Chester Francis-Jackson, Contributor
While most experiences in life redound to the unique on the personal level, there are some that are truly historic in context and content, and, while uniquely personal, have a broader and even national significance due to the impact those personal experiences have on the process of nation building.
Indeed, personal achievements take on more awe-inspiring poignancy when taken in the context of individuals whose motivation was that of doing the right thing for their family and community, and in so doing, their actions imprint themselves in the national dialogue. This, it can be argued, has been the lot of Richard and Diana Stewart who, on Saturday, June 9, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in what was a truly fabulous reception and party at their Gordon Town, St Andrew, riverfront home that will be long remembered for its social eloquence!
Dears, imagine celebrating one's golden wedding anniversary in the very same year your country celebrates its golden jubilee of Independence?
Well, my dears, so it is with Richard and Diana Stewart, who 50 years ago, on the very eve of Jamaica's Independence, decided on cementing their love for each other by walking down the aisle as a symbol of their commitment and love to each other.
Climbing ladder of success
Well, many, many moons later, Richard and Diana Stewart successfully parented into adulthood their offspring, Duncan and Jacqueline, and are now proud grandparents to five children. Along the way, the very charming couple built a thriving business from the very bottom up. It is now a household name in the pantheon of Jamaican businesses, as the couple pioneered their Stewart's Auto Supplies, that was the official parts dealer for Rootes Motors to service the fleet of largely British vehicles that was the predominant class of vehicles on the island at the time, into a conglomerate that now includes Automotive Art, industrial equipment such as Bobcats, JCBs forklifts, AC Delco batteries, Suzuki, Mitsubishi, BMW, and the acquisition of Motor Sales, and with it, the Mercedes line, including the Mini.
Indeed, Richard and Diana Stewart are not just known and celebrated as a dedicated and hard-working couple, committed to their family and friends, but they are also celebrated for their hands-on philanthropy, as unlike many in their social circles, they do not believe in chequebook philanthropy, where they donate from afar as a kind of a salve. They actually get up-close and personal when it comes to staging interventions as they do with the Richard and Diana Stewart Foundation, which is dedicated to providing housing and educational opportunities for the indigent.
At the civic level, as head of the American Chamber of Commerce of Jamaica, Diana Stewart was the driving force behind the building of a new and interactive police station and clinic in the community of Grants Pen, resulting in what was a volatile community now being a relatively peaceful model community of tolerance.
Indeed, theirs is a legacy of hard work and dedication that speaks to a commitment to their community and country that is worthy of emulation and commendation.Smasheroni
Anyway, my dears, to celebrate their golden wedding jubilee, the Stewarts threw a reception last Saturday that got under way at 5 p.m., the time the couple actually exchanged marital vows on the June 9, 1962. And, as was the case 50 years ago, the maid of honour, the charming Joan Bryden-Whelan - who jetted in from her studies in Canada to perform the role - jetted in again from Canada to toast the couple on their milestone anniversary.
Well, me daahlings, with this being the Stewarts' golden jubilee, the truth is those invited to share in commemorating it were expecting nothing but a smasheroni. And, my dears, suffice it to say, they were not disappointed, as indeed, when the last song had been sung, the last of the gourmet fare had been taken, and the last flute of champagne had been swilled and enjoyed, there was none who could not say this was a celebration of which I was truly happy to have been a part!
My dears, we are talking a celebration of the flawless kind here, as in gourmet service and order and nothing but, as indeed, the Stewarts transformed their fabulous estate into a style-perfect magma, with lounges and bistro-style accommodation; celebrity chef, the renowned Suzanne Couch, in house, creating her culinary magic; a juice bar, a champagne bar, and a premium bar, and a battery of waiters, at everyone's beck and call from the very get-go and then some!
Luv, we are talking, music through the ages as Johnny Rodgers took guests on a musical escapade that spanned the decades, and had guests up and dancing, but it was the command performance by the iconic Ernie Smith and Pluto Shervington that proved not just fabulous entertainment, but was, in essence, a cultural and social journey that not only mesmerised. It truly transported guests to a time when the perception was that ours was truly a kinder and gentler society.
But luvs, talk about beautiful, it was a night when beauty, style and elegance trumped all else, and pure sophistication reigned, alongside Moët & Chandon!
Daahlings, talk about a champagne party! Well, pumpkins, this was it and then some!
No long ceremony here, merely an acknowledgement of the occasion by MC Mario Machado, with toasts from family friend Robert MacMillan, Joan Bryden-Whelan, a charmingly lovely poem dedicated to the celebrating couple by their grandchildren, and the response by the 'bride and groom'. Then it was back to celebrating the event in free-flowing style!
Oh, my word! What a night! Dears, it was totally fabulous and nothing but!
Among those out celebrating with the couple were Custos of Trelawny The Hon Paul Muschette; American Ambassador Her Excellency Pamela Bridgewater; mother of the 'bride', the charmingly lovely and spirited Jo Page, who celebrated her 91st birthday two days earlier; son Duncan and Debbie Stewart and their children Stephanie and Timothy; daughter Jacqueline Stewart Lechler and husband James Lechler and their children, Christina, Amanda and Jame; Robin and Trina Delisser; David and Betty DeLisser; Peter and Stephanie McConnell; Peter and Joan McConnell; Mark and Diane McConnell; Hon Dennis Lalor; Christopher and Michelle Bovell; Cecil and Rosie McIver Mrs Erith Brassington; Joe and Bernadette Matalon; Michael Campbell and his companion Dulcie Moody; Charley and Lisa Johnston; the charming Mrs Susan Scott; Anthony and Jeanne Watson and their son James Watson ; John and Mary Ramson; Sameer and Lila Younis; Dr Ronnie Duquesnay; the elegant Lolita Evans; Sydney Abrahams and Mrs Marlene Williams; Moxie and Lourice Morrison; Mrs Lorna Myers; Le Grand Dame Mrs Jeanne Stewart; the charmingly fab Mrs Karen Sangster; Mrs Carol MacMillan; Hugh and Margaret Croskery; Elias and Diane Brimo; Richard and Leora Downer; Gordon and Jeanette Langford; Peter and Stacy Milligen; Capt Horace Burrell; Kent and Virginia LaCroix; Brian and LisaMay Pengelley; Paul and Becky Stockhausen; Ewan Fletcher and Marjorie Borough; Patrick and Regina Sleem; the lovely Mrs Fiona Machado and their charming daughter Sommer Machado; Lisa Marzouca Julius and Donna Chin Yee; Gulu and Veena Chanrai; Paul Passmore; Holger and Sarah Waehling; the lovely Candy Crichton DePass; Don and Antoinette Callum; Alec and Jackie Henderson; Tom and Dawn Lee; Andrea Bickhoff-Benjamin; Anton Burke; Michael and Beverly Hirst; Andrew and Bambi Fowles; Derek Elder and Jenny O'Neil; Jim and Melissa Esliger; Greg and Viviene Lue-Tenn; Sammy Crichton; David and Kathy Moss; Martin Viera and Jenni Lopez; Danny and Peggy O'Hara; Richard and Laurie Parchment; Gregory and Ingrid Worton; Mrs Debbie Yapp; Colin and Karen Whittingham; Greg Ward and companion Julia Armstrong; Major George and Michelle Reynolds; Paul and Tracy Josephs; MP Daryl and Ann-Marie Vaz; her sister, the lovely Trisha Thompson, also out; Paul Lalor; Peter and Nicola Melhado; Gregory and Michelle Mayne; Anup and Bina Chandiram; Chris Berry and wife Dr Patricia Yapp; Mark and Karen Myers; Mark and Genny Berry; Tarun and Catherine Handa; Anthony and Angeline Harris and their lovely daughter the beautiful Chrystelle Harris; Doug and Jackie Brooks; Matt Lyn and Jodi Nam; the fabulous Aliya Lazarus; plus several others.
But indeed, my dears, this was haute eleganza at its finest, and the coup de grce was the rider that Richard and Diana Stewart placed on their guests that instead of bringing them gifts, a donation be made to the Richard and Diana Stewart Foundation to assist with the construction of a basic school this summer.
Dears, it was all too fab for mere