There was a celebratory mood at Rowans, St. George, on Tuesday, December 27, 2022, as one of Barbados’ latest centenarians, Mrs. Beryl Bridgeman, enjoyed her birthday, surrounded by family and friends.
As part of the celebrations, Acting President, The Very Reverend Dr. Jeffrey Douglas Gibson, paid a special visit via Zoom, and congratulated Mrs. Bridgeman on reaching this milestone.
When asked by His Excellency what has kept her “so well through the years”, the centenarian replied: “I live in the grace of God. That keep me alive today and I give him thanks and glory for my life.”
She further said: “I worked hard and had a wonderful family; we adore one another; we keep one another alive, and I pray that God will keep us and give us the faith to go through life.” Church continues to be an active part of her life.
In sharing some of her experiences, Mrs. Bridgeman stated: “I was a needle worker. I belonged to the drama group; I had my plays; I went to New York and performed; it was a glorious experience for me as a young person.”
The centenarian also shared that she learnt to do basketry and cake icing, and the first cake she iced was “a cake for Red Plastic Bag…in 1982”.
Mrs. Bridgeman’s nephew, Samuel Skinner, commented that she is a “loyalist to the family, the nucleus of the family, the bond, the glue that holds it all together”.
A friend of the family, Demora Kirton, noted that the centenarian had been very active with the Justice of the Peace Association of Barbados, and thanked her for all she did during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic to “help us stay together”.
One of Mrs. Bridgeman’s granddaughters, Judy Rogers, also remarked: “I have fond memories of my grandmother pertaining to her many talents, especially dressmaking where she single-handedly made all my bridesmaids dresses.…and also made my wedding cake on that day…. I appreciate all that my grandmother has done for me.”
After leaving school, Mrs. Bridgeman took on the role of seamstress until she met her husband (now deceased), Maurice Bridgeman, whom she married in November 1949.
Mrs. Bridgeman saw an opportunity to continue working in the garment industry and did so in 1970, first as a machine operator and then as a supervisor at Koves Garment Factory, Harbour Road, St. Michael, where she worked until retirement in 1982.
The centenarian was quick to point out that in her role of supervisor she worked to ensure the manufacturing processes produced high quality garments, while guiding the decision making process so that they were fair to both the company and the workers.
On behalf of His Excellency, Aide-de-Camp, Lieutenant Jamal Wiggins, gave Mrs. Bridgeman a bottle of wine, a bouquet of flowers and a personalised card after which there was a rousing rendition of the “Happy Birthday” song.
Meanwhile, His Excellency encouraged her family to keep engaging the centenarian as she “has good memories to share”.
Mrs. Bridgeman had 10 children (two deceased), 14 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. Her favourite foods include cou cou and flying fish, chicken soup and ground provisions. (BGIS)