July 2023 Volume 19

JAMES “Jimmy” Norton Richards

Ronnie Chin
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Jimmy- A Wonderful, Gentle and Kind Soul…

Affectionately, I call him “The Harlem-born baby” – for the obvious reason. From Harlem, Jimmy was taken to Bermuda where his grandfather was a prominent hotelier.

Jimmy's grandfather, James “Dick” Richards, was born in Beersheba, Westmoreland, Jamaica. In 1888, Mr. Richards joined the West India Regiment and served in the Ashanti War in West Africa. In 1894, he, along with his regiment, returned to Jamaica and in 1897 he was selected to visit England to participate in Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee celebration. In 1898 he was back in Africa, this time in South Africa during the Boer War.

Mr. Richards arrived in Bermuda from Africa in 1903 and was honorably discharged from the West India Regiment. In 1907 he married Jane Smith a native of Montserrat.

Jimmy's love for Cricket obviously came from his grandfather who was an avid cricketer and fan. In 1939, he underwrote the first West Indies Cricket team to visit Bermuda.

In 1949, Jimmy was brought to Jamaica by his grandfather, and he recalled that the family stayed at the Myrtle Bank Hotel. He also remembered that his mom stayed with him for a year before she returned to Bermuda. He spent 2 years at KC Prep. School before transitioning to “Big School”

Jimmy has always expressed the joy and pride of having started KC from the Prep School level. He loved KC and whenever he spoke about KC there was always a child-like enthusiasm in his voice.

Jimmy excelled both at academics and athletics when he moved on to “Big School”. He was an outstanding athlete. He captained the football team in 1956, however, KC lost the Manning Cup by one point to St. Georges. That year – 1956 – The Gleaner’s sports writer, Baz Freckleton in selecting his All-Manning Team, stated that the inside-left position was reserved for KC’s James Richards. He also played Tennis and Cricket and was a member of both winning teams in 1955. In 1956, he and Billy Hall were jointly selected as KC best athletes.

The Manning Cup Team, he nurtured and captained in 1956 won the cup in 1957. However, while Jimmy was still at school in 1957, age restrictions prohibited him from representing KC in any sporting events. The torture of spectating instead of playing haunted him even on recall.

Jimmy left Jamaica in 1958 and went to England. He did Law while in England, however, he never practiced as a Lawyer. He returned to Jamaica in 1970 and made Jamaica his home. He recalled the day he landed in Jamaica, he left the airport and went straight to KC.

Soon after his return to Jamaica, and at the request of Wally Johnson - then Sportsmaster - he started coaching cricket at KC. He coached from 1971 to 1982 and during that period won the Sunlight Cup on numerous occasions. He coached the only team to ever win the cricket triple i.e., Sunlight, Tapping and Headley Cups in 1981.

Jimmy had many memorable moments with his cricketers – stories that remained fondly etched in his memory. One such memory that he always shared: - KC went to play STETHS in the Headley Cup. He was having car issues so was unable to go the first day of the two-day competition. He was home the following morning preparing to make the journey to St. Elizabeth when a taxi pulled-up at his gate. Out jumped a number of the boys from the team. He enquired why they left St. Elizabeth. In unison they responded: “It dun coach, we never want you to waste time and come down so we just dun it in one day. We win”

Kingston College was everything to Jimmy and he dedicated a significant part of his existence to the school and its successes. He never pretended to be Mr. KC, but, to so many, he surely was.

He contributed his time, financial support and also mentored many KC Boys along with others. He knew what it was to love, to share and he gave more than he received. He gave his heart to KC and was repaid with love, lots of love, from the Fortis Nation.

Jimmy loved KC. Being able to interact with the Fortis Nation gave him much joy. In his latter days when the old boys visited “he was in his ackee”.

He was a KC sports historian and an avid contributor to our Fortis Nations Archives Page on Facebook. Over the past 4 years, he sent me mails every week with hand-written KC sports statistics. These are treasures and I have securely stacked them away.

Jimmy was so looking forward to the KC Centenary Celebrations but I can assure you that when that time comes, he will be there - right in the front row. And, Jimmy, rest assured… I will surely honour that charge you gave me.

In closing, allow me to share a poem written by Henry Scott Holland - Regius Professor of Divinity at the University of Oxford in the late 19 th century. Be still as Jimmy speaks to you through this poem.

“Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air so solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was. There is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is this death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of your mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner. All is well. Nothing is hurt nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before. How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again.”

See you in the waiting room dear FortisBrother and Friend.

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