Sir Clement Arrindell from Boyhood to the Pinnacle of Universal Respect

They were united in their show of respect, and bonded by their shared love and admiration for the man whom history will record, as the last Governor and first Governor General of St. Kitts & Nevis.

As thousands of citizens listened on the radio and others watched from the sidewalks in front of the church, the people of St. Kitts & Nevis were engaged in the official church service, organized as part of the State Funeral for 79 year old Sir Clement Athelston Arrindell, GCMG, GCVO, Q.C., who died on Saturday 26th March, 2011, after a period of illness.

The congregation remained attentive as Sir Clement’s boyhood friend and legal colleague, Dr. Joseph S. Archibald chronicled the life and work of the late Governor General. In delivering the eulogy, Dr. Archibald recounted 5 attributes and experiences of Sir Clement, partially he said, with a view to identifying for young citizens of this nation, the disciplined thoughtful steps, which led Sir Clement from his boyhood, to the pinnacle of universal respect, so that they themselves, might be encouraged and inspired in their aim to succeed and excel, in the service of their country and in the wider Caribbean and the world at large.IMG_1750

Dr. Archibald outlined those attributes as Humility, Scholarship, Professional Competence at the bar, Judicial Eminence and Integrity, and Excellence as Governor General.

I have the honour to speak today in praise of the name of Sir Clement Arrindell, as we meet in this sanctuary of his childhood to say farewell. It is now nearly 28 years since Sir Clement Arrindell made the giant step, on 19th September, 1983, from being the last Governor of the Associated State of St. Kitts-Nevis, to become the first Governor General of the sovereign democratic federal state of the new nation of St. Kitts & Nevis,” said Dr. Archibald.

This was not a fugitive moment, said the eulogizer before continuing, “On the attainment of independence, the name of Sir Clement Arrindell became indelibly etched in the history of this nation. The constitution of St. Kitts & Nevis does not describe the qualifications to be Governor General, except that he or she shall be a citizen…so historians down the centuries will no doubt discuss the questions, what attributes or experiences did each Governor General bring to that great office.  How would he or she prepare for the holding or discharging the functions of the great office? No one can accurately predict the national needs for changing times…for what Abraham Lincoln called “the vast future”.

Dr. Archibald engaged the congregation, including the present Governor General, Sir Cuthbert Sebastian, who was a teacher of Sir Clement, as well as the incumbent Prime, Dr. Denzil Douglas, his Deputy, Sam Condor, members of parliament and business leaders. Also paying attention to the words of Dr. Archibald were former Governor, Sir Probyn Inniss, who Arrindell succeeded, and Dr. The Right Honourable Sir Kennedy Simmonds, the First Prime Minister of St. Kitts & Nevis, who appointed Arrindell.

Dr. Archibald invited the audience to ponder on the five preparatory virtues and experiences which Sir Clement Arrindell brought to the office of Head of State.

He said that the humility of Sir clement was passed on from his Nevisian parents, Mr. George Arrindell and Mrs. Hilda Arrindell, who were humble, disciplined, church-going persons, who brought up their 8 children in the fear of God. The young Clement, said Archibald, the 3rd child, first attended a private school and thereafter, the Basseterre Boys School. He enjoyed worship and Sunday School, with his family in this church, (Wesley Methodist). He was a member of the Boys Brigade and he participated in the usual sports of cricket, football and athletics and excelled as wicketkeeper. Within his family he learnt the virtues of self respect for others, outlined Archibald.

Dr. Archibald said that he first met Sir Clement when he (Arrindell) became a student of the Basseterre Boys School, in January of 1943.

“We became close friends and remained so for 68 years. The Basseterre Boys School has proved to be one of the great schools of this nation and of the entire Caribbean. It was from my Third Standard class, at the western part of the school that I first saw Clement, as the smallest and youngest boy, sitting in the front row of the 7th Standard. He was often raising his hand to demonstrate that he knew the answers to the questions from Mr. Beach, (the headmaster and class teacher). I admired young Clement greatly…and in our talks I learnt from him, the word scholarship. He said he wanted to win a scholarship to attend the St. Kitts- Nevis Grammar School, and in due course he did so in competition against the best students under the age of 13 years, throughout St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla. At the Grammar School, Clement excelled as a Latin Scholar and a wizard in the works of Shakespeare. He was very proud of the school’s Latin motto Principia non Homines that is to say, Principles Not Men.”

In due course, Sir Clement achieved the highest certificate then attainable at the Grammar School, the 5th Form Senior Cambridge University School Certificate, in 1949 and entered the civil service of St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla as a junior clerk. But he did not stop and by family help and personal thrift over several years, he was enabled in about 1956 to sail across the Atlantic to become a student at England’s oldest law school, Lincolns Inn which had been established since the year 1344.

“Clement worked and studied in London and was called to the bar of Lincolns Inn as a barrister in 1958. On the occasion to celebrate his call to the bar, Clement expressed his philosophy in a Latin Proverb, “Nil Satis Nisi Optimum”, “Nothing but the Best is good Enough.”

When Clement Arrindell entered into private practice as a barrister and solicitor on his own, in St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla, in 1958, his legal world was dominated by three outstanding legal luminaries in St. Kitts, all now of blessed memory, namely Geoffrey Boone, who later became Sir Geoffrey Boone QC, Maurice H Davis, who later became Sir Maurice H Davis QC, Chief Justice of the West Indies Associated States Supreme Court and Frederick E Kelsick, who later became Frederick E Kelsick QC. Nevertheless, young Clement Arrindell, by sheer   brilliance in legal research and persuasive advocacy at the bar, became a force to be reckoned with in all the magistrate courts in St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla, and in the Supreme Court, in round legal work.

With his considerable experience at the bar, the magistracy was upgraded when Clement Arrindell left his flourishing private practice in 1964 to become the magistrate in Basseterre, with additional jurisdiction in all the magistrate courts in the State.

For over a decade, he demonstrated as a magistrate, that he was a person of deep learning, judicial independence, personal integrity fairness and courage. His services on the magisterial bench contributed to public peace and order, said Archibald.

In 1978 he was accorded the then rare distinction of being elevated directly from the magisterial bench to the High Court bench as a judge of the West Indies Associated Supreme Court. Many leading Caribbean jurists have praised the work of Sir Clement as a judge

His status as Governor of the Associated State of St Kitts and Nevis elevated him to the rank of Knighthood and by virtue of merit he was accorded the rank of QC, as one of Her Majesty’s Councils learned in the law. Destiny blessed Sir Clement with the opportunity of a test run as governor, in final preparation for his excellent role as Governor General, stated Dr. Archibald.

At the conclusion of the service, the body of Sir Clement was taken to its final resting place at Springfield Cemetery, with scores of citizens, lining the route of Seaton Street, Victoria Road and then onto Cayon Street.

Sir Clement was married to the late Lady Evelyn Arrindell.


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