Benjamin gets emotional farewellPOSTED: 02/25/11 12:55 PM
MARIGOT / By Milton Pieters – Jean Benjamin may be considered “just an avid sportsman with a passion for almost anything that can reach maximum speeds”, but the attendance at his funeral matched that of a statesman who had made a significant contribution to the society in which he lived. The 39 year old Benjamin died tragically last week.
To commemorate his passion scores riders and drivers got on their motorbikes, racing bicycles, ATV’s and into their cars to escort Benjamin’s remains from the Royal Funeral Home in Sucker Garden to the Omni Sports Hall in Galisbay. The smell of cordite, the revving of engines and the blaring of horns was enough for people in offices, stores and houses along the route to step outside and capture a glimpse of the motorcade. For some it was as if time stood still for a moment.
A group of racing cyclists formed a saluting line at the entrance of the auditorium and to show their respect for a fallen sportsman. They all removed the front wheel of their bikes and raised them as the casket was taken into the building.
Scores of people filed past the open casket and offered their condolences to the family. The list includes President of the Collectivity Frantz Gumbs, Deputy Prime Minister Theodore Heyliger, Member of Parliament Frans Richardson, former Island Council Member Rodolphe Samuel and President of the Democratic Party Michael Ferrier.
The Amateur Cycling Association and the Cool Riders Cycling Club from Anguilla Cycling Club were among the first to pay glowing tribute to Benjamin in the form of a poem and a song. They also hailed Benjamin for being instrumental in the running of a Motorbike Ride which took place last November.
“I know he was very popular and loved by friends and on behalf of the Collectivity, our condolences. But it is necessary for us to become conscious of the fact that every circumstance gives us an opportunity to learn lessons because this can happen again,” Gumbs said.
Emotions flowed after Gumbs’ short speech, especially when it was time to close the casket. His father Leonard Benjamin, one of his sisters and long time companion Shundel Bobb had to be consoled along with a few who could not be identified. His sons Jamie Gumbs and Angelo Arrindell tried to be strong and his daughter Anahisa Heneson seemed oblivious to what was going on – the loss of her father having still had not registered in her young mind.
Benjamin, the racing cyclists, drag racing motorcyclists and mechanic, is gone, but from what transpired yesterday, he will not be forgotten.