From the May 2011 magazine.

May 2011 AA Around the World: Island in the Sun

Celebrating a half-century of AA history in Barbados

Barbados AA is coming of age.

The Planning Committee for the 50th Anniversary celebration of AA in Barbados has chosen as its convention theme “Barbados Comes of Age.” This theme was the unanimous choice of the planning committee, but some members are of the opinion that the theme is an expression of optimism, a hope rather than a reality.

Although it is agreed that AA in Barbados is 50 years old, specific information about the beginnings of AA in Barbados is at best imprecise, often contradictory, and impossible to verify. The two main sources of information have been the recollections of Barbados’ two longest-sober members, Tony V. and Ulric R., but their memories have not always been consistent.  The “founder” of AA in Barbados has been reported as either a Californian or a Canadian.  He may even have been a Canadian with a residence in California.  The version of the founding of AA in Barbados that has gained the most traction suggests that in the early 1960s, Ed A., from San Diego, CA, who had previously been exposed to AA in the U.S., was living and working in Bridgetown, the capital city of Barbados.  In March, 1962, Ed made a visit to the offices of the Advocate, Barbados’s principal newspaper, then located in Broad St., the main street in Bridgetown.  Upon entering the newsroom, he was directed to the secretary of Ian Gale, the newspaper’s editor.  When he met with Mr. Gale, Ed expressed his interest in using the public media to spread the word about problems with alcohol.  Mr. Gale told Ed, “I’ve got the right man for you,” and directed Ed to meet with one of his journalists, Tony V.  By that time, Tony had earned a reputation as being a heavy drinker and had previously been advised by Mr. Gale to cut down on the hard stuff, to leave out rum and drink only beer. In Ed’s first conversation with Tony, he said he would like somebody to write an article on alcohol abuse in Barbados, including statistics on the effects and consequences, and also that he would like to get an AA program started in Barbados.

-- Tony H.

St. Michael, Barbados

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