They say that it is an ill wind that blows nobody any good, and this seems to have been the case with the St. Augustine’s Chapel at KC’s North Street campus.
As the story goes, February 2, 2013, Saturday morning, there was indeed a cool wind riding on the backs of persons streaming into the chapel to pay their last respect to Fitzroy “Fitzi” Lawrence. Fitzi, who - among his many other stellar achievements – also had the distinction of playing on the first KC cricket team to have won the Sunlight Cup, back in 1941, was taking his final walk back to the pavilion. And this Saturday morning, among those who had come to say goodbye and share in the celebrations paying tribute to Fitzi’s greatest innings was a St. Hugh’s past student, Heather Robinson.
Heather herself was no stranger to KC, as she counts among the most cherished memories of her sojourn at St. Hugh’s those occasions when she appeared in a couple of plays which were joint productions between her alma mater and KC. So while most of the males in her clan would have attended an institution on Old Hope Road, Heather still commiserates with them for missing out on the uniquely more enriching experience that 2A North Street would have offered.
As the liturgy celebrating the life of Fitzroy Lawrence progressed, Heather Robinson thought how fitting it was for this to be taking place in the building which indeed represented the spiritual centre of Fitzi’s life for several years. Entranced by the beauty and tranquility of this bosom of worship, her roving eyes were drawn, unerringly, to several windows with broken panes, their dishonourable shards of glass bellowing a shameful incongruence. And while these ignominious relics of past miscreant behaviour might have enhanced the flow of air throughout the chapel, their disrupting effects on the aesthetics were more compelling. There and then, Heather Robinson avowed to do something about it.
1And so it came to pass that at the end of the ashes-to-ashes dust-to-dust ritual when many did mourn, that same Heather of the tribe of Robinson did affix her halo and appear like an angel unto the weird one, Maurice. 2And she quietly spake to him of her desire to see those scars on the windows to the Fortis soul removed for they were not right in the sight of the Lord. 3Yea, she even told him that she would give her own shekels to replace broken glass and return the temple to its rightful state as a proud monument to the High Priest Percival, the Gibsonite. 4And as Maurice looked on as if seeing visions, Heather shook him awake and said unto him “Get me estimates of the costs, so I may know how many pieces of paper bearing portraits of Manley and Nanny I will have to find to satisfy the merchants and workmen.” 5Maurice, his heart made glad by words spoken by this angel, not only rejoiced in the offer, but also sent word to all his brothers who had caused many tongues to wag when they had a reunion in AD 2004 and called themselves the Fortis 69ers. 6And Maurice did convince Heather that the Fortis 69ers would bring resources and work together to manage and execute the project. 7 Verily I say unto you, so moved was Maurice that he even agreed to give up strong drink for forty days and no nights!
On April 10, Heather Robinson, true to her promise, presented KC Board chairman Michael Vaccianna with a cheque to cover the costs of removing and replacing all the broken panes in the windows of the St. Augustine’s Chapel. In the discussions with Mr. Vaccianna and Principal Dave Myrie, Ms. Robinson also used the occasion to relate some lessons learnt from her former career as a Member of Parliament, emphasizing the importance of fixing the little things before they grow into monumental headaches.
Additionally, there was general consensus that the window frames – currently painted green – should be repainted in a shade of purple. The costs to be incurred in effecting this latter change are being underwritten by the Fortis 69ers Group. With the preliminaries now sorted out, the project to repair and repaint the chapel windows is now about to get underway, under the direction of civil engineer and Fortis 69er, Clinton Watson.
Soon, then, the chapel windows will have to be opened to let in wind – ill or good – via that route. Also, the light reflecting off the windows will soon have a hue more in keeping with the colour of the blood that runs in the Fortis veins.
Patrick Dallas is the Convener of the Fortis 69ers Group