Dame Olga Christine Lopes-Seale, DA, GCM, MBE, BSS
Social and Community Worker, Barbados
Dame Olga Lopes-Seale (26 December 1918 – 4 February 2011) was a Guyanese-born Barbados-based social and community worker, radio broadcaster and singer.
Early life and education
Dame Olga Christine Lopes-Seale was born in Guyana on Boxing Day, 26 December 1918.
When broadcasting began in British Guiana, she played the mandolin and she sang! She joined Radio Demerara as producer and presenter of popular programmes – Classical, Children’s and Inspirational.
Her legendary charity work began by chance. She heard about five poor little boys who needed clothes at Christmas, and sought help on her programmes. The response was beyond her wildest dreams, and in no time her Christmas effort snow balled, into the Needy Children’s Fund, sustaining 1500 children every year.
In 1937 she met a Bajan, Dick Seale, and they married. In 1963 they moved to Barbados with their children Marcia and John. Here she joined Rediffusion, beginning her famous Children’s Programme, and hence her sobriquet “Auntie Olga”. She resumed her charity work, founding the Rediffusion Needy Children’s Fund, and fame followed as an angel of mercy.
She became the most loved personality on radio. From 1964 until now, she looks after 200 needy children, with food vouchers, uniforms, books and shoes.
But in keeping with her credo ‘from womb to tomb’, Auntie Olga has also helped many senior citizens, raising large sums for the Soroptomists Village. And as a doyen of the media, she spots top talent. She loved, played and promoted Roland Edwards’ magnificent music until it became our National Anthem.
Olga Lopes-Seale has touched the lives of thousands of Bajans, in thirty years of broad-casting and forty years of casting … her net for charity. She has lived a life of love in the service of others. For Auntie Olga, to love is to serve.
We all know her for her selfless dedication to the needs of the poor, the young and the old, for her love of people and her tireless work as broadcaster, columnist, and crusader.
Dame Olga was made a Member of the British Empire in1961, has a Silver Crown of Merit and a Gold Crown of Merit, is a Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary South (my club) and in 1997 she was admitted to the Caribbean Broadcasting Hall of Fame.
She was proclaimed Tour Guide of the Year by the BTA in 1997, given a Doctorate of Letters by the Barbados Community College, and the Honours list goes on, and on, and on ….
Honours and awards
In 2005, the Accolade of Dame of St. Andrew, Barbados' highest national honour, was conferred on Olga Lopes-Seale in recognition of her unswerving commitment to public and community service.
On 9 December 2010, she fell at her home and broke her hip, suffering multiple fractures, leaving her unable to continue her charity work for the Needy Children's Fund. Lopes-Seale died on 4 February 2011, aged 92 at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Bridgetown, Barbados.