Sunday 25 October, 2020

Toots to be buried at Heroes Park - Grange

Reggae icon Frederick ’Toots’ Hibbert will be interred at National Heroes' Park.

The Minister of Culture, Gender Entertainment and Sport, Olivia Grange, made the announcement in a statement Saturday.

Toots will be buried in the section of the park reserved for Jamaica’s cultural icons.

Minister Grange said this had become possible thanks to the generosity of the family of the late Charles Hyatt — the actor, broadcaster, director and author — whose remains were due to be re-interred in the last burial spot for cultural icons at National Heroes' Park.

Grange said at the time of his death in January, 2007, Hyatt’s family had requested that he be buried inside National Heroes' Park. However, the family was told that there were no more spaces available and he was instead interred at Meadowrest Memorial Park in St Catherine.

“It was later discovered that there was one final burial space available in the relevant section at National Heroes' Park and the government went back to the family who decided that they would exhume Mr Hyatt's remains and re-inter them in National Heroes Park.

“It has been several years since that decision,” Grange explained.

She said that given the current need for a suitable burial place for Toots, the Hyatt family has generously consented to allow the reggae legend to be interred in the final burial spot in the section for cultural icons in National Heroes' Park. Grange said Prime Minister Andrew Holness has given his approval.

The development comes days after Toot’s burial was aborted as the burial order was reportedly not issued to the family. The Clarendon native was to have been interred at Dovecot.

Toots died at the University Hospital of the West Indies on September 11, some 12 days after being admitted after contracting COVID-19. He was 77.

Grange said she deeply appreciates the consideration of the Hyatt family in this matter.

“Toots is without question one of the pioneers of reggae music. He has even been credited with giving the genre its name. He is a national treasure whose humble demeanour and affable personality belied his towering global stature. Interment in National Heroes Park will suitably memorialise his contribution to Jamaica and reignite the unity in his family, among his peers and his fans which is required at this time,” Grange stated.

Meanwhile, Grange said she has also endorsed plans to erect a monument to Toots in his hometown.

And, she stressed that the current situation has highlighted the need for the establishment of a Memorial Park for the interment of Jamaica's cultural icons. She said work commenced on such a project during the Bruce Golding administration.

“So far we have developed a concept, identified a location where the relevant tests, including soil testing, have been completed. We will now move to develop the designs and budget to present a detailed proposal to the Cabinet.

“I commit to ensuring that the late Charles Hyatt is memorialised in the proposed park,” Grange said.

Cultural icon Louise Bennett-Coverley and her husband Eric Coverly are buried at Heroes Park, so too the Crown Prince of Reggae, Dennis Brown.

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