Brief biography of Wilfred Redhead
Wilfred (Willie) Redhead whose name the foundation bears was a man of many parts, indeed-he has been referred to as a RENAISSANCE MAN due to his many accomplishments.
Willie Redhead was the 5th of six siblings and was born on November 10, 1908 and passed away on February 23, 1993 at the age of 85. During his lifetime he was, among many things-Superintendent of Her Majesty’s prisons in both Grenada and Barbados, he was Administrator of Carriacou and Petite Martinique with added responsibility of Assistant Magistrate. Redhead was recognized internationally and was a contributor to the 865 page of Negro Anthology edited by Nancy Cunard in 1924. At the end of his Public Service career about 1970 he was awarded the Commander of the British Empire (CBE) from her Britannic Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Redhead was very active in the 4H Club and the Boys Scouts movement where he rose to Chief Commissioner in both Grenada and Barbados, he also served in the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade where he also rose to Commissioner, he was also an amateur astrologer. Willie was a keen sportsman but football was his passion, he wrote several short stories and one act plays which were aired locally and on the BBC in the 195o’s. In his later years he became enamored with the city of St. George’s where he was born, and wrote weekly articles in the Grenadian Voice newspaper on aspects of historic St. George; and eventually wrote a book in 1985 entitled “A City on a Hill” in which he prefaced with the followings words:
“Not Houses finely roofed or the stones of wall well
builded, nay nor canals and dockyards, make the city,
but men able to use their opportunities”
Aristides : Rhodian Oration.
It was his weekly articles on heritage and scenic St. George which influenced Norris Mitchell, a Heritage and Historic Architect, to get to know Mr. Redhead. Mitchell who became a member of the old National Trust and Historic Society got to know Willie reasonably well as he was then its president, and later was invited to be the patron of the Grenada Society of Architects in 1989, which came to an early end at his death in 1993.
After the passing of Redhead, Mitchell became imbued with the idea, that a man who had made such a remarkable contribution to the nation should not be forgotten and be relegated to the dust-bin of Grenadian history; and so approached the late Leslie Pierre, Editor and Publisher of the Voice newspaper, as he was a personal friend of Willie, to enquire whether he would support a Foundation formed in honour of Wilfred “Willie” Redhead, to which he readily agreed.
Leslie suggested that Ray Smith should also be invited, and when approached, he also supported the idea; and to make a long story short – “the Willie Redhead Foundation” a Not for Profit, Non-Government Organisation for the preservation and urban renewal of St. Georges, which maxim has since changed to “For the preservation and renewal of the National Heritage of Grenada,” was formed on May 9, 1994 with the pro bono assistance from the Law Firm of Renwick & Payne.
Mitchell became the Foundation’s first President from 1994-2012 with Leslie and Ray as its first Directors and the late Paula Williams its Executive Secretary. Arnold Cruickshank succeeded Leslie as Director in 2000 and in 2012 a new Executive was elected with Samuel “Tim” Byam as President, James Finlay as Vice President and Cecil Edwards as Treasurer.
Twenty years have passed and it can be said without contradiction, that the Foundation has made its presence felt in awakening the Grenadian populace to the reality, that GRENADA is a gem of the Caribbean, and its Capital City – St. George’s – a unique and historic town site, the envy of other Caribbean nations.
This awareness, unfortunately has not been a part of the Grenadian consciousness and it is our visitors who have to draw to our attention the beauty of our island and the architectural character and charm of our Capital City.