by Dr Malcolm Grant
For the greater part of the last four decades, I’ve had the opportunity and privilege to rub shoulders with some of the Caribbean’s finest and most esteemed medical practitioners. I can unhesitantly and categorically state that Sir Cecil was an icon in the field of medicine here in our region. Sir Cecil was arguably one of the Caribbean’s greatest exponents of the modern art of medicine. He was revered by many of his regional and extra-regional colleagues.
Sir Cecil personified the characteristics of a great physician, humanitarian, nationalist, and educator:
1. His compassion for and dedication to his patients was second to none.
2. He fought tirelessly and unselfishly to improve access to health care for Vincentians from all walks of life.
3. His professionalism was always exemplary and beyond reproach.
4. His knowledge with regard to the practice of medicine was phenomenally all-encompassing.
5. He was one of the first doctors in the Caribbean to promote continuing medical education. He did so as a host of conferences, and as the presenter of some landmark papers. I had the fortune of attending a few of his excellent, enthralling, and well-attended presentations.
6. The confidence he exuded made his patients feel at ease.
7. He wore on his sleeves his passion for his profession.
8. His unrivalled, and unquestioned commitment to St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) and Vincentians was always unwavering. Many of us here in SVG never realized much less appreciated what a gem we had at our beck and call, in Sir Cecil. Here was a brilliant and highly qualified doctor who could have commanded a job in any corner of the world, at any top-notch university of medicine, yet he chose to return to the land of his birth to faithfully and diligently serve his people. Sir Cecil unequivocally and longitudinally placed his country, and his fellow Vincentians before himself.
9. He mentored many Vincentians aspiring to serve in the field of medicine. I’ll be the first to admit that his mentorship was extremely influential and tremendously invaluable.
10. His competence as a physician and surgeon was stratospheric.
11. On his return to St Vincent he courageously took on the establishment. Inclusive of the medical establishment, the political establishment, and the sordid vestiges of colonialism. This won him few friends within the collective establishment, however, it gained him tremendous respect and the admiration of the more progressive, objective, and marginalized members of our society.
What a man! What a doctor! What a patriot! What a legacy!
From the time I first met him, sometime between the late 60s and early 70s, “Uncle Cecil” was always Sir Arthur Cecil Cyrus in my books. It was in his twilight years that the powers that be found it fitting to appropriately honour this great son of the soil with a knighthood, a mere few days before his 90th birthday. An honour that he deserved and could have been easily justified some 30-40 years earlier. As they say, “better late than never”; or should it be, “a ‘man’ is not without honour save in his own country.”
There could be no more fitting posthumous tribute to this heroic Vincentian than to name the soon-to-be constructed Arnos Vale Acute Referral Hospital, the Sir Arthur Cecil Cyrus Hospital.
I shall repeat for emphasis and not for redundancy, there could be no more fitting posthumous tribute to this heroic Vincentian than to name the soon-to-be-constructed Arnos Vale Acute Referral Hospital, the Sir Arthur Cecil Cyrus Hospital!
Posthumously, Sir Cecil is most deserving of this commemoration and more.