Sat | May 25, 2019

May Day honours a selfless servant

Published:Wednesday | July 18, 2018 | 12:00 AMTamara Bailey/Gleaner Writer
From left: Member of Parliament Peter Bunting, a parent at the institution, Principal Winsome Barnaby, Councillor Jones Oliphant and Astley Smith with the children of the institution shortly after the unveiling of the sign.
The former May Day Basic School, now Astley Smith Early Childhood Institution.

May Day, Manchester:

If it were left to the residents of the May Day community, their blessing in the form of Astley Smith would be revered with the entire area being named in his honour.

Smith's life epitomises selfless service for nation building, and by the look of things, he will not be stopping any time soon.

Just recently, Smith had the May Day Basic School named in his honour and everyone present at the ceremony sang the praises of this unsung hero.

"His love for young people, education and community development cannot be overemphasised. He has made his contribution solely out of love for others," said Stanford Davis, principal of May Day High School.

He added that with the challenges surrounding the 21st century education system, investing in early childhood education is necessary for the sector's high performance.

"The change of the school's name leaves a legacy of this humble dedicated servant. We give God thanks for this opportunity to honour a stalwart. I call upon all community members to give your full support to this institution and protect it from thieves and vandals," Davis said.

For 40 years, Smith has dedicated his life to the development of the basic school, among other institutions in the parish. He is said to have sponsored a student each year to attend the University of the West Indies; University of Technology for the past 10 years, and more recently, Northern Caribbean University. He is also the first vice-president of the citizens' association and neighbourhood watch for the past 16 years.


Life of service


Additionally, Smith has served on the Social Development Commission committee. He served as board chairman of May Day High for 26 years, a member of the board of the Holmwood Technical for 25 years, DeCarteret College board chairman for 15 years, and Old England Primary board chairman for 15 years.

According to a representative from the Old England Health Centre, Nurse Grace Robinson, when the facility was faced with difficulties, Smith played a very crucial role in the fundraising activities.

Born and bred in the Georges Valley community in the parish, Smith had his early education in the community and surrounding areas. He moved on in his adult years to gaining certification as a heavy-duty auto mechanic machinist and welder, and later worked in several supervisory roles in local bauxite companies before retiring.

"In 2010, he was given the Governor General's Achievement Award. His dream now is to witness the certified basic school become an infant school, where it will be easier to operate in these harsh economic times," said justice of the peace and former principal of May Day High, Stanley Skeene

In his response, Smith acknowledged that it is his God-given duty here on Earth to help all those he is able to.

"My motivation for helping over the years has come from my firm belief that it is a certain fact that I expect to pass this way but once, and any good works, therefore, I can render to the soul of man or animal, let me do it now, let me not neglect or delay, for I will never pass this way again.

"May Day Basic has come a long way and we have travelled through rough, stormy times, but it is where it is at because of hard work, discipline, determination and grit. The work continues and we will always continue to maximise our potential," Smith said.