March 2013 Volume 10

Service of Thanksgiving for Life of The Honourable Neville Maurice “Teddy” McCook, OJ, CD, JP

Noel Spencer
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The service was officially slated to begin promptly at 2:00 pm; however I arrived at 12:19 pm to ensure that I did not have to park too far from the Chapel. As I drove down South Camp Road towards North Street, I did not spot too many cars. But as I approached 2a North Street I got the sense that something important was happening.

The security forces were already stationed at the entrance; you needed a pass to get into 2a, I had none, but I stated that I had to make an important delivery for Mr. McCook. I was ushered unto the campus pass three security check points. I delivered the Kingston College Old boys tributes safely at the entrance to St. Augustine’s Chapel. One mission accomplished.

As I began the retreat from Clovelly, Audley Hewett stopped me, and redirected me to the Reserved Parking on the Tennis Court; I counted my blessings that at 1:00 pm, I did not have to walk too far after parking.

As I parked on the famous Douglas Forrest tennis court, another stroke of luck or should I say Teddy blessing descended on me. It was after lunchtime, and I had not yet eaten lunch.

I glimpsed the choir in the 3rd form block sitting quietly; they were having lunch. Mr. and Mrs. Hall saw me and quickly invited me to join the group; and so I was saved from hunger. The blessings continued, as the Choir Master invited me to sit with the Choir by the altar as I would get a better view of the proceedings.

Lots of handshaking, hugs, and slapping of high fives from old and young old boys before the service started.

Ray Harvey, Lindy Headley, Charlie Grant , Rupert Hemmings, Robert Wan, Jeff Barnes, Ossie Harding and wife, Ulett, Rupert Hoilette, Big Stephenson, Dennis Duncan, Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, the  Prime Minister, Usain Bolt, Stratton Palmer, Dr. Warren Blake, Maurice Weir, Brian Smith, Earle Spencer, Delano Franklyn, and many more.

Then 1:40 pm arrived – Rt. Rev. Bishop Don Taylor entered the Chapel, a few seconds later the Rt. Rev. Robert Thompson, Bishop of Kingston arrived, plus Rev. Canon Abner Powell, KC’s Chaplain. They each walked into the nave to robe for this auspicious event, did I say auspicious.

As the gentlemen robed, the foreign delegates began to arrive – The USA track and field contingent led by Stephanie Highwater, plus Mrs. Bob Beamon and a large entourage from the USA, then Sir Sebastian Coe and his wife arrived, plus the contingent from the IAAF from Monaco.  Presidents and delegates from the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Almost every nation in the Caribbean was represented. Dr. Blake just listed each nation by name the following Monday afternoon. Wow. I spent Monday afternoon with Dr. Blake.

Back to the church service at the LAND of KINGS: Mrs. Michelle Bromley began with an organ selection, followed by Mr. Leo Brown as soloist; then Professor Dr. Winston Davidson sang a warming rendition of a hymn that got the congregation stirring.

It is now 1:54 pm, the clergy begin their walk from the nave to the front of the Chapel; the powerful Kingston College Chapel Choir stands up as a military unit: The congregants change their positions on the wooden benches: the Choirs starts singing, we expect Panis Angelicus as the program states, but Conductor Audley Davidson introduces a classical Latin piece for the diversified congregation.

As I looked out at the pews, beaming smiles were evidenced on each person sitting there. Sir Sebastian Coe and his wife looked in amazement as if they were witnessing the Westminster Abbey Boys’ Choir. The IAAF delegate from Monaco just kept smiling. The KC old boys in the pews were brimming with pride ( “a my school dis, boy u ever hear anything so”). The Calabar old boys sitting close by me were just amazed – Canon Gervaise Clarke’s son said he knew they were good, but never experienced such a thrill.

To commence the service, the Choir belted out Panis Angelicus: you would think you now were at the Vatican or Sistine Chapel because the music and the vocal sounds from the Tenors, basses, altos, and trebles made St. Augustine’s rock.

Audley Hewett received the ashes of his personal friend, Teddy McCook as he stood strong and proud that the world that knew Teddy is now visiting the institution that molded such a great human being.

Clovelly Park looked royal even with the dirt and somewhat semi-asphalt driveway. High heels and all navigated the patches. The Prime Minister’s entourage may now give us a grant to upgrade the school road, because the school may just become a tourist attraction after what Teddy demonstrated on Sunday, February 24th, 2013. I mean the world saw greatness first hand on the 24th.

I will try to contain myself, but how can I, since I was a witness to a spectacular treat by our alma mater: The Choir, The Cadets, our head boy and deputy head boy; the reading of Philippians 4: 6-13 by Wayne McCook (KC old boy and Teddy’s nephew), Ecclesiastes 3: 1-15 by his niece Ms. Suzanne Davis.

The congregation sang the popular Psalm 23; it seemed they wanted to repeat each verse. After we sang Who Would True Valor Serve, the Don took the pulpit and said I will be brief. He delivered the homily of his classmate, and close friend as best as a close friend and school mate could only do. The Rev. Don Taylor made it known on this day why Teddy accomplished so much. It was because of the Christian upbringing from his parents and his regular consistent attendance at the KC chapel every day. Our school and the chapel through Bishop Gibson encouraged, mentored, enlightened Teddy to deliver his best at whatever he was to pursue upon graduation, and he did.

Bishop Taylor taught everyone on this afternoon that a KC student was taught to share and support his brother in the Christian tradition. Our Lord Jesus in the Gospels states we must share our fortunes and take care of the needy, that is what the KC student is taught when he enters the Gates of Kingston College for his five to eight years. From the first day, the Christian teaching is encouraged and nurtured into each student. Teddy embraced that teaching.

Neville always wanted the Choir to perform Zadok the Priest for him, but Teds would never be able to attend the recitals when it was performed by the Choir. However, on the 24th February, 2013 as he rested at the base of the ALTAR, the choir began the tribute. Pause for a moment and just imagine: Reflect on the layout of the Chapel; imagine all the dignitaries each transfixed as our youngsters started to stir the quiet spirits of Clovelly that grace our walls. There was some movement in the walls

Teddy visited Gibson Relays one last time; when he shut down the generators at the Stadium on Saturday night for 15 minutes. There was an official minute of silence at the official start of the meet. But Teddy in his normal autocratic way said that was not enough, so he shut the lights off at 7:10 pm as dusk settled over the stadium.

After Zadok was performed; the IAAF Exec VP bestowed, posthumously, the highest order the IAAF has, the Gold Order of Merit.

The Thanksgiving service came to a conclusion with the Recessional Hymn: Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices. The Choir formed the Honor Guard outside the Chapel.

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