Clare Forrester: no ordinary woman, no ordinary journalist
THE EDITOR, Sir: Clare Forrester is off to argue with God about cricket.
I got the news early a few mornings ago that Clare died in the United States.
Our paths crossed for the first time when I arrived at the 'barracks' at Mona to be the very first students in the diploma programme in media, the first offering of the brand-new Caribbean Institute of Mass Communications. This was the University of the West Indies' foray into media training, and 'Mass Com' would become the home of some 30 Caribbean students who were all experienced media practitioners.
We were a mature group who soon discovered that the campus was a very different place from our newspaper, radio and television workplaces.
Many were experiencing Jamaica for the first time, and those with preconceived ideas quickly learned that this was a most welcoming country.
It was Clare and her Jamaican posse who showed us that Jamaica was a country to be enjoyed. She saw to it that we were introduced to the best food and drink and many of her friends.
At the Jamaica Press Club, we met fellow journalists, columnists and commentators that we, from the Eastern Caribbean, had only read and heard about over the years.
We danced and learnt that Bob Marley had songs in the ska beat and soon joined in the singalong to these classics.
My dance moves even impressed the film star actor of The Harder They Come so much that he could not believe that I was from the Eastern Caribbean.
For me, Clare represented my real introduction to Jamaican women. I said that she introduced me to the real Jamaican woman. Let me explain.
I had known that Jamaican women were among the most beautiful in the world. But I would learn that they are among the most independent and gifted women, too. It is a strength often misunderstood.
What I learnt is that they are not afraid to go into areas of endeavour that even some men fear. Clare was one such example. We have had only a few top-flight sports journalists across the region. Her knowledge of sports was legendary and her style was emphatic.
Clare Forrester was among that group of very strong women who held their own and gained the utmost respect of the men and women with whom they worked. That remains for me the strongest identifier of Clare Forrester.
She could argue you down to the ground and then back up again and remain friends after the most heated of sessions.
You did not talk cricket with Clare unless you were the editor of Wisden Cricket Almanac. You did not drink rum with Clare unless you were a distiller at Appleton Estate. You did not laugh with Clare unless you were prepared to bend down low and let it all hang out.
She was full of ideas and the drive and determination to implement them. She could mobilise across many miles of water to get things done.
I am sure many will recall the emails and phone calls they received from Clare requesting support for some venture.
Active in youth development
Most of the time those ventures were in support of the development of young people. That was particularly evident in the work she drove when she worked for Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization.
She single-handedly pressed for recognition of the media's work in the field of health and reinforced the value of the media in the fight against diseases that threatened our development.
The spirit of Clare Forrester lives on in the joy she brought to so many of us across the Caribbean.
Journalists across this region seem to have the ability not to come together for their own good. While others despaired, Clare continued to remain faithful to the ideals of the Association of Caribbean Media Workers for the common good. She brought that Jamaican drive to the task and the association's survival is testament to that.
Her contribution stands out like a beacon for others to emulate.
I may have lost a friend in the physical sense, but the memories of our time together in this plane remain with me forever.
For the Association of Caribbean
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