Saying Goodbye to Clare
Debbie Ransome, Editor, Caribbean Intelligence, writes:
My enduring memory of Clare Forrester is on the night of the closing ceremony of the London Olympics when she came to stay the night.
She had “escaped” from the Olympic Village to come and watch the end ceremony at our house.
Clare wore the Jamaican team track suit given to all the team and its entourage and had not yet taken off her various accreditation badges after leaving the village, the stadium and the media centre that had been her home for the last few weeks.
During a month in which the Jamaican colours had ruled in London, heads turned at the train station and people opened gates for her before she could even use her ticket.
People gazed at her with respect.
Clare did not even notice when I pointed out the buzz she had been causing. She was always a humble person.
And, it was this humble but firm and pragmatic approach that Clare brought to life and to her journalism.
She was never in it for the money but to do the right thing.
We first got to know one another when serving on the Caribbean Association of Media Workers (Camwork), the predecessor to the Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM).
As a young journalist, I gravitated towards Clare and her solid and practical approach to what journalism could (and could not) achieve and do in the world.
Mentor and friend
She moved from being mentor to friend and was always there to back me and the next generation of journalists coming up through Cana, our respective island media and, for some of us, at BBC Caribbean.
That’s what made Clare a natural choice for the Editorial Advisory Board when the venture that was to become Caribbean Intelligence came together.
She made it clear that she was planning retirement with a few guest columns but was very keen to work and bring on another generation of young journalists and on a project which furthered the cause of pan-Caribbean journalism.
It was in that mode that Clare would vet ideas and material from young writers gravitating towards Caribbean Intelligence.
Clare did not mince words in her insistence on our new crop of writers getting it right.
When she received word that she would be able to travel with the Jamaican Olympics team and their officials to London, Clare offered her writing services to Caribbean Intelligence.
From her ringside seat, she wrote almost daily pieces with accompanying photos as the Caribbean medal fest knew no boundaries in August 2012.
You can read some of her items at the end of this article.
To escape the cacophony of the stadium on the final night, Clare accepted our invitation to dinner, the closing show on TV and lots of British end-of-summer partying.
It was typical of Clare that she was up with the birds the following morning, logged in and writing for the Jamaican Observer and emailing home after a major night of feteing.
It was with the same ‘go-getter’ spirit that Clare fought cancer.
After her last birthday in September 2013, she emailed to say that she had requested a lobster meal, they’d cut a cake but that the wine remained “de-listed” because she was scheduled for another chemo session.
Her subsequent emails and bulletins were a mix of faith, humour and that excellent standard of writing she always insisted on.
Despite her own illness, she was there for me by email when my father died in Trinidad earlier this year.
And I think the words she shared with me then about parents, work very much for Clare now: “The one comforting thought is that they lived a full life. Stay blessed”.
RIP Clare. We’ll remember you in the world of pan-Caribbean journalism.
Ricky Singh writes from Barbados:
It’s not a cliché to observe that the passing of Clare Forrester, the Jamaican journalist and social commentator, is a sad loss. It is, indeed, a shared heartfelt experience for all colleagues of our profession across the Caribbean who had the good fortune to work alongside her.
I will continue to cherish fond memories of her from when we were co-workers in the cause of press freedom and social justice: in particular, our efforts to organise and launch the first ever region-wide group of journalists, CAMWORK (Caribbean Association of Media Workers).
Subsequently, we teamed up for the then prevailing annual Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO) Media Awards for Excellence in Health Journalism.
Clare’s commitment to unity among the peoples of the Caribbean region was well blended with a passion for friendship and socialising.
Stories by and about Clare Forrester: