Bequia centenarian celebrates 101st birthday  surrounded  by her children (+Video)
Vesta Bunyan of Port Elizabeth, Bequia on her 101st birthday surrounded by seven of her nine children. From left: George, Erma, Christine, Hyacinth, Helen, Orman and Yvonne. Missing are Patrick and David.
March 31, 2023

Bequia centenarian celebrates 101st birthday surrounded by her children (+Video)

Vesta Helen Duncan-Bunyan was born on March 5, 1922. Her parents were Beatrice Tannis and John Duncan of O’Car, Bequia, St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The circumstances of her birth might not have been remarkable except for the impact of a devastating hurricane that approached Port Elizabeth harbour via the Western Cay months before her birth.

People on the lookout could see what appeared to be a vessel in great distress. John, a sailor by profession, left his pregnant partner and together with a crew, sailed towards the approaching storm, to lend aid to their fellow seamen.


Neither the vessel nor the men on board returned. All was lost.

The unborn child Vesta was destined to be fatherless. Five months later, her still grieving mother and five older siblings warmly greeted the new addition to the family, thus began her story.

Thankfully, her mother, a woman of strong faith, was also quite resilient. She dedicated herself to the care and wellness of her family. Growing up as the youngest child, Vesta faced many challenges. Her single mother was a disciplinarian who worked at providing a good life for her family. Attendance at school was compulsory for her children.

Vesta Bunyan (seated, centre) with eight of her nine children on the occasion of her 100th birthday in 2022. From left: Helen, Yvonne, George, David, Erma, Christine, Orman and Patrick. Missing is Hyacinth.

Vesta, in addition to being a bright and curious child, was passionate about the outdoors. She excelled at sports such as cricket, rowing and fishing. For several years, she was the captain of the Bequia Women’s Cricket Team. Later in life, she developed an interest in construction. Still standing today, is a retaining wall on the main road, going around Belmont Hill, for which she was foreman on the construction team. Later, during her travels, she became an avid quilter.

On December 26, 1945, at the tender age of 22, she married the love of her life Everard Cunningham-Bunyan. This union produced nine children; five girls and four boys. Her marriage lasted until the death of her husband in December 2008.

Vesta and her husband, who was a sailor, travelled abroad and resided for a number of years in Montreal, Canada. Her children all reside in North America, with the exception of her eldest son, who is her neighbour on Bequia.

Vesta speaking whilst Gillian Leslie holds the microphone at her 100th birthday church Thanksgiving Service at the St Mary’s Anglican Church in Bequia in 2022.

Since returning home from abroad, she has been very involved in her church community. As a member of the Anglican Parish of St Mary’s, she has served on the church council and has been president of the St Peter’s Guild, one of the church’s organizations.

For the past few years, due to limited mobility, and after falling on more than one occasion, she has been assisted at home by a live-in caregiver. She remains in constant contact with members of the church and clergy, who attend to her needs.

Her children visit her at least once a year, especially to celebrate her birthday. Her 18 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren also visit from time to time. Vesta remains mentally alert and continues to have a great sense of humour.

George singing a song he wrote for his mother’s 100th birthday. He rendered it at the 100th birthday Thanksgiving Church Service held on March 5, 2022 at St Mary’s Anglican Church in Bequia. At left is Rev. Kenwick “PG” Lewis, Deacon, who officiated at the service, and at right is Gillian Leslie.

Contributed by Helen Bunyan of Canada and Brennetta Dublin of Bequia

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Brennetta Dublin (left) and others considered it important to travel from mainland St Vincent to celebrate with Vesta on her milestone 100th birthday in 2022.