Lord High Admiral (LHA) Vernon Nathaniel Watson OBE JP was born on Wednesday, December 2, 1931, in Highland, St. Thomas and died on Saturday, January 9, 2021 at 11:30am at his residence on Mansion Road, Bank Hall, St Michael. He was 89 years old. Watson led the Barbados Landship Association, our indigenous cultural and social organisation, described by Elombe Mottley as “a crucible of African dance retention” from the 1970s.
A keen follower of the Barbados Landship as a young child, Watson became actively involved in 1972 when he appealed to his father, late Lord High Admiral Joseph Nathaniel Watson, to form a Landship to engage the youths in his district. This led to the re-establishing of the Director I, in Highland, St. Thomas with him as Captain. In March 24, 1972, Watson was sworn in as an official member of the Barbados Landship Association, established 40 years earlier.
As a captain in the Landship community since LHA Leon Marshall’s death in 1973, Watson took on the ongoing mission of bringing all the landships under the umbrella body that would meet at the dock of the Director and Ironduke at Licorish Village, My Lords Hill, St. Michael. Existing Landships included the Rodney, Cornwall, Queen Mary II, the Vanguard, the Queen Victoria in St Peter, the Director II in Carrington Village, St Michael and the Indefatigable in Back Ivy, St Michael among others. Watson’s efforts to keep the ships and members together were met with varying degrees of success.
As the Landship’s icon, Watson set some daring initiatives to preserve its identity in the “rough seas” of our post-independent times. These included: lowering of membership age from 30 to 21 to 18 years of age, introducing junior membership of Blue Jackets (boys) and Stars (girls) from age 7, and the formation of the BLS Barbados Landship for national display. Under his command, the configuration of landship-on-parade changed from all-adult male to almost completely female.
In 1998, Watson was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) by the Queen. In 2008, Watson was promoted to Lord High Admiral when the Barbados Landship celebrated 145 years from the date of its official establishment. He has been a Justice of the Peace since 2016.
LHA Watson leaves to mourn his widow Mrs. Cynthia Watson, relatives, and friends. May the road rise to meet him as he journeys on. Walk good, Lord High Admiral.
Written by Ashanti Trotman, PRO
Advisory Committee, BLA