Thu | Dec 8, 2016

Understand the inclusive history of Tryall

Published:Thursday | February 5, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Piers Diacre, Contributor

I read with a heavy heart that The Tryall Club in Hanover is battling claims of racism. This has prompted me to write to you.

Our family knows Tryall very well, having been going there for the past 45 years. My father ran the club in the '70s and '80s, and we had a house and farm a few miles along the coast where we spent a great deal of time.

It is far from being a place steeped in racism. You ought perhaps to send somebody to that end of the island to look what Tryall has been doing so well for nearly 60 years by helping provide money, jobs, charity, welfare, education, health amenities, training and much more.

The local community has flourished under the enormous generosity of Tryall members and the work that people like Sally Reed, Louise Cullman, Christopher Wordsworth, Hope Marks and many others have put in to make that corner of Jamaica a very special place for the Jamaicans who live and work there.

NO RACISM PRESENT

Tryall has had Jamaican home-owners, also non-homeowning Jamaican members and even, in my father's case, a Jamaican running the place - albeit a naturalised citizen rather than one one who was born there. Tryall would open its doors to Jamaican government ministers when they were travelling the north shore of the island and would from time to time accommodate them at members' villas. To me, none of this suggests racism.

Mr James, who claims he did not get the job for racist reasons, does indeed have fine credentials as a hotelier. But does Tryall need a great hotelier?

Tryall is many things but it is not a hotel. It is a members' club. Clubs require very different management skills than hotels and there is virtually no evidence to suggest that you can pluck a person out of the hotel industry and get them to run a club successfully.

The person who joins Tryall as managing director needs many fine characteristics, beginning with a vision of how to make the club a place for future generations to enjoy. They need the respect and consideration of the club's members who have chosen him or her, the ability to work with and get the best out of the clubs suppliers who have been involved with Tryall for many years and, of course, most important of all, respect in and from the local community that this person really does understand their lives and has the best interests of the Tryall workers in their heart.

The unique local staff - drawn mostly from Sandy Bay and the surrounding hills - that make up the Tryall workforce look to the man in charge to be a charismatic leader who understands them and not just the paymaster who employs them. And the good ones Tryall has, as we all know, are loyal, honourable and trustworthy.

Running Tryall well and building it for the long term is a tough job. The comment that managing Tryall is "a walk in the park" is just the sort of self- satisfied, complacent approach that would in no time set the workforce under him alive with frustration and dissatisfaction. The Jamaicans who work at Tryall take the view that the man who sits in the air-conditioned office as 'the boss', the man who is never seen on foot across the property seeing what they have to do and how they have to do it is the man who neither respects them nor will ever be capable of winning their respect.

The Gleaner has been important to Jamaican life for all the years we have been coming to the island. Perhaps the national motto 'Out of Many, One People' may be more a wish than a reality but to me it says we are all in this together - the guests, the bosses, the workers, the journalists and The Gleaner taking the opportunity to look at what Tryall does in the local community could be a first step in greater understanding.

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