St Lucian heroes: Sir John Compton
St Lucia named Sir John Compton one of its first national heroes, along with Sir George Charles, in February 2015.
Born in Canouan in St Vincent and the Grenadines in 1925, Sir John moved to his adopted land of St Lucia when he was 14 years old.
After school he left the island to study law and economics at the University College of Wales and the London School of Economics and was called to the bar in 1951.
When he returned to St Lucia, Sir John became involved with politics and ran as an independent for the seat in Micoud/Dennery and was elected in 1954. Later that same year, he joined the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) which had been formed by Sir George with his father James Charles and others.
In the 1957 General Election, Sir John won his seat and became deputy leader of the SLP and Minister for Trade and Production, but he decided to leave the SLP in 1961 and form his own party – the National Labour Movement.
In 1964, Sir John’s party joined forces with the People’s Progressive Party to create the United Workers’ Party (UWP). The UWP was immediately successful at the polls, winning elections held in June 1964, and Sir John became Saint Lucia’s Chief Minister.
While in office Sir John pushed for Saint Lucia’s complete independence from the UK and on February 22nd, 1979 the island became a sovereign state and Sir John was the newly independent nation’s first Prime Minister.
Sir John served as Prime Minister again from 1982 to 1996 and in 2006 after he made a surprise return to lead the UWP at the age of 80.
Unfortunately, Sir John’s third time as Prime Minister was cut short as he suffered from ill health and in September 2007 he died in the Tapion Hospital in Saint Lucia following a series of debilitating strokes and pneumonia. The island observed two weeks of mourning for the ‘Father of the Nation’ and he was given a state funeral in Castries.
Sir John was cremated on September 19th, 2007 and as per his request, his ashes were spread in the Troumasse River at his estate in Mahaut.