As the Montserrat Cultural Centre (MCC) transitions to new ownership and management by the Government of Montserrat, it is a good time to pay tribute to the unsung heroes of its development, growth and charter as the focal point of togetherness, celebrations and cultural observations on the island.
It will be recalled that the MCC was the brainchild of the late Sir George Martin of Beetles fame. Sir George was conscious of the need to afford the people of Montserrat a place of pride for local gatherings. The development of our MCC was a very bold initiative taken by Sir George in conjunction with the Government of the day in 2003 and with inspired and practical support from our own Sir Howard Fergus. The building started while the Soufriere Hills Volcano was still in its eruptive phase and when abandoning the island was not a budding thought. Sir George Martin – a famous English music producer, composer, songwriter and founder of our famous Air Studious led on the initiative involving the Stars of Air Studios as fundraisers, through to its completion. He was also present when Sir Howard was installed as the centre’s first Chairperson.
Sir Howard Fergus served as the Chairman of the Board of the MCC from its inception in 2006 until its hand over to the Government of Montserrat in 2023. He was one of the two persons who held the shares as owners of the legal entity, the Montserrat Cultural Centre Incorporated. The late Sir Howard Fergus led in the oversight and guidance of operations at the MCC with six other nationals namely : Attorney at Law Mr. Kenneth Allen, Q.C.; Mrs. Sarita Francis; Mr. D. R. V. Edwards; Mr. Levons Watts; Mr. Dwain Lovett and Mr. John E. Whyke.
The development of the Centre was critical to the people of the island who saw the building as a place to bring friends and relatives together for, inter alia, weddings, re-unions, school events and birthday parties. The venue also showcased theatrical, musicals, calypso shows, lecture and government events. The MCC embraced local culture fully and prospered with pride in the development of local talents. This was especially important to the memory of Sir Howard and Sir George given the traumatic experiences with the eruptions of the Soufriere Hills Volcano in Montserrat especially from 1995 to 2003.
The late Sir Howard Fergus is especially memorialized at this juncture for using his experience, knowledge and skill to guide the Committee and the MCC over the years up to this year 2023. He is greatly missed by all especially the staff at the Centre who came to know and respect his kind words and encouragements so lavishly given for the Montserrat Cultural Centre Project.