Cricket Fan Celebrates Unbeaten Century With Barbadian President.

President of Barbados, The Most Honourable Dame Sandra Mason, listens attentively as centenarian Esternese Farnum shares one of her life stories. (T. Barker/BGIS)
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One of Barbados cricket’s biggest fans, Esternese Farnum, celebrated her 100th birthday on Saturday, with her family and friends at her home in Church Gap, Hillaby, St. Thomas.

President of Barbados, Dame Sandra Mason visited Mrs. Farnum to join in the celebrations, bringing wine (nonalcoholic) and flowers.

In paying tribute to his mother, Winston Farnum remarked that she “was the best mother that ever was”.  He continued: “She was a strict disciplinarian, but she always believed that the purpose of life is…to…leave this world a better place than we found it, so she instilled those values in all of us.”

Mr. Farnum further added that he and his siblings were brought up in church as his mother would always say to them that they “should know right from wrong”.

The centenarian’s stepdaughter, Maxine Walker, commented that Mrs. Farnum is a “devout Christian, playing an integral role in the church”.  She said: “She led worship, intercessory prayer, and preached sermons…. She lived by Christian principles…. She enforced the Bible.”

Ms. Walker added: “No resources were spared to provide a good education. Ma encouraged us to study hard… so that we would be able to get a good occupation.  We did not disappoint her.”

Raised in Hillaby St. Thomas, the centenarian attended Hillaby Mixed School (now Hillaby Turner’s Hall Primary School). She got into farming and marketed produce in the Bridgetown area to generate an income.  “I was a hawker.  I use[d] to sell and do things in the land,” she said.

Mrs. Farnum gave birth to 12 children (four of whom passed away at an early age) from her marriage to Clairmont Farnum (now deceased).

Initially raised as an Anglican, Mrs. Farnum attended the St. Thomas Parish Church, St. Thomas.  Over the years, she opted to attend other Christian denominations and became an Interim Pastor until her retirement.

Although she has a caregiver, the centenarian continues to wash her clothes and prepare some of her meals, although family members often bring in meals for her.

She likes eating coucou and ground provisions, listening to the radio and enjoys cricket.

She has a very keen interest in the ICC T20 Men’s Cricket World Cup which will be starting on June 1 in just a few weeks from now, but it is uncertain whether she will attend games in person.

Mrs. Farnum, who has clear memories of the 1937 uprising in Barbados and witnessed the raising of the Barbados flag at the Garrison Savannah in 1966, recommended to the “young generation” that rather than eating out “they could get things to cook; it would help them”.

The 1937 riots in Barbados, which led to several deaths were part of a general labour protest movement in the British West Indies in the late 1930s.

As a result of the disturbances, the British government created the Moyne Commission, headed by Lord Moyne, to investigate the need for reforms in housing, agriculture, hospitals, leper homes, prisons, factories, docks, schools, orphanages, land settlement, and political and constitutional matters.

However World War II broke out and most of the suggested reforms were held back until the post-war period, when a process of reform did gradually take place, eventually leading to universal franchise, and in many cases national independence.

After hearing the stories shared by Mrs. Farnum as well as the hymns and anthems recited from memory (some of which were learned at age 11), President Mason remarked that the centenarian had “done extremely well for herself”, adding “I would love to spend the day with you”, to which the centenarian humorously replied, “I ain’t doubt you”.



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