You may ask yourself ‘what is unique about Antigua and Barbuda?’ The answer is the easy-going, English-speaking people who are some of the friendliest you will find, who have a reputation for humour, hospitality, and a no-problem attitude.
The destination is also home to some of the most talented, creative, innovative, and forward-thinking Antiguans and Barbudans. In the various fields of sports, music and entertainment, politics, and education to name a few, these outstanding persons have made significant contributions to the nation and have risen and continue to raise the profile of Antigua and Barbuda.
Sir Anderson Montgomery Everton “Andy” Roberts
Born in Urlings Village, Roberts was the first player born in Antigua to represent West Indies at cricket. Renowned for his formidable bowling style, Roberts quickly introduced himself on the world stage of cricket, with a style that was designed to lull batsmen into a false sense of security then devastate them with his accurate, pacey delivery.
A fast bowler, Roberts twice took a 7-wicket haul in test matches during his illustrious career. He paved the way for fellow Antiguans such as Richie Richardson, Curtly Ambrose and Sir Viv Richards to integrate into the West Indies side and he was part of one of the all-time great bowling attacks which helped secure the first two Cricket World cups in 1975 and ’79.
Since his retirement from the game, Roberts has helped with the administrative side of the game in Antigua namely helping develop the standard of pitches into the international quality they bestow today.
Sir Curtly Elconn Lynwall Ambrose
Standing at 6’7″, the imposing figure of Curtly Ambrose made him one of the most recognized and feared fast-paced bowlers of his generation. Ambrose grew up with a love of basketball, which given his height is understandable, and so didn’t get started with cricket until a relatively late age. It is a good job he did choose to swap the court for the crease, however, as he debuted for the West Indies in 1988 and by 1992 was chosen as one of the Windies Cricketers of the year.
Ambrose enjoyed a brief spell playing for Northamptonshire, where he maintained impressive performances; including taking a wicket with the first ball he ever bowled for the club! A prolific career saw him take over 400 international wickets in just 98 Tests, with figures like this it is little wonder he was consistently top of the ICC rankings as the world’s best bowler.
Sir Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards
Regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, Sir Viv was a dominant batsman for the West Indies during his glittering 17-year international career. Richards made his test debut in 1974, against India in Bangalore and never looked back! Richards’ international career went from strength to strength, scoring an incredible 8,540 runs in 121 Tests, he also captained the side to an impressive 27 Test victories from 50 Tests.
Revered by the world’s greatest players Richards was also regarded as probably the finest ODI batsman of all time, which only highlights his adaptability and class in the game. Fortunately, he brought his aggressive yet majestic batting style to England and played county cricket for Somerset and briefly for Glamorgan. Richards lists one of his finest achievements in the game as winning the inaugural Cricket World cup in 1975, interestingly he also made the fastest Test century of all time, off just 56 balls, against England right here in Antigua during the 1986 tour. He is aptly nicknamed the ‘Master Blaster.’
In 2006, Sir Viv became a National Hero when he received Antigua and Barbuda’s highest award, Knight of the Order of the National Hero (KNH). Before that, in 1994, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to cricket. Also, in 1999, he was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Nation (KCN) of Antigua and Barbuda. The Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua, is named in his honour. It was built for use in the 2007 Cricket World Cup.
Sir Richard Benjamin Richardson
The energetic Richie Richardson was another flamboyant batter (and bowler) who played for the West Indies; in fact, he controversially succeeded Richards in the captaincy in 1991. Richardson was known for his exuberant style and refused to wear a helmet at the crease, instead opting for that iconic wide-brimmed maroon hat. Richardson made his test debut for the Windies back in 1983 and played for 12 glorious years.
Once he rested his bat from the international scene, Richardson went to ply his trade in England and in 2009, signed for Thames Ditton Cricket Club. Away from cricket, Richardson enjoys playing the bass guitar and has released several albums with his spirited band, which includes former teammate Curtly Ambrose.
The Right Honourable Doctor Vere Cornwall Bird Sr. -b. 9 December 1910 -d. 28 June 1999
He is considered the ‘Father of the Nation’ and is commonly known as ‘Papa Bird.’ V.C. Bird was Antigua’s first Prime Minister from 1981-1994. While he lacked formal secondary and tertiary education, his work experience in both the Salvation Army and the Antigua Trades and Labour Union sparked his interests in unionism and politics. He gave up his post at the Salvation Army to fight for the freedom of his people, which he succeeded in doing. He was elected to the colonial legislature in 1945 and became the founding member of the Antigua Labour Party. His drive, conviction, and passion for Antigua propelled him to assist in the independence process for Antigua in 1981. If not for his passion, Antigua would not be entering its 40th year of Independence. In 1985, Antigua’s airport was renamed the V.C. Bird International Airport in his honour and in 1994, he was declared a national hero.
Dame Georgiana 'Nellie' Robinson
Born Georgiana Ellen Robinson, she is Antigua’s lone female national hero and mainly known for her work in breaking down colour and class barriers. She believed that all children should have access to learning and is most notably known for being a teacher and founder of the T.O.R. Memorial School. She founded the school at the age of 18 and named it The Thomas Oliver Robinson Memorial School (T.O.R). in honour of her brother, who had inspired her, but sadly died a year before its completion. After the completion of her schooling, Ms. Robinson sought to improve the educational opportunities that were greatly lacking for black students. Additionally, she afforded local disadvantaged children a chance at secondary education, which was not available to them at the time.
Dame Robinson was the headmistress of the T.O.R Memorial School from 1898 – 1950, with a strong hand and firm conviction. The T.O.R Memorial School was made for children of all races, classes, and faiths—her doors were open to anyone desiring to improve their education and life. All of which went against the ‘normal’ way of things at the time. In 1999, a panel organized by the Professional Organization of Women in Antigua (POWA) reviewing outstanding contributions from women in Antigua and Barbuda, named Robinson as the Outstanding Woman of the Century. She was posthumously awarded the honour of Dame Companion of The Most Exalted Order of National Hero (DNH), for services to education by the Government of Antigua and Barbuda on November 1, 2006.
Sir George Herbert Walter
Sir George Walter was the second premier of Antigua & Barbuda in his short tenure from 1972-1976. Sir George is most notable for managing to pass the Social Security and Labour Acts, which were adopted by many Caribbean islands. He established the Antigua Workers Union in 1967 and later, as a way of break away from the Antigua Labour Party-affiliated Antigua Trades and Labour Union, which emerged from the Antigua Workers Union, co-founded the Progressive Labour Movement in 1968. He was made a Knight of the Order of the National Hero in 2008 and became Antigua’s fifth national hero.
King Court Tackey "Prince Klass" - born c1694 - d. 4 March 2008
Prince Klaas also known as King Court Tackey, conspired with several other slaves to execute a rebellion in which all of the English officials and planters and their wives were to be killed and the island of Antigua made an independent African nation ruled by African leaders. Had this rebellion occurred, it would have made Antigua the first African-ruled independent nation outside Africa and before Haiti which gained its freedom in 1804. Over an eight-year period, the plan was formulated in 1728 but was leaked to plantation owners by an anonymous slave.
Prince Klass and 87 valued slaves who held important positions on over 70 plantations across the island, were horribly tortured and executed by being torn to pieces on the wheel, hung by the neck and when that proved too quick, were burnt slowly at the stake. Prince Klaas, the leader and the first to be executed was torn on the wheel on Market Street. This gruesome historic event in the lives of the slave society carried on until Christmas of 1736 when a respite was taken, and killings began again on January 1, 1737 until March 8th of that year. The entire population, black, white and mulatto and all the sugar plantations on the island were thrown into disarray. Fear gripped everyone; the economy plummeted and lives on the plantations and Antigua were changed forever. Every October 22, the people of Antigua and Barbuda celebrate the execution of Prince Klaas. In St Johns, a monument of Prince Klaas/King Court stands in the town and was built by Sir Reginald Samuel.
Sir Lester Bryant Bird
Sir Lester Bird is a former Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda and ran from 1994 – 2004. He was also the Chairman of the Antigua Labour Party from 1971 – 1983. In 1982, he was the first chairman of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and then later served for a second term in 1989. Though American-born, Sir Lester was raised in Antigua and Barbuda as a Methodist, where he received up to his secondary education at the Antigua Grammar School and later went on to the University of Michigan. During his youth, he was a member of the Leeward Islands Cricket Team and a long jump champion, receiving a bronze medal in the long jump at the 1959 Pan-American Games in Chicago. He was made a Knight of the Order of the National Hero in 2014 and published his autobiography ‘The Comeback Kid’ in 2019.