There’s something about high tea on the elegantly manicured Government House lawn that makes an ordinary Saturday afternoon feel special. There’s the beautiful garden setting; the atmospheric music courtesy Le Chateau d’Or; dance of the liturgical kind à la Passion de Christ Methodist Youth Dancers; poetry written specifically for the occasion by Alaina Mussington; and an Easter Hat Parade fashioned by founding partner Pink Mongoose. The hats especially are what add to the event’s allure as it seems to challenge the ladies-who-tea to, as one put it, “dress for the occasion”. The pre-Easter activity, held this year on March 19th under the theme ‘Connect with Friends’, has been a staple of the Girl Guides Association of Antigua and Barbuda [GGAAB]’s fundraising calendar since 2002, and it continues to grow, which is good as the money raised – EC$20,000 targeted with 200 tickets sold – will fund this girls’ leadership training organization all year round.
It is an opportunity to woo and win adults to volunteerism. As such, recruitment cards inviting interested individuals to email firstname.lastname@example.org were being circulated. “It is an opportunity,” said Jennifer Maynard, GGAAB Vice President, “to promote the adult image of the organization.” Speaking not exclusively of the uniformed body but the Council which functions as the Board of Guiding, she said they need to build the adult membership so that they can not only have women to lead the girls but to improve the functionality of the organization, bringing different skill-sets – management, fund development, event organizing, and more – in to play.
The event also serves as a training exercise within which badges can be earned by some of the 600+ girls making up the GGAAB – “they’re doing a fine job”, said one attendee of their service on this occasion. This aspect: the training of girls, allowing them to fully explore their potential, remains extremely important to the Antigua and Barbuda arm of the world body. “The space to be girls, the space to not always be what you are in context of a male,” remains very relevant Maynard said.
The venue has been Government House since Lady (Emma) Carlisle first floated the idea of high tea. Today, Lady (Sandra) Williams, wife of the current Governor General, embraces her role as patron of the GGAAB and the opportunity to help young girls learn different skills and values. It’s, also, another opportunity, as she sees it, to open up Government House to the community – and it’s worth noting that Tea Party attendees were encouraged to view the latest in a series of art exhibitions being showcased there. “Art and culture go hand in hand,” said Lady Williams. “We don’t want to see it die.” So, though not a hat person herself, she certainly appreciates the designs as artistic expression.
Let’s talk about these art pieces! Every lady seated there is well aware of the ‘secret’ judging and rises to the occasion. “A woman’s hat tells her personality,” said Lisa Francis. She wore the Largest Hat with Coordinated Ensemble, named among the top three of a dozen prizes along with Most Original (Deena Martin) and Most Original with Coordinated Ensemble (Margaret Gouveia) – hats which included, respectively, Easter egg replicas and crocheted tea cups.
Finally, though it’s a lady’s day in many ways, the men get in on the action too. “I feel out of the way to see that I’m here,” said Sinclair Henry, the Best Coordinated Male.
The GGAAB would not be able to pull off this elaborate affair without the generosity of Abbott’s Jewelry and Perfumery, ACB Mortgage & Trust, Admiral’s Inn, Antigua Jewellers, Antigua Home & Garden Discount Centre, the Antigua and Barbuda Defense Force, A. S. Bryden & Sons, Bailey’s Countryside, Miss MaudVere Bradford, City Nursery, Flowers, Billy’s Food Mart, Bits ‘n Pieces, Caribbean Union Bank, Carlisle Bay Resort, Charlie’s Service Station, Christo’s Supermarket, CIBC/First Caribbean, Colombian Emeralds, Copper and Lumber Store Hotel, Cortsland Hotel, Curtain Bluff Hotel, Daily Fresh, Digicel, Ebenezer Methodist Church, El Taco Loco, Epicurean Fine Foods, Exotic Antigua, Flo’s Perfume Plus, Frank B. Armstrong, Goddard’s Catering Group, the Hospitality Training Institute, Intimate Touch, Island Provisions, Jason Brodie, Joe Mike’s Hotel and Plaza, Jolly Beach Resort, Le Bistro, LIAT 1974 Ltd., LS Catering, Mrs. Blondell Micheal, Mingles Unisex Salon, the Ministry of Tourism, Occasions Party Rentals, O’Mardes Depot, Party Paradise, Percival’s Service Station, Roti King, Sandals Antigua, Scotia Bank, Spring Gardens Moravian Church, St. James Club/Verandah Hotel, Townhouse Megastore, and other Friends of Guiding; with special acknowledgment to Eustace James who, with Sharon Herbert, judged the hat competition.
The organization expresses gratitude to all who contributed to the success of its high tea and its ongoing mission to mentor young girls.
Remember to #connect10million.
credits: Antigua Chronicle