Sat | Jun 6, 2020

UK community lauds Clarke

Published:Saturday | May 23, 2020 | 12:00 AM
Diane Abbott
Jamaica’s high commissioner to the United Kingdom, George Ramocan.
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LONDON:

JAMAICA’S HIGH commissioner to the United Kingdom (UK), George Ramocan, led an outpouring of tributes for the late Oliver Clarke, former chairman of the RJRGLEANER Communications and Jamaica National groups. Both groups of companies serve the diaspora communities.

Ramocan described Clarke as an outstanding entrepreneur who gave visionary leadership locally, regionally, and internationally.

“Undoubtedly, Oliver Clarke was one of Jamaica’s best. He was an entrepreneur par excellence with a long and distinguished career in the private sector while fostering strong relations and partnerships with successive governments,” he said.

“His - approach led to Jamaica National Building Society being one of the Caribbean’s leading companies and, together with The Gleaner Company, household names within the Jamaican diaspora across the world, including right here in the UK. Despite his numerous accolades and accomplishments, Oliver Clarke could be aptly described as one who walked with kings but never lost the common touch. As such, he will be also lovingly remembered for his good-natured, humble, and down-to-earth personality and, of course, his sense of humour and infectious laughter. Importantly, he will be remembered for his philanthropic nature and willingness to give a helping hand or good advice to those in need.

“This is, indeed, a sad loss of a giant and pacesetter in the development of modern Jamaica,” he noted.

UK Labour Member of Parliament Diane Abbott remembered Clarke as “a faithful servant of his country”.

REMARKABLE MAN

“Oliver Clarke was a remarkable man. He was one of that great post-Independence generation of Jamaicans in public life. I first met him over 30 years ago as a new British member of parliament. I was young, radical, a committed socialist, and a big admirer of the former Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley,” said Abbott.

She added: “Oliver Clarke, by contrast, was conservative to the bone and a leading antagonist of the Manley administration. But, despite having very different views politically, Oliver and I got on well almost from the beginning, and we stayed in touch down the years. Over time, I grew to admire and respect him. Oliver was a genuinely patriotic Jamaican. He was such a strong, charismatic character; I can’t quite believe that I will never see him again. Oliver Clarke was many things: a businessman, a media owner, and a political actor.” George Ruddock, editor for the Weekly Gleaner, said: “Oliver Clarke was always clear in his beliefs that there was an important role for the black press in the UK.

“He gave his full support for the Weekly Gleaner newspaper to strive, being the main link for Jamaicans overseas and home for over 60 years. When The Voice was facing financial difficulties back in early 2004, he stepped in to purchase the newspaper, not only for financial investment but because he wanted to ensure the UK black community continued to have a medium to speak up for their views and opinions.

“His relationship with the UK Jamaican community was legendary as he was the brains behind the successful ‘Jamaica Expo’ series, which ran from 1995 to 1998 and brought many leading Jamaican companies to the UK to market their products and services to the diaspora community.”

Dr Beverly Lindsay, chair of the Association of Jamaican Nationals (Birmingham) UK, called him a “true and long-standing friend of the Jamaican diaspora in the United Kingdom”.