Obituary and Thanksgiving: CELIA BROOKS LEAVES STERLING LEGACY FOR YOUNG PEOPLE
People from all walks of life paid their last respects to one of Anguilla’s most dedicated youth leaders – the late Mrs. Celia Miranda Brooks –at a Thanksgiving Service at Bethel Methodist Church on Saturday, November 3. She has left a sterling legacy for many of the island’s youth, as well as grown-ups, whom she led and served with, and set an enduring example of community participation and spiritual living.
“Sister Celia”, as Mrs. Brooks was popularly called, died on October 25, in Puerto Rico after a short illness. She was widely-known for her excellent leadership of the Girls’ Brigade both in church and community life, including the Annual Anguilla Day Parade at the Ronald Webster Park. She is also remembered for her service as a Local Preacher.
Glowing tribute was paid to her in words and song by members of the Girls’ Brigade, Local Preachers, her Family, Bethel Senior Choir and Claudius Gumbs. Methodist Superintendent Minister, Reverend Dunstan Richardson, Reverend Rosemary Julius, Reverend Erica Carty as well as Reverend Cecil Weekes (who delivered the sermon), spoke highly of her spiritual life and service to the church and community. A large group of Girl Brigade members from St. Martin/Maarten was among the mourners.
The Formal Remembrance was delivered by Rev. Lindsay Richardson who, over the years, worked with her. “For Celia, family came first,” he told the capacity congregation inside the church and outside under the tent. “She devoted her time and energy into loving and supporting her husband in his business endeavours, and raising her children. She made sure they received good Christian upbringing and academic education. She adored her husband and children and the extended family. It was Celia that they looked up to, and relied on her kindness, sincerity and general belief that everyone is good and means well…”
He continued: “She worked at Radio Anguilla for ten years and was then promoted to Senior Clerical Officer in the Ministry of Health. She worked in this Ministry until June 1994 when she was seconded … to the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) as the Health Information System Instructor. On August 7, 1998, Celia was awarded an Associate Degree in Applied Science from the Barbados Community College.
“In October, 1988, she was appointed to the post of Health Information Coordinator, a post she held until 2004 when the Health Authority of Anguilla was instituted. She continued in that post after the transfer and held it until the time of her passing. On numerous occasions, commencing March 15, 2002, she acted as Health Services Administrator at the Princess Alexandra Hospital…
“In her years, serving at the hospital, Celia established an excellent working relationship with her colleagues. She was dependable, confidential and professional and always had a way of finding solutions to the many problems that her co-workers and their departments were facing. As a result, a wide cross-section of the hospital staff went to her office seeking advice for personal or job-related matters.
“Celia was an excellent team player, always willing to take on any role or responsibility which resulted in her being instrumental to the Health Authority and Ministry of Health achieving their strategic goals and objectives. Her analytical skills, professionalism and work ethics were evident in the quarterly and annual reports she compiled for the Health Authority, Ministry of Health and, on occasions, the regional organisations of PAHO and CAREC. Celia was disciplined and always strived for excellence. This could be seen in her decorum, attire and the quality of work she produced.”
She had a passion for the performing arts which resulted in her re-establishing the Princess Alexandra Community Choir. Her work was particularly seen in the Girls’ Brigade in which she exposed the members to drama and singing and encouraged them to have respect for God and country. She worked her way from a member of the First Anguilla Girls’ Guide Brigade Company through the ranks of Officer, Training Officer and President of the Island Council.
“When she was approached to become a Girls’ Brigade Officer, and to lead the company at Ebenezer, she worked with a passion to help many girls fulfil their motto ‘To Seek, Serve and Follow Christ,’ Reverend Richardson stated. “With her organisation skills, she was able to influence officers, parents and girls alike to work hard in this noble organisation. At one point, the membership of the Second Anguilla Company stood at 65 girls. She trained the older girls to become officers and warrant officers, and raised funds to send them overseas to Girls Brigade Training Camps.”
Though very busy, she also served as a Local Preacher along with others of the six Methodist Churches in Anguilla.
Celia was described as “an ambitious and conscientious individual who, despite her gentle, calm, quiet and soft demeanour, had a very determined, dedicated and resilient personality.”
In concluding the Formal Remembrance, Reverend Richardson stated in part: “Celia’s illness was sudden, violent and short, and her passing has taken us by surprise. We take comfort in the fact that her life was full, rich and free. In her fifty-three years she has touched many lives, and her life will be a legacy for many to follow.”
Sister Celia is survived by her husband, Oliver Brooks, four children – Monifa, Incia Jr., Travis and Sincia – as well as many members of her extended family to whom The Anguillian offers its condolences.