leader and DLP president in 2006.

Two years later, he led the DLP to victory in the general elections as the party took 20 of the 30 parliamentary seats, pushing the BLP into Opposition.

Over the years, Thompson has also provided consultancy services to a number of regional and international organizations, including the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, the Caribbean Law Institute, the Caribbean Policy Development Centre and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat.

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