Black Immigrant Daily News
Tributes continue to pour in from the leadership of the country and members of the public following the passing of one of the country’s eminent ceremonial and protocol expert, Colonel Merrick Needham.
The 89-year-old who was ailing for some time, reportedly died in hospital on Thursday.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness, in leading the tributes, described Needham as “a passionate Jamaican nationalist”, and said his death was a “tremendous loss” to the country.
“Colonel Needham was exceptionally knowledgeable, providing expert leadership and direction at innumerable national events over decades,” said Holness in his tribute on Facebook.
“His deft application of knowledge, including to the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), earned him a historic honorary commission,” he continued.
Needham was the first Jamaican to receive an honorary commission from the JDF to the rank of Colonel (Hons) in 2018, for his invaluable service to the military.
Prior to that, Needham was a member of the Order of Distinction (Commander Class), a member of the Royal Victorian Order, and a member of the Order of St John.
According to Holness, Needham’s expertise, guidance and council will be severely missed.
“I benefited personally from his advice which he gave freely, honestly, objectively and sincerely.
“His commitment to Jamaica was particularly evident, as he demonstrated it in all areas of his life and vocation,” said Holness as he offered condolences to Needham’s family.
“We have lost an extensive human library of resources and a man who was truly good, through and through,” he added.
Governor-General, Sir Patrick Allen, said he was both “surprised and saddened” on hearing of Needham’s passing.
A statement from King’s House said Needham who was “highly respected and knowledgeable on matters of protocol,” provided invaluable advice to successive governors-general.
“Col Needham, who was a Member of the Royal Victorian Order, also received The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2018, for his contribution to all six of Queen Elizabeth’s visits to Jamaica,” King’s House said.
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett, who expressed condolences to Needham’s family on behalf of the ministry and its public bodies, referred to the late protocol expert as an “icon” and a “true patriot”.
Added Bartlett: “As a broadcaster, communicator par excellence, curator of protocols and an international diplomat, Merrick always showed class, decorum and efficiency in all his undertakings.
“I recall requesting his return to head the Jamaica 21 Secretariat when I was Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office and headed the planning and execution of the myriad of events and activities which constituted the celebrations,” he recalled.
Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports, Olivia Grange, said Jamaica will be worse off for the passing of Merrick Needham.
“Over time, it has been Merrick Needham to whom we turned for advice on protocol and logistics for the big ceremonial events. He has also trained many in these areas.
“But we also remember Merrick for his booming voice and command on radio, where he worked as a broadcaster and as a general manager,” said Grange.
Some media professionals joined in the tributes to Needham.
Communication consultant Jean Lowrie Chin, sharing a photograph of Needham with his wife Camille, said: “Rest in Peace dear friend and mentor.
“You served Jamaica with all your heart,” she posted on Facebook.
Another media veteran, Pat Lazarus, said Needham was also her friend and former general manager at Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation (JBC).
“… He was knowledgeable in so many other areas, and I enjoyed our conversations whenever we met at Skal Club long after the JBC days,” she said on Facebook.
Press Secretary at the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), Naomi Francis, said Needham was a master of his craft who was “detailed and artful in his executions”.
She added that he was “brilliant at protocol matters and one of the strongest, most iconic voices in media and advertising.”
Tracey Hamilton, another individual who benefited from Needham’s tutelage, said she was honoured to have benefited from his knowledge.
“I was honoured to have been schooled in protocol and etiquette by Mr Merrick Needham.
“He was always a reference point for information… Rest well sir… A lost… As the new generation standards in this field are well below par,” she wrote on Facebook.