(CMC) – Prime Minister Mia Mottley has praised the contribution of former prime minister Sir Lloyd Erskine Sandiford, who died today at the age of 86, describing him as a true statesman who served Barbados with honour and the wider Caribbean with distinction.
In a statement on its official Facebook page, the main opposition Democratic Labour Party (DLP), which Sandiford headed, noted his passing, adding that the DLP “family mourns the passing of Sir Lloyd, 1937–2023, former Prime Minister of Barbados and Leader of the Democratic Labour Party”.
The party said that it was Sir Lloyd who seriously began the task of restructuring and repositioning the economy after the crisis of the early 1990s.
“Many things will be written about Sir Lloyd’s passing, his tenure as Barbados’ fourth prime minister, his role in shaping the Democratic Labour Party, in modernising education, reforming Barbados’ economy and in his later years, opening doors to China as the country’s first Ambassador to China,” said the DLP.
“However, what must be powerfully stated and remembered about our statesman, Sir Lloyd was a Barbadian patriot at his core. He left public life with an unblemished character and reputation, always putting country first. If you look up a definition of patriot and nation builder, you will find his name and his picture.”
Before ascending to the highest political office after the death of Prime Minister Errol Barrow on June 1, 1987, Sir Lloyd had long been credited as the most significant post-independence education minister, particularly in developing the Barbados Community College and opening new primary and secondary schools.
His brainchild, the development of Sherbourne as a national examination centre, eventually became the island’s premier convention centre which bears his name, the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Conference Centre.
In her tribute, Mottley, who is on an official visit to China, said “again, it is with a sense of deep sadness that I say goodbye to yet another Barbadian nation builder, a true statesman, and without doubt a through and through gentleman of post-Independence Barbadian politics.”
Mottley said the former prime minister, who served as Barbados’ fourth head of government from 1987 to 1994 and who was known affectionately as ‘Sandi’, has had the distinction of maintaining a political career of more than three decades without a single instance in which bad behaviour or the use of the robust language and colourful metaphors so common to Caribbean politics have been attached to his name.
”In fact, those who knew him well might argue that the only feature of his personality that could have possibly rivalled his ever-gentle spirit was his capacity to take a position on any matter and remain resolute and unmoved, even in the face of the most unrelenting pressure. Sir Lloyd was what Bajans would respectfully describe as ‘his own man’ at all times,” said Mottley.
She said no review of Sir Lloyd’s sterling contribution to Barbados would be complete without a tribute to his leadership of the Ministry of Education, adding that his tenure included the establishment of the Barbados Community College, an institution at which he not only subsequently taught, but which has changed the future of thousands of young Barbadians.
Mottley said that it is “ironic that as I issue this statement, I am in China” where Sandiford served as the country’s first resident ambassador in Beijing from 2010 to 2013.
“Sir Lloyd demonstrated his magnanimity of character and dedication to public service by agreeing, having completed service as prime minister, to once again serve this country as Barbados’ first resident Ambassador to China,” said the prime minister of Barbados.
“Sir Lloyd was also a genuine and dedicated regionalist and as prime minister, he took the decision to take Barbados deeper into the regional integration process by signing on to the Grand Anse Declaration, which eventually led to the establishment of the Single Market and Single Economy.”
In a statement today, CARICOM said, “Sir Lloyd’s life was defined by selfless service to his country, as statesman for over three decades, and diplomat. He was an esteemed educator, and is credited with having pioneered significant national post-independence educational initiatives.
“His contributions as a member of CARICOM’s Conference of Heads of Government were characterised by passion and professionalism, and helped to advance the community’s high aspirations for deeper integration set out in the Grande Anse Declaration and Work Programme for the Integration Movement.
We give thanks for the life of this distinguished son of our community and extend heartfelt condolences to his widow Lady Angelita Sandiford and other family members, the Government and people of Barbados, and all who mourn his loss.”