Difficult Conversations – An Open Letter to the Vaxxed

Dear Fellow Citizens:

During my second year at Combermere School, a lunch-time game was organised by students, where one boy would chase the other boys in the class around the school. If he caught one, he would lash him once and that boy would join him in hunting the others. If they caught another boy, then both would lash him, and he would join in the hunt.

Eventually, there were only two boys left to be caught. I was the smallest and slowest boy in the class – because I was the youngest by up to 2 years. But I evaded capture by sharply changing direction when chased – a frustrating tactic for the chaser.


I was eventually caught, and my initiation into the hunter group resembled a gang beat-down. Those recently initiated now had an opportunity to be on the giving end – and they did not hold back. Once initiated, I had to join the hunt for the last boy.

Unlike me, he was genuinely fast. He should be rewarded for being the last boy on the run. But instead, he would receive the greatest punishment. He was inevitably caught. As the previous last person caught, I was to deliver the final lash as others held him.

He looked at me. A few minutes ago, we were on the same side. I gently touched his back, and I saw an expression – gratitude, something I was not given the opportunity to express when I was in that position.


Combermere is the way of fairness. Sometime during that game, I think that many of us understood that the game was unfair. But being caught up in the game, we unthinkingly acted our assigned roles. To my knowledge, that game was never played again during my time at Combermere School. That was 45 years ago.

Last week, I took an antibody test to see whether I unknowingly had COVID-19. The test was negative, so I am still on the run. I follow the sanitary protocols, and they have worked. However, I feel that I am not only being chased by COVIOD-19, but you, the Vaxxed.


Twice in the past 4 months, I was denied work opportunities – I was told that it was because I was not vaccinated. As a senior Structural Engineer, I am fortunate to have options. But others in this unVaxxed group do not. I see others in this group being threatened with employment termination, having their freedoms restricted, and losing opportunities for career advancement. What gives you the right to do this?

Once you achieve your aim of 70% injected, are the remaining 30% to be permanently unemployed, or undesirable and untouchable outcasts? Have you thought this thing through?

The unVaxxed are now being accused of being unChristian for not getting the injection. They are being accused of not caring about Barbadian children who are too young to be vaccinated. How dare you? I mean HOW DARE YOU!


Last week, I wondered what would have happened if those who had not been caught, simply refused to play the game until the rules were changed. Why should those who are doing everything right, be punished for their success? But 45 years ago, we were hunted, scattered, and divided. Last week, I realised that we do not have to be.

I am asking for a truce – an end to: the hostile threats, the denying of work and employment opportunities, the discrimination, and the despicable accusations. I am calling for a truce.

The world is going crazy, and we have little influence on what other countries do. But we can discuss how we can exist together, during this pandemic, on this island we call our home. So far, the rules have been written by the Vaxxed and exclusively for the Vaxxed – is that fair?


So why should you listen to me? I think that I have some standing. Of the 9 political parties who contested the last General Election, Solutions Barbados got the third highest votes cast, at 5,842. To put that number in context, it represents over 5% of the total votes cast, which proportionally would represent approximately two seats in the House of Assembly on our first outing.

Solutions Barbados candidates generally spent less than 3% of what the BLP or DLP candidates spent. I spent about 2% of what the BLP candidate spent. Despite that, outside of the BLP and DLP, I received the most votes cast of any candidate from the other 7 parties.


So, on that basis, I am calling for a truce. Perhaps Mr David Ellis may moderate an honest discussion on how we can move forward united on this matter. To help you empathise, consider the following hypothetical situation.

Suppose the WHO claimed that a new variant made the Vaxxed a danger to society. Would you want the unVaxxed to treat you like how you are treating them? Would you want the unVaxxed to put you in isolation concentration camps? Would you want the unVaxxed to stop you from working, earning, playing, or going to school? Would you want the unVaxxed to take away your unVaxxed children because you were a potential danger to them?


We are being deceived into treating each other as enemies. We are not. We are your fellow: classmates, workmates, congregants, family members, and citizens. We were recently on the same team where our common enemy was COVID-19. Now, more of you are behaving like hunters – and every week, I am feeling more like the hunted.

I am asking for an honest discussion of the rules. To facilitate this honesty, it should include what should happen if the Vaxxed are later found to be a danger to Barbados. That may seem like an unlikely nightmare scenario – but the unVaxxed are currently living your nightmare.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

Call to Arms for Combermerians Everywhere

The reputation of the Waterford University has taken a big dent in recent months. The inability of the authorities to effectively manage the problems at the school have been well documented and discussed on social media. BU has followed the saga at Combermere Secondary School with interest because many in the BU household have benefited from instruction through the years from dedicated teachers well supported by support staff. It must pain the alumni everywhere to be witnessing the diminution of the Cawmere ethos that has been the envy of many.

It has become obvious to BU based on certain knowledge that at the root of the problem is weak leadership at the school.  We offer no apology to anyone by defining the weakness in leadership as Principal Vere Parris, President of the Parents Teachers Association Rolerick Sobers AND the comatose Combermere Old Scholars Association (COSA). These three important stakeholders have allowed politics and emotional positions to trump effective decision making at the Waterford institution. BU will withhold airing the dirty laundry in public for the moment but we will if the problems at Combermere School are not resolved in short order. There will be no improvement at the school unless Parris is removed, Sobers -who is also is a vice president of the COSA- is removed, AND, the constitutions of the PTA and COSA are amended to deal with term limits and incestuous behaviour.

An example of the politics affecting Combermere School again manifested itself this week. Minister Ronald Jones in response to concerns raised that the putrid smell at Combermere had gotten worse and “students were complaining of sore throat, itchy skin and headaches, which in some cases caused them to leave early”, he summarily dismissed the charge.  He explained that the school records did not support. Contrast Minister Jones’ position to that taken by President of the BSTU Mary Redman published in today’s Barbados Advocate: “However, President of the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU), Mary Anne Redman says that she is in receipt of reports that teachers are experiencing symptoms like before, which she indicated are related to the odour.” – More Combermere Drama.

The BU household will pray that key players like Mary Redman and Ronald Jones engage in constructive dialogue -for the sake of the children. Why in heavens name a simple fact to determine if children and teachers have reported sick at Combermere School as a result of a heightened stench has to be contentious. Here is where the leadership from by the Principal, PTA and COSA will ease some of the tension. So far the BSTU has been vindicated by their position taken on behalf of members. There was a serious environmental problem at the school that the ministry of education vigorously denied for a long time. In fact all agree – including Parliamentary Secretary Harry Husbands who acted for Minister Jones on the walkthrough with the BSTU before the opening of the term – that there is still work to be done to improve the quality of the environment. Why Jones elected to adopt a bombastic and Trumplike position boggles even the average mind.

The issue of the compromised environment at Combermere School compound needs to be solved once and for all. It is time for Cawmerians everywhere to join the ‘fight’.

Combermere Slipping!

Submitted by Jefferson

Combermere School

It is with great befuddlement that I write about the accomplished Combermere School. For hundreds of years this institution has produced influential citizens like the late Right Honourable David Thompson, former West Indian cricketer Rev. Wes Hall, author Sir Frank Collymore, UNESCO award winning film director and cultural historian Owen “Alik” Shahadah and President of the Senate Kerryann Ifill.

Combermere School offers an excellent music program, are the holders of countless cricketing trophies thanks to the Head of the Physical Education Department Mr. Michael Small, Mr. Roderick Estwick (cricket coach) and Mr. Michael Worrell (athletics coach). Combermere has approximately fifty-four trained teachers including one Guidance Counsellor; most of them possess bachelor degrees with at least three acquiring doctorates. However it is with great disdain that I write about this educational institution that was once rated as number three on the island and is currently failing our inquiring young minds. Let me start with the Principal who has a taken a lackadaisical approach to managing this school that is occupied by teenagers who are academically sound and street wise. Mr. Vere Parris is an invisible principal and he is definitely imperceptible during the lunch break when children are engaging in various unimaginable activities. He operates the school remotely from the confines of his air-conditioned surroundings. It is essential for Combermere School to obtain a leader as vigilant and dynamic as Mr. Vincent Fergusson (former Deputy Principal of Combermere, current Principal of Coleridge and Parry Secondary School). Mr. Parris is known as a courteous gentleman but not one who is a strong disciplinarian or a firm believer in Combermere culture even though he is a former Combermerian.

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