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VETS FIGHT ON - Ex-soldiers live under trying circumstances at Curphey Home

Published:Saturday | September 15, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Superintendent Clifton Irwin
Elene Vermont, the lone female veteran.
Ninety-one-year-old Lloyd Wint.
Matron Staple-Johnson assisting former soldier Wendel Thompson. - Photo by Angelo Laurence
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Angelo Laurence, Gleaner Writer

MANDEVILLE, Manchester:

THE POLITICAL rights and freedoms enjoyed by Jamaicans are often taken for granted with little acknowledgement of the thousands of Jamaican men and women who fought in distant lands in the two world wars to preserve them.

Regrettably, many made the ultimate sacrifice while being members of the British military fighting the Nazis during the wars (WWI, 1914-1918; WWII, 1934-1945). Those who made it home were not forgotten.

In the 1950s, Curphey Home was established under the direction of the Jamaican Legion to nurture the needs of our war veterans, especially in their senior years.

Sitting on 54 acres of land in south Manchester, six miles to the south of Mandeville, it remains the place of comfort for 13 former soldiers, including one female, who served Jamaica with distinction.

Among the group is 90-year-old John Lloyd Wint, and a former member of the Royal Air Force. The brother of Jamaica's first Olympic gold medallist, Arthur Wint, he remains mentally sharp and is in good health. When The Gleaner visited the home, he was busy having lunch while watching television. He, however, interrupted his lunch to offer his welcome.

CHALLENGES

While the care being given to the soldiers is exceptional and the facility is immaculately clean, it still faces many challenges.

Superintendent Irwin, who is in charge of Curphey Home, said the main problem results from a lack of piped water, and the closing down of the mining company, Alpart, which used to assist the home with the commodity.

Frequent power cuts by the Jamaica Public Service Company are also causing safety concerns and discomfort for the residents.

Matron Teisha Staple-Johnson indicated that a working standby generator would be a welcome addition to the facility.

Aware of the contributions of these and other Jamaicans - who fought to keep Jamaica, as well as British, American, French and several other country's citizens from Nazi domination - custos of Manchester, Sally Porteous, is spearheading a drive to assist Curphey Home to continue to deliver quality care to these former soldiers. A concert to raise funds will be staged, in association with the Jamaica Regiment Band, tomorrow at deCarteret College in Mandeville.

The custos told The Gleaner: "Freedom is priceless, and at no time should it be treated lightly, or there may come a day when future generations will have to fight for it all over again, as these former soldiers did."

rural@gleanerjm.com