- Teacher of Agriculture at the St. Ann based Claremont All Age School, Kay-Ann Lawson, tells JIS News that Mr. Mullings had a tremendous influence on her educational development, from high school straight to college.
- Her parents were unable to find the money, as one was a small farmer, and the other was unemployed.
- She explains that Mr. Mullings’ generosity and his service as Minister of Agriculture, influenced her to study at the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE).
The work of the late former Deputy Prime Minister, Cabinet member, diplomat and long-serving Member of Parliament for South East St. Ann, Ambassador Seymour ‘Foggy’ Mullings, has come in for special praise from many persons, particularly those who felt his direct impact.
Teacher of Agriculture at the St. Ann based Claremont All Age School, Kay-Ann Lawson, tells JIS News that Mr. Mullings had a tremendous influence on her educational development, from high school straight to college.
She recalls that while she was a student at the Ferncourt High School in the late 1990s, and the time came for the fees for her Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) exams to be paid, little hope was in sight, but for the intervention of Mr. Mullings, her Member of Parliament, who did not know her. This would change her life forever.
Her parents were unable to find the money, as one was a small farmer, and the other was unemployed.
“For the CXC aspect, one day I saw him driving through the community alone in his little blue car, and I approached him, coming from school. He just told me to go to the principal – just as easy as that. I was shocked. I was overwhelmed that approaching an MP would be that easy,” Miss Lawson says.
She explains that Mr. Mullings’ generosity and his service as Minister of Agriculture, influenced her to study at the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE).
“He was a great contributor to society, someone who made a significant impact on young people’s lives, and someone who was always approachable. I wish other Members of Parliament, and other persons in the political arena could be just like him. My first tuition fee (at CASE) was also fully paid by Mr. Mullings, and I always regard this gentleman as one of my heroes, for the contribution he made to youth development in South East St. Ann,” she adds.
Former student at Ferncourt High School, and now Principal at the Brown’s Town Community College, James Walsh, credits Mr. Mullings for the development of the high school, and lauds his role in the development of young people and the educational institutions in his constituency.
“The development of Ferncourt, Mr. Mulings played a major part in supporting and advocating for that. In addition, he always had a particular interest in the schools in his constituency, giving them support, and advocating for upgrading. He made a big contribution. He would call you if there was somebody to be helped, and ask that you do something for them, and indicated what he could do,” Mr. Walsh tells JIS News.
“His primary contribution to education was the tremendous support he provided for the educational institutions within his constituency, which included the Moneague College, which was re-opened in his time as MP, after it wasclosed. He never sought to benefit personally from his public duties, his honesty was intact. He was a humble man, insightful and helpful. He was not someone who made big promises, he was quietly effective,” he adds.
President of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), Senator Norman Grant, says Mr. Mullings’ contribution to public life has enabled farmers, youth and rural folk to enjoy a better quality of life. “As Minister of Agriculture, he contributed in a significant way to the process of reform in the agricultural sector,” he tells JIS News.
Senator Grant notes that at the recent JAS monthly Board meeting, a Resolution was passed saluting his commitment to rural folk, and the farmers. “We described him as a gentle giant in his own way, that has helped transformed the agricultural sector,” he says.
“Last Friday (October 11), in the Senate, we debated an Act to set up a Committee to look at how we manage properties, in particular lands owned by the State. That process was started by Mr. Mullings. He was always at the Denbigh Agricultural Show, supporting the farmers,” Senator Grant adds.
Mayor of St. Ann’s Bay, Councillor Desmond Gilmore, who worked with Mr. Mullings as Special Assistant at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, tells JIS News that he had exemplary managerial qualities, appointed the right people for the job, and gave them space to perform.
He also notes that Mr. Mullings did not enjoy security around him, as he felt that he was working for Jamaica, and did not see himself being harmed by anyone. “He was a leader…he led by example,” Mr. Gilmore says.
“Most times you would find him driving himself. He had a car from he was at the Ministry of Agriculture, and he took it to Foreign Affairs. They felt that it was not in keeping with the image that they would want for a Foreign Affairs Minister, but it was not until it broke down, before he changed the car. That’s the kind of person he was,” the Mayor tells JIS News.
Prior to his passing on October 9, the St. Ann Parish Council passed a Resolution seeking to have the Mount Diablo Road in the parish re-named the Seymour Mullings Boulevard.
“This great Jamaican man, seven-time Member of Parliament for this constituency, really did well, and we want to solute him, and to say to Jamaica, we have lost a true, honest and a faithful servant of the people,” says Councillor for the Moneague Division,Lloyd Garrick.
“He has left legacies for us to live with, and to work with. In his time he would sit and listen to the people, and acted on their recommendations – whether to extend a school, whether to build a new school, as the one in Golden Grove. He also led the campaign for the Beechamville Trade Training Centre in Claremont, the Moneague Housing Scheme, the Lydford Housing Scheme, electrification programme, farm roads, and land for farmers,” he tells JIS News.
Community leader, Garth Stephenson, said Mr. Mullings, although he was “affiliated to a political party, was not partisan in any way.”
“He did what he had to do, because of the needs of the people, without fanfare, and with pride. His legacy will live on for a long time to come. He put in infrastructure to help foster our community relations, and to ensure a good quality of life for the people,” he says.
Mr. Mullings’ contribution to public life spanned some four decades, which saw him serving in the areas of health, as a land surveyor, youth development, foreign affairs, finance, agriculture and a three-year stint as Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States.
He first entered Parliament in 1969, and served until 1983, when his party did not contest the General Elections of that year. He re-entered Parliament in February 1989, and remained a Member until he retired in 2001.
Mr. Mullings headed the Ministries of Health and Social Security; Finance and the Public Service; Agriculture; and Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.
He was born on May 12, 1931, in Cave Valley, St. Ann, and will be given an Official funeral at the St. Matthew’s Anglican Church, in Claremont, on October 24. He will be interred in the church cemetery.