My Montserrat: Rose Willock
Rose Willock is a renowned Montserratian radio personality and activist. She is the host of The Culture Show on Radio Montserrat. Ms. Willock’s service to Montserrat, especially in building capacity for emergency broadcasting, is well-known. In 1986 she was made a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) and in 1996, she was made an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE). Ms.Willock was inducted in the Caribbean Broadcast Union’s Hall of Fame in 2015. Rose Willock is proud of her country.
Describe Montserrat in three words.
My earthly Valhalla.
Which area are you from?
I grew up in the east of the island, the area that was destroyed by the volcano.
What is your favourite traditional dish?
Our delicious national dish, Goat Water.
What is your favourite childhood memory?
Waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of persons from my village ‘singing out’ or serenading. These Serenaders would be a combination of men and women who came together in an informal way teaming up with someone who played the concertina, mouth organ, the ukulele and banjos. Sometimes the mouth organ would be a piece of cloth covering a comb which produced the same sound as a bona fide mouth organ. Initially the Serenaders would go from house to house in the village a few weeks before Christmas Day, and then return before the event to remind the householders that ‘Christmas was coming.’
What was your favourite subject in high school?
I loved my English classes, but my favourite subject was English Literature. I am an avid reader. During high school, I did all the required reading for my literature classes, and any other book that we had to study for our various subject classes, whether history or geography. I enjoyed historical fiction novels which I borrowed from the local library.
Which local activist/personality do you admire the most, and why?
Political activist and visionary, the late William Henry Bramble. He was the island’s first Chief Minister. Bramble is the man I consider to be responsible for leading Montserrat out of the ‘dark ages’ into a modern society and onto the road to economic and social enlightenment. My admiration for this iconic figure from humble beginnings grew out of my knowledge of his lifelong passion for the improvement of his people. He made sure that Montserrat was able to access, apply and use modern techniques for economic and social development; he manipulated his benefactors and administrative superiors to make sure this happened.
Where would you recommend as a ‘must go’ to a first time visitor to Montserrat?
Jack Boy Hill, the area in the north east of the island. Visitors will get a full view of the now destroyed airport as well as see the volcano close up that destroyed so much of our beloved island, even while it created new land thereby making the island physically larger than it was 21 years ago.
Where do you go to kick back and relax with family and friends?
The Silver Hills are my preferred place to enjoy peace and quiet and tranquillity that my soul seeks after hectic days on our ever changing island.
What major developments would you like to see happen in Montserrat in the next 20 years?
My main wish is easy access. I hope that one day we will have effective health services, a proper Port, affordable housing, a choice of recreational facilities, people empowerment endeavours, cohesive cultural diversity and economic brands. Perhaps this would entice those who have left my island Valhalla to return from abroad, and come home for good.