by T Michael Findlay
Sir Arthur Cecil Cyrus was a genius in the field of medicine; a loving and dedicated husband, father, and grandfather; and an icon as a player and administrator of squash, the sport he introduced to St Vincent and made a tremendous personal financial input to promote and develop the sport of in the country.
Since Sir Cecil’s return to St Vincent in 1963 after qualifying as a Medical Practitioner and Surgeon in the United Kingdom, he touched the lives of thousands of Vincentians, not only through his vast knowledge of medicine, but because of his great skills as a surgeon, and his passion for sport, primarily squash.
Two of my daughters are among those people whose lives he touched, and my family owe him a debt of gratitude which we can never repay.
In January, 1980, when my second daughter, Maxine was 13 years old, she was involved in a motor cycle accident and sustained a serious break of her left hip.
The ball (femoral head) at the top of the thigh bone (femur) was knocked out of the rounded socket (acetabulum) in the pelvis, and in addition, the ball (femoral head) was broken off from the top of the thigh bone (femur). There was a distinct possibility that she may not have been able to walk again if she did not urgently receive the right surgery and rehabilitation.
Dr Cyrus immediately called his colleague, Professor John Golding, an Englishman who was head of the Orthopaedic Department of the University of the West Indies at Mona, Jamaica, and we rushed Maxine off to Jamaica where Professor Golding and his team performed two operations to get the ball back into the socket, and then to rejoin it the top of the thigh bone. Maxine spent seven months in a cast from her left foot, around her body to just under her breasts, then had to undergo therapy to learn to walk all over again. Thanks to God, Dr Cyrus, and Professor Golding and his team, she made it through. She is now 56 years old, walks with a slight limp, but has three beautiful daughters.
Several years later, Dr Cyrus made an early diagnosis of meningitis in my fourth child, Michaela. Once again, he spoke to one of his colleagues, this time in Trinidad and Tobago, where she was successfully treated. She is now 48 and also has three children (two boys and a girl). The Lord has been watching over us and we thank him.
It was the swift action by Dr Cyrus which saved my children. Above all, it was his professionalism and humility that was responsible for their successful treatment recovery.
He was a highly qualified medical practitioner and very skilled surgeon faced with two serious medical conditions in young people. Another Doctor, with Dr Cyrus’s qualification and surgical skills may very well have felt that he was sufficiently qualified and experienced to handle the cases. Not Cecil Cyrus. He acknowledged his limitations in the respective fields, and called for help from others whom he thought were better qualified than he was in the particular areas of surgery and medicine to handle the cases.
Those decisions could only have been made by a great physician and surgeon who accepted that his primary responsibility was to look after the best interest of his patients. Dr Cyrus’s decisions brought out the quality of professionalism and greatness in the man.
Sir Cecil and I shared a passion for sports. We had a common vision that sports could be used as the ideal vehicle for the overall and rounded development of the human mind and body, and could play a meaningful role in the national development of countries around the World.
Dr Cyrus took that belief to the very limit by the manner in which he introduced squash to St Vincent, very efficiently managed the development of the sport during the many years he served as President of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Squash Association, and more importantly, by his use of millions of dollars of his personal funds to ensure that the sport in little St Vincent developed and kept pace with the highest international standards.
He built squash courts on his properties on the Road to Leeward and at Brighton, and then almost single-handedly funded the construction of the ultra-modern National Squash Centre at Paul’s Avenue, designed to the highest international standards.
It comprised of two courts that could host International Squash Championships, together with a practice court, as well as adequate dressing rooms and seating.
Dr Cyrus was not only the President of the Squash Association, he was one of the top players, who played at the national and regional levels, and coached many of the players at every level in St Vincent and the Grenadines.