… Marjorie Kirkpatrick is a Special Person
…”Whatever wrong has been done to you if it won’t matter to you within another 25 years and you can’t remember the details put it aside and live every day as a new life beginning”.
By Jenelle Carter
For those close and not so close to Marjorie Kirkpatrick, they would all agree that she is indeed a woman of sophistication and yet of a humble and meek heart.
It is without a doubt she will be remembered in years to come as one who contributed significantly to community development and the molding of many of the nation’s children.
Born Marjorie Joy Alexander Ting-a-Kee to Victor and Cicely Ting-A-Kee, as a youngster she attended Mrs. Duggins’ Private School and the Bishops’ High School. One year after she finished secondary education, Marjorie started working as a stock clerk at Alexander Chin Limited, from where she moved to the Royal Bank of Canada as a mailing clerk where her spiraling career as a banker started.
At first she was responsible for preparing all correspondence for mailing and soon after, she climbed the professional ladder and was promoted to a Typist, Foreign Exchange Department, responsible for preparing all Foreign and local Bank Drafts remitting deposits to other banks or branches.
Not long after, with her uninhibited enthusiasm, she was promoted to a Teller and from then on, Marjorie’s move to the top of the ladder in the banking industry never stopped until some 23 years later.
Yes, twenty-three years after she left the bank as a Manager responsible for training all tellers on the job at every local branch of the Royal Bank of Canada.
Marjorie left her job at the bank when her mother died in order to take over the catering service her mother used to run. The service was the appointed caterer to the National Assembly.
In 1972 she married Dougal Kirkpatrick, with whom she has three children. Her husband now runs his own security service. Although she loved her previous career, it was at this point in her life she truly found something else apart from banking which she found pleasure in doing.
Kirkpatrick says it was at this point in her life she began enjoying the joys of reaching out to not only her community but several others whom she was privileged to help in ways some would never understand.
Speaking of her love for children, Mrs. Kirkpatrick says she will continue to take children under her care for as long as she has the strength to do so. The children who share their home are those of their employees at Kirkpatrick’s Catering, and she indicates that she is a strong believer in the mother-and-child bond. As a consequence almost all of her staff is encouraged to bring babies to work.
She looks after them while their mothers are working and when the need for feeding and changing arises, the mothers are there to perform their duties.
Kirkpatrick said that she would also look after the children if the parents want to go for a night out or out-of-town for a weekend.
She is particularly cherished by persons from the Meadowbrook/Tucville area who were and in many cases still are, fed by her on a daily basis. She recalls that on some days they feed nearly 130 children. Many of these children, she noted went on to make something of themselves, becoming lawyers, doctors, nurses and various other professionals.
She opined that they were able to do a whole lot more having been in contact with her. Mrs. Kirkpatrick remembers fondly the day when one of the young men she used to feed, turned up at her home with some of the money she had been robbed of while shopping in Bourda Market.
The man had come to the office and said, “Mrs Kirkpatrick, I know you can’t remember me but I am one of the many children that you used to feed. You don’t know how much that meant to me, especially when we were given a cake for good reports and grades.”
The man had apparently seen the person who had choked and robbed her, and since he knew the identity of the thief he had hidden near his house and pounced on him when he came home.
He had been able to recover some of the money which the man had not spent and had taken it back to her, because, he said, she had done so much for him, and if this was one way he could repay her, he was happy to do it.
Kirkpatrick said that on the days when the children would come for lunch, she would show videotapes of cartoons, Sesame Street and other things, and she was amazed that as big as many of them were, they were delighted to see the movies.
Apart from her contribution towards many of the nation’s children, Mrs. Kirkpatrick has also played an integral role in forming the famous Woodside Choir. She is one of the choir’s founding members.
She is also a former member of the BHS Old Girls’ choir and the Royal Bank Singers and still sings soprano in St Saviour’s Church choir.
In addition to her long years of community service, Mrs. Kirkpatrick was also the Superintendent of the Sunday School at church and has been responsible for training many young women in the culinary art. She has even tried her hand at writing, being the author of ‘The Use of Rice Flour, From the Middle Kingdom to the New World’, ‘Rice… Glorious Rice’ and ‘The History of St Saviours’. She over the years has also contributed towards the promotion of Chinese culture locally as she has assisted in the several activities in that regard.
Among some of her contributions, include being a part of the committee, which planned the 25th Anniversary of Chinese arrival to Guyana. She is also among the few Guyanese who are able to effectively research and trace the family tree of Chinese living in Guyana and even those Chinese Nationals who simply visit Guyana in search of their families. To date, she has managed to research twenty-three complete Chinese family trees from the time of their ancestors’ arrival in British Guiana.
Meanwhile, apart from her excellent humanitarian skills and her contribution to society, Mrs. Kirkpatrick is also among six outstanding women who were honoured at the 2002 Woman of Distinction Awards. The other awardees were Gem Mahdoo-Nascimento, Gem Eytle, Enid Denbow, Florence Dalgetty and Yeshwattie Katrayan. The awards were presented to the women during a weeklong conference of Caribbean YWCA at Le Meridien Pegasus.
The YWCA’s Women of Distinction Awards is an 82-year tradition around the world designed to publicly celebrate the achievement of women from all classes, races and ages and whose excellence in their chosen fields is noteworthy.
Speaking of the award, Kirkpatrick said when she found out that she was nominated it was much to her surprise.
She said initially she learnt that her children, both biological and foster, wanted her to be nominated for the Mother of Distinction award, but after they had written down everything she had done in her life, they realized that it would be more appropriate if she were nominated for a Woman of Distinction award.
In the end she was officially nominated by three persons, Amanda Richards; her daughter Melanie Anne Kirkpatrick and Sheila George.
Now at the age of 70 Kirkpatrick said she would continue in the quest to reach out to as many persons as she possible can. She said she would continue to live by her motto which she has lived by for years; “Whatever wrong has been done to you if it won’t matter to you within another 25 years and you can’t remember the details, put it aside and live every day as a new life beginning”.
Mrs. Kirkpatrick said she has lived by this and for her it has helped her forgive those who may have done her wrong, either intentionally or unintentionally.
In the meantime, she plans to continue doing everything possible to make positive changes, and remains actively involved in raising funds for the rehabilitation of the St Saviour’s Anglican Church in Broad Street.
She noted that it is one of her many community projects, which she is committed to, and insists that she will see it to the end. What a special person!
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