Participants wrap ribbons around a maypole at a cultural soirée celebrating Senior Citizens Month on Friday at the Noel Lloyd Positive Action Movement Park. (Photo: ALLISON VAUGHN)

On a sunny Friday morning in the Noel Lloyd Positive Action Movement Park, Jennifer Cameron-Bertie was sitting with other seniors under a canopy and reflecting on the history of the Virgin Islands.

“I was born in the era when the BVI supported St. Thomas, actually,” the Apple Bay native said. “They used to go every two weeks or so to St. Thomas and St. Croix taking the cattle and all the provisions.”

But Ms. Cameron-Bertie did not come to the closing event for Senior Citizens Month to sit.

“I’ve been up and moving around, sometimes dancing,” she said.

And when organisers called for a dozen volunteers to gather around a maypole, Ms. Cameron-Bertie joined them in weaving the colourful ribbons.

VI culture

The event also embraced Virgin Islands culture through several stalls that showcased historic items or sold traditional food and handmade clothing.

Geraldin Smith, who wore a traditional outfit she said a friend made for her, helped oversee a stall displaying antiques including calabash bowls, other cookware and old radios.

Though the items did not belong to her, she said she had a lot of memories of using such objects.

Unis Donovan, a senior manager for the Social Development Department, said the month’s activities were designed in part to honour the elderly.

“They have done a lot for the country, and it’s our time to give back, and, you know, to respect them for what they have done for us,” she said, adding, “We just want to honour them.”


A band plays Friday at a cultural soirée — the last event in May celebrating Senior Citizens Month. (Photo: ALLISON VAUGHN)
‘Never too old’

Jost Van Dyke senior Daniel Blyden said events like the cultural soirée help him stay active and continue to learn.

“I like to mix with people, get to know people,” Mr. Blyden said. “You know, you’re never too old to learn.”

Pete Smith, a volunteer who also served as the emcee for the event, stressed the importance of giving back to the community.

“They’re the ones that took care of us,” Mr. Smith said. “And they’re the last generation that knows what Totola used to be like. Their parents would have been the children coming out of the slavery days, back when Tortola had nothing.”

He added, “We have to look out for them, because without them we wouldn’t have been here.”


Geraldin Smith helps set up a booth displaying various antique items from the Virgin Islands. (Photo: ALLISON VAUGHN)
Month’s activities

Other events that were held throughout the month included a church service; an open house at the Adina Donovan Home for the Elderly; a brunch in Anegada; and “intergenerational” days where seniors and students at different schools took part in various activities, according to Ms. Donovan.

This year was the 35th year of celebrating Senior Citizens Month in the VI. The theme for the month was “Powered by Connections.”