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Westmoreland Family reunites in Jamaica

Published:Tuesday | July 21, 2015 | 11:40 AMDave Rodney
Family and friends at Petersfield, Westmoreland, where the family hosted an all-Jamaican welcome luncheon.
Manning’s School (1738) was one of the stops in Savanna-la-Mar and the school immediately brought back memories for many family members.
The oldest and youngest members of the Irving/Stewart family. A gap of 90 years separates Enid (left) from great- grand-niece Leigha, who she is holding.

Westmoreland Family Reunites in Jamaica

Various branches of the Irving/ Stewart/ Turner/ Rodney families who reside in various parts of the United States and the United Kingdom returned to their roots in Jamaica from July 8 to 12, to focus on family and to spend quality time doing fun-filled activities, exploring their roots in the parish and mapping a family tree.

More than 30 family members and friends who reside overseas were joined by other relatives based in Jamaica at the Merril's Beach Resort in Negril, for a flurry of activities that brought together family members, some of whom had not seen each other in many years.

The family had never done something like this before, and the idea was conceived by two family members who are based in South Florida, Lorna Rodney-Suite and Latisha Turner-Daley.

"We were tired of meeting just for weddings and funerals, and as busy as everyone gets these days with work, I felt it was important to pause for a few days and join hands in fun and fellowship", Rodney-Suite said.

immediately embraced

Both women shared the idea with other family members and it was immediately embraced by all. The only issue was what time of year to do this, and the summer seemed to work for most, when the children are out of school.

Planning began in earnest- negotiating and selecting a resort, finding appropriate ground transportation, creating commemorative t shirts and gift bags, finalising an itinerary that would appeal to all ages and setting up a family photo shoot.

Nearly all the planning and preparation for the trip was done by the youngsters in the family while the older family members watched approvingly from the sidelines. Activities included a welcome meet and greet, walking tours of communities where forefathers lived and where the family grew up, a family history night and visits to Kool Runnings Water Park in Negril, the scenic Black River Safari, YS Falls and Rick's Cafe for the breathtaking sunset. The family also attended the Harvest celebration at St George's Parish Church in Savanna-la-Mar.

"The entire trip was amazing with very few glitches and everyone had a great time reconnecting with each other and making fascinating new discoveries about the family history", Turner Daley said. "Very few family members knew, for example, that our great, great grandmother came to Jamaica from Madagascar in the 1860s after emancipation. People were riveted and some are already asking about the next trip", she added.