September 2021 Volume

BREDRIN’ NOTES - DR. CHARLTON COLLIE KC 1971-78

Stephen Vasciannie
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Dr Charlton Collie is one of Jamaica’s leading pulmonologists. He is a Board-certified specialist in the United States medical community and has offered his highly specialised skills in Kingston, Jamaica, for more than twenty-five consecutive years. Prior to his return to Jamaica in the 1990s, Dr Collie provided medical services in Nassau, the Bahamas, in Maryland, USA, and elsewhere. In addition to his private practice and public service at the University Hospital of the West Indies, he also serves as a highly respected Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Medical Sciences at the University of the West Indies.

Pinnacle

Charlton Collie’s meteoric rise to the pinnacle of his profession -- and his sustained occupation at that pinnacle – have come as no surprise to classmates who shared his Fortis academic journey in yonder years. Charlton joined the Kingston College First Form contingent of over 200 boys in September 1971, and immediately began to shine.

By second form days, he had made his mark as a leading student in all his subjects though, under the guiding light of the legendary teachers such as Miss Joyce Baxter (New Mathematics) and Miss Sonia Serrant (General Science), his strength in the sciences was most pronounced.

The general trend continued when the “young youths” of Mr. Bruce’s Melbourne Park were elevated to North Street. In 3A, there were a few memorable incidents pertaining to Charlton’s intellectual prowess. One concerned Mr S. Been, a sharp and sharp-witted Maths teacher who had joined the KC staff via the Turks and Caicos Islands and Wolmer’s Boys. For our 3 rd Form Terminal Test, Mr Been dropped a bomb, requiring us, without warning, to do the GCE “O” Level paper taken by 5th Formers that year. Charlton took first place in that test with 60 marks, a credit, and this was without special preparation. In the same year, Charlton scored 99% in History, with a performance that appeared to have stunned the teacher, Mr Ruel Forsythe, as much as Charlton’s classmates.

This, then, was a star of notable brilliance. In 4th Form he took a distinction in “O” Level Mathematics with the highest grade possible, and in 5th Form captured 9 subjects with 4 distinctions. In 6th Form, specializing in Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Zoology, Charlton topped his class, and earned a Jamaica Government Exhibition to pursue his studies at UWI.

Quiz Man

Along the way, he also took the opportunity to shine in the JBC Schools’ Challenge Quiz, as a member of the KC team which captured the trophy in 1977. He was also on the team which won the inaugural “Test Your Wits” competition on JBC Radio in 1978.

In The Spirit of Clovelly Park, Mrs Frances Coke, the highly successful coach of early KC quiz teams, recalls Charlton’s inclination to solve difficult Maths problems by looking up at the ceiling. This is very true – but it was not confined to Maths. In a Test You Wits match, he dazzled Dennis Hall and others in the studio with his spelling of “arteriosclerosis” in short order, all the time drawing inspiration from the studio ceiling.

You should not believe, though, that Charlton confined himself only to bookish and laboratory pursuits at the College. Truth be told, he was a better opening batsman than we were prepared to admit – and could drive almost everything outside the off stump through the covers, a point which classmate and budding pace bowler Delano Franklyn must have noticed.

In football, he was a goal-mouth specialist, in the manner of the 1970s West German striker Gerd Mueller. You would not see Charlton racing down the right wing like Noel Rhudd or mastering the mid-field in the manner of “Ratty” Edwards; but you could watch him pounce in the context of any melee in front of the goal. We could equate this determination to score goals with Charlton’s strong pursuit of success in life.

And still with respect to sports, perhaps unbeknownst to some of his KC Bredrin, Charlton represented Taylor Hall, UWI, in Table Tennis. He played a steady game which combined a heavy backhand chop with a free-flowing forehand loop drive. He has also been a sound analyst of activities taking place at Caymanas Park, and in the earlier days for sure would always light up when he heard terms such as “quinela” and “double event”.

Post-Clovelly

In the post-Clovelly days, Charlton took up residence on Block D (“Attica”) of the aforementioned Taylor Hall. From his base in D28, he continued to excel academically and to play an active role in community life. Among other things, he served as President of the Medical Students Association, and had a cameo role in “Smoker”, the annual concert for Medical Students. His sojourn outside Jamaica was to follow life on Block D.

Charlton grew up with special love and guidance of his mother, Mrs Viola Collie, who took a direct interest in his academic progress, from her bases in Kingston and Seaforth, St. Thomas. He, in turn, has been active in bringing out the best from his children. He has a happy disposition, and if he gives you a joke, watch out, for he is likely to bounce you over as he rolls with laughter.

Charlton has saved many lives in his practice of medicine and has been a true bredrin to his friends at Kingston College.

Stephen Vasciannie

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