Sunday 28 May 2023

My Grandfather Floris Simmons: A Botanist in the Making

My grandfather Floris Simmons in his later years. (The journal is Agricultural News, Volume X, No. 231, Page 75. Published March 4, 1911).

This is a copy of a report on the examination performance in agricultural school of my maternal grandfather Floris Simmons in a 1911 edition of Agricultural News.

Agricultural News was a fortnightly review of the Imperial Department of Agriculture for the British West Indies.

The young Floris was a pupil at St. Vincent Agricultural School located on the Island-Colony of Saint Vincent in the British West Indies.

His result in the half-yearly examination was reported by the examiner to have been "the best" among the senior boys.

In 1916, he obtained a second class certificate following an Examination in Practical Agriculture held under the auspices of the Imperial Department of Agriculture.

After training as a botanist he was appointed as the Foreman at the Experiment Station of the Department of Agriculture, a post which he held for many years. 

He held additional responsibilities. 

For instance, a Report on the Agricultural Department, St. Vincent in 1919 recorded that when the Assistant Agricultural Superintendent was partially seconded to carry out research work in connection with cotton under the auspices of the British Department for Scientific and Industrial Research, and under the direction of the Imperial Commissioner of Agriculture for the West Indies, my grandfather was appointed to "undertake travelling instruction duties in addition to his own".

A 1943 report published by the Saint Vincent Department of Agriculture records him as serving as the Agricultural Assistant in Carriacou, the Grenadine Island on which my Mother was born. 

He later entered politics and in 1956 was elected as Chairman of the district council of Bequia, the island of his birth.

A few years ago, the present prime minister of Saint Vincent, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, referred to my grandfather as one of the "political icons" of the island-nation. 

Pa Floris was one of the "Eight Army of Liberation" of the island of Saint Vincent. He and the others were members of the Saint Vincent Labour Party which is often described as the "political arm of the St. Vincent Working Men’s Cooperative Association (WMA)".

© Adeyinka Makinde (2023).

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.

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