National Heroes: Sir Frank Leslie Walcott

Frank by name, frank by nature… And we’re not even trying to be funny because if ever there was a sentence that captured Frank Walcott, this was it. Originally from St Peter, he grew up in Bridgetown because his policeman-father died when Frank was still young. He was a renowned mathematician with a huge personality that had a natural ability to bring people together on decisions and issues. This is how his role in debating clubs became so active and prominent and led to the day that Hugh Springer saw the raw talent and invited young Walcott to join the Progressive League.

In very early days he was very naturally elected as the General Secretary of the Barbados Workers Union where he remained an employee for 45 years. Over his first six years he worked to create an effective accounting system that worked to the tune of any independent auditors and took the union to real heights with his intellect and charisma. It became one of the strongest labour unions in the Caribbean and held real negotiating power for the first time.

He became a Member of Parliament from 1945 to 1966 and again in 1971 to 1976. During 1966 to 1971 he served as a Senator and was President of that Chamber from 1986 to 1991 and when Barbados gained Independence in 1966 he was appointed the island’s first Ambassador to the United Nations. When we wanted to show the world what we were made of, Sir Frank Walcott was our man. Parliament’s museum has a unique piece dedicated to Sir Walcott with the hands of Barbados holding the world.

Throughout Sir Walcott’s tenure at the BWU, civil stability, negotiation and non-violent protest  reigned. His leadership allowed the BWU to concentrate on improving the skills, training and education of workers whilst developing affordable housing and scholarships.

Barbados Parliament Museum, Bridgetown
Contact: +1(246)310-5400
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