CaribWorldNews, BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Sat. Oct. 23, 2010: Condolences from regional leaders have begun pouring in just hours after news broke of the passing of Barbados` Prime Minister David Thompson. Thompson died this morning at 2:10. a.m. after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 48.
According to reports, the PM died at his home in Mapps, St Philip with his family by his side.
Jamaica Prime Minister and Chairman of Caricom, Bruce Golding, earlier today expressed deep sadness at the news, noting that the Caribbean has lost one of its youngest and most vibrant leaders who remained strong, determined and focused to the very end.
Golding noted that in the short space of less than three years, Prime Minister Thompson had demonstrated strong leadership within the counsels of CARICOM and was firmly committed to the region`s goals.
`He fought a brave fight to the very end demonstrating the unconditional love for his country and a commitment to the people of Barbados. His will be a great loss to the region,` PM Golding said.
St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister called the passing `a day of incredible sadness for Barbados and the member-states of the Caribbean Community.`
Dr. Douglas said the late Barbadian leader `was known and admired by the people of St. Kitts and Nevis, the St. Kitts-Nevis Labor Party, and was a valued colleague and friend to me and my Government.`
`The loss is great. Our sadness, indescribable,` said Dr. Douglas.
In Guyana, Leader of the main opposition People`s National Congress Reform, issued a statement expressing condolence, to Thompson`s wife and daughters, his mother, Margaret Knight, the other members of his family, relatives, friends, members of his Cabinet, the Barbados Labour Party (BLP), and all of the people of Barbados.
The Caribbean Tourism Organization also joined in expressing sadness, noting that Prime Minister Thompson was steadfast in his commitment to the CTO.
`His support was evident in Barbados` kind hosting of major CTO events during his tenure – the 11th Annual Caribbean Conference on Sustainable Tourism and the first ever Leadership Strategy Conference – and his dedication to the cause of the Caribbean`s economic prosperity through tourism,` the CTO said in a statement this morning.
CARICOM Secretary General, Edwin Carrington, lauded Thompson for his deliberate, evidence-based approach to issues and the search for their resolution, while not always popular, sought to provide a well-grounded basis for decision making.
`His calm, deliberate manner also served to facilitate the discussions of the most delicate and difficult matters at the highest level. Those said qualities endeared him to most of us,` the Secretary-General said.
Thompson was born on Christmas Day 1961, the same year that former PM Errol Walton Barrow was born. The third child of Barbadians, Margaret and Charles Thompson, his early childhood spanned London in Britain, where he was born, and Barbados where he was nurtured and schooled. He received his primary teaching at the St. Gabriel`s Junior School before proceeding to Combermere School for his secondary education.
He came to prominence and public attention as the leading panelist for his alma mater, in the then popular secondary schools` television debates – Understanding. That forum and his active membership of the youth arm of the Democratic Labor Party (DLP) of Barrow, virtually catapulted him into the national limelight and he was seen as a future leader bequeathed to Barbados by Barrow.
Thompson completed his secondary schooling at Combermere, securing a Barbados Exhibition in 1979. He returned and taught at his alma mater for a year before entering the Law Faculty of the University of the West Indies where he read for a degree, graduating with honors in 1984.
He then pursued the Legal Education Certificate at the Hugh Wooding Law School of the University of the West Indies in Trinidad. That prepared him for his chosen and natural profession. He further honed his legal and oratorical skills at the feet of Errol Barrow Q. C. whose law firm, Trident Chambers, he joined in 1986. There, he rubbed shoulders with some of the other legal luminaries of the day: Asquith Phillips Q.C., George Moe Q.C., Carol Fields Q.C. and Philip Greaves Q.C.
Between 1986 and 1988, he served as a part-time tutor in law at the University of the West Indies. Following Mr. Barrow`s untimely death in 1987, he successfully contested the by-election in the constituency of St. John which he has represented ever since.
Thompson`s first cabinet appointment was in 1991 when he was made Minister of Community Development and Culture. His passion for and commitment to meaningful youth development, as well as his interest in culture, saw him in the vanguard in the establishment of the Barbados Youth Service and the Youth in Business Program, as well as in the restructuring of the National Youth Orchestra.
From 1992 to 1993, he was switched to the Ministry of Finance as Minister of State, and between 1993 and 1994 he assumed full responsibility for that Ministry. During that time, he was responsible for restructuring the sugar industry and the offshore sector, monitoring the government`s successful stabilization program with the International Monetary Fund and the structural adjustment program that was implemented in 1993.
Always handsomely winning his own riding, and by overwhelming margins in all six attempts, he was, however, the leader of the Democratic Labor Party when it lost the general elections of 1994 and 1999.
Never one to be daunted by transient setbacks, he relinquished both positions of Leader of the Opposition (which he held from 1994) and the leadership of the DLP in 2003; but came back in 2006 as Opposition Leader and DLP President.
During the interregnum, he turned to his law practice, specializing in corporate, insurance, international business and property law. Prior to this, he had also established a law partnership that lasted from 1994 to 2000.
In May 2009, he was admitted to the Inner Bar and appointed as a Queen`s Counsel. In short time, following his re-appointment as Leader of the Opposition in 2006, he set about putting his stamp on the DLP. The party regrouped, as he reinvigorated its rank and file and went on a relentless two-year campaign to restore the DLP as the political party of choice for the majority of Barbadians. His efforts turned around the fortunes of the DLP and saw it regaining the reins of power in January 2008 when it won 20 of the 30 parliamentary seats.
Little wonder that at age 46, Prime Minister David Thompson, Barrow`s protégé, was the sixth holder of the office since Independence. He also has ministerial responsibility for the portfolios of Finance, Economic Affairs and Development, Labour, the Civil Service and Energy. On September 30th, Thompson gave his last address to the nation, an audio address, where he also announced a cabinet reshuffle.
PM Thompson leaves to mourn his wife Marie-Josephine Mara and three daughters, Misha, Oya and Osa.
This morning, Mrs. Thompson issued a statement that said: `Barbados has lost its loyal son and faithful servant before he had the time to realize his lifetime dreams. We enjoyed and endured his public service experiences. He was always indebted to the people and the party for affording him the opportunity to see the mountain top. Our long vigil this year was lightened by the prayers and support of Barbadians. We are deeply grateful for all your considerations as we seek to reflect as a family in mourning but we invite your continued prayers.`
Freundel Stuart, Thompson`s deputy who served as acting prime minister for several periods over the last six months, has been chosen to succeed him. Stuart was sworn at Government House earlier today after the passing of former leader David Thompson. Adriel Brathwaite, the new Attorney General, was also sworn in today.
In a brief statement to the press just minutes ago, Stuart said the full cabinet will be sworn in at 3 this afternoon.