Tourism’s queen of craft, Melody Haughton, dies
One of tourism’s most decorated stalwarts, Melody Haughton, passed away suddenly on Tuesday morning.
She was 51.
Haughton, who served as president of the Harbour Street Craft and Cultural Village for the last 25 years, died at her home in Farm Heights, Montego Bay. She was named president of the All-Island Craft Traders and Producers Association 10 years ago and was one of the most vocal stakeholders in the sector.
Her family says she has had respiratory issues for the last two years and was hospitalised over a year ago. Up to last Saturday, Haughton was reportedly in high spirits.
Haughton’s death has left gloom over the craft market, which has more than 200 shops and approximately 420 occupants. As her members mourned openly, one of her deputies, Carol McLennon, said her death was devastating owing to the impact her work has had on their lives.
“She was actively involved on the cross-country board and was recently asked to run their craft programme at their resorts across the island,” McLennon told The Gleaner.
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett offered condolences to Haughton’s family.
“Melody’s passion for the craft industry and, by extension, tourism is truly unmatched and our industry will not be the same without her,” Bartlett said in a statement.
Still shocked by her sister’s death, Patsy Ebanks, who wept during the interview, said she last spoke with Haughton on Saturday and could not believe how quickly her health had deteriorated.
Haughton’s daughter, Trena-Lee Thompson, a beneficiary of her mother’s hard work in the tourist industry, was as dazed by the reality. She described her mom’s death as a loss to the sector.
“She was the rock for the industry, always fighting for equality, because she believed it was the industry that provided the funding for her brothers and sisters to attend teachers’ college and earn their doctorates,” said Thompson.
Haughton followed in the footsteps of her mother, Gloria Gordon, who was also a craft merchant. When Haughton left Jamaica on the overseas work programme, Thompson said her mom took over responsibility by ensuring her brothers and sisters received the best educational opportunities.
“She has been in and out hospital in the last few years, but she was back to normal, so her death is shocking,” an inconsolable Thompson cried.
As news of Haughton’s death spread throughout the sector, Novelette Clarke, secretary of the Olde Market Craft, Ocho Rios, spoke of a woman who had a passion for craft and its purveyors.
“This was a lady who we could depend on, share our vision with. She knew what she wanted and she was fearless in making everyone know,” said Clarke.