The Right Excellent Sir Frank Leslie Walcott, KA, OBE
National Hero of Barbados
Frank Leslie Walcott (16 September 1916 – 24 February 1999) was a Barbadian trade unionist, politician, ambassador and one of the ten National Heroes of Barbados. He played a key role in organizing the Barbados labour movement and was a major figure in stimulating participation in the nation's political process.
A fearless, formidable man, Sir Frank Leslie Walcott possessed the gift of bargaining. A talented mathematician, skilled craft worker and incredible debater, Sir Frank made remarkable differences throughout his career.
Early life and education
Frank Walcott was born on 16 September 1916 in St. Peter, Barbados. His policeman father died when Walcott was very young. He was raised in Bridgetown, where he attended Wesley Hall Boys' School, excelling in mathematics and debate from an early age.
Frank Walcott was invited by Sir Hugh Springer to join the labour movement. Sir Frank began his vocation as an active unionist and in January, 1945 became the assistant of Sir Hugh Springer, who was also General Secretary to the Progressive League. In 1945 he became fully employed by the Barbados Worker's Union and spent forty-five years as an employee. Sir Hugh was initially responsible for grievance handling and later became deeply involved in negotiations and any administrative duties which fell under Sir Hugh Springer's portfolio.
Sir Hugh left the union in 1947, in order to accept the position of Registrar of the University College of the University of the West Indies. On 5 November 1947 and for the following year which began on July 25, Sir Frank Walcott was appointed as the Barbados Workers Union's first General Secretary.
A man who 'wore many hats' Sir Frank facilitated the consolidation of the union's internal administration and also negotiated on the behalf of workers.
Sir Frank Walcott brought the union from a junior position into partnership with the Barbados Labour Party. He created and organized an effective accounting system and developed the union into a more militant entity.
Sir Frank became a Member of Parliament from 1945 to 1966 and again in 1971 to 1976, and played a role in the famous Bushe Experiment as a member of the Executive Committee, the precursor to the modern Cabinet from 1948 to 1954. During 1966 to 1971 he served as a Senator and was President of that Chamber from 1986 to 1991. When Barbados gained Independence in 1966 he was appointed the island's first Ambassador to the United Nations.
Sir Frank was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 1954 Queen's Birthday Honours.
In 1987 Walcott was conferred the highest honour in Barbados; he was made a Knight of St. Andrew (KA) of the Order of Barbados.
The Sir Frank Walcott building in St. Michael, Barbados, is named in his honour.
Sir Frank died on 24 February 1999, aged 82.