Front Page
January 14, 2014
Survivors left to mourn loss of three generations of family

Thousands flocked to the coastal village of Rose Bank last Saturday to pay final respects to departed members of the Nanton family and lend support to the survivors.{{more}}

Five members of the family – Walsy, 73, his wife Herna, 70, their daughter Hazel, 50, and two grandsons Bernard, 24 and Bartholomew, 18, perished after a landslide off Troumaca caused a house to collapse on to their family home on Christmas Eve; four other family members escaped with injuries.

As early as 10 a.m. persons began arriving at the North Leeward village, where volunteer crews were still doing clean-up work and clearing areas to facilitate parking.

When the four hearses arrived around 11 a.m., bearing the remains of Walsy, Herna, Hazel and Bernard, many were already waiting at the church, while many others lined the streets and some visited the site where the tragedy had occurred.

The funeral service took place at the Rose Bank Anglican Church, which was filled to capacity, with standing room only.

The crowd surrounded the building, and into the narrow street, all the way to the village square, where the vast multitudes gathered and engaged in ritual dances, to the music of the Rose Bank Folk Band, which played upbeat funeral music.

As intermittent showers poured, many sought shelter in porches, in the community centre, which is being used as an emergency shelter and in parked vehicles.

Vehicles were parked in a line from Dark View, the village just south of Rose Bank all the way to Troumaca, creating a traffic nightmare, as it took what seemed like an hour to get anywhere in any direction.

The funeral service was conducted by the Bishop of the Windward Islands, C. Leopold Friday, who was supported by several other members of the Anglican clergy, including parish priest of St Phillips Mesopotamia Father Ashton Francis, who delivered the homily.

Also in attendance were Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace, Parliamentary Representative Roland “Patel” Matthews, as well as many others from various walks of life and from every corner of the state, all united and humbled by the circumstances that caused them to be there.

Eulogies and tributes were read by Noel Soleyn, Vivian Crooke, Glenroy King and Frederica King.

“This tragedy is due to the passing of a nameless weather system; it was of little significance to the meteorologists, we must admit that this Christmas was a sad one, but the Lord will wipe all tears from our eyes, but we have to stay connected to God”, Father Francis intoned in the homily.

“We have to stay connected to God through acts of public worship and private prayer,” he further stated.

After the service, the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force (RSVGPF) band led the procession about halfway to the cemetery located at Dark View, then the music was taken over by the Rose Bank Folk Band, a favourite at funerals throughout the country. While the younger persons led the procession with dancing and upbeat singing to the band, the rest of the procession followed for as far as the eyes could see.

At the tiny hillside cemetery, with a backdrop of landslides and debris, a modest crowd gathered around the graves, while the surrounding embankments were lined with crowds looking down into the ravine where the burial took place.

As brief showers of rain fell, the surviving family members gathered around the graves in sombre mood, grieving and being comforted by one another and well-wishers.

While the departed met their deaths in unusual circumstances, one other unusual aspect of the funeral was the fact that there were two graves for the four coffins. Walsy was buried with his wife, while Bernard and his aunt shared the same grave.

Bartholomew, a college student who lived at Barrouallie with his father and stepmother, and who was only spending the holidays with his maternal grandparents at the time of his demise, was buried in Barrouallie last Thursday.(TY)