Senator Kerry-Ann F. Ifill was born December 20th 1973. She lost her sight at the tender age of four but this only served to boost her drive and ambition. Kerry-Ann started school for the blind at age 6 but went on to join the mainstream schools from eleven years old. She was the first blind student to attend the prestigious Combermere School, overcoming many physical challenges while she was there.

Kerry-Ann was the first blind person to graduate from the University of the West Indies, earning herself a degree in Sociology and Psychology with Second Class Honours. She went on to obtain an MBA at Durham Business School, in England.

In 2008, Barbadian Prime Minister David Thompson appointed her to the Senate, then to the position of Deputy President of the Senate. On 14 March 2012, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart announced her appointment as President of the Senate. There she continued her trend at being first, as she was the first woman to hold that position, the first person with a disability, as well as the youngest ever, at the age of 38 to hold that position.

Of her appointment to the Senate, and the effect on the community of persons with disabilities, Senator Kerry-Ann says, “I think my appointment has opened up a whole new line of thinking that life is not as insurmountable as it may seem; that strides can be made and people should feel inspired to press on with their goals”.

While still in her role as Deputy President, Senator Kerry-Ann Ifill was asked to fill in for the then President and address the joint sitting of the Houses of Parliament on the official visit of the Earl and Countess of Wessex to Barbados. So flawlessly presented was this address, that it was the talk of the town, making the hearts of all Barbadians proud.

One editorial noted that Senator Ifill, “…is a young black woman whose remarkable accomplishments to date have been achieved despite the challenge of being blind. She is clearly a person of sharp intelligence and must be a clear role model for all those people who are disabled or challenged by disabilities of one sort or other.”

Senator Ifill is also President of the Barbados Council for the Disabled using that office along with her determination and dedication to excellence, to promote issues such as the Ratification of the Convention of the Rights for Persons with Disabilities; employment opportunities for the disabled; and fully accessible public spaces for persons with mobility challenges.

Along with her political role, Senator Kerry-Ann also wears the hat of Sunday School Superintendent at the Church of the Resurrection where her love of children manifests itself in her love of teaching them about God. She herself was a regular Sunday School student at St. Michael’s Cathedral, Bridgetown and even after she lost her sight, continued performing admirably at Sunday School plays and recitals.

Senator Kerry-Ann Ifill maintains a pragmatic approach to life with a disability stating, “I look at life this way – you do what you are supposed to do and you do it the best way you can. If you happen to be blind, well, just find a way to do it. With being blind, I do not waste time complaining over my being blind… Blindness is a part of me.” She further offers advice to young people who find themselves in similar positions of trying to achieve their dreams while overcoming the obstacle of disability, “It is perfectly natural to grieve. If you lose something or a loved one you grieve, that is the first step, but don’t wallow in grief. Look at the things you still can do. Just because you lost a limb, for instance, it doesn’t mean you can’t feed yourself anymore. It may be painful at first, [but] you can go back to driving if you have to. It is easier for people to help you, if they know you can help yourself. If you become so dependent, you are going to be unpleasant to be around.”

Variety Tent 73 is honored to hold her up as a role model for children with disabilities and to present her for the Presidential Citation Award 2014 at the Variety International World Conference held in Barbados in 2014.



Dame Olga Lopes-Seale, DA, GCM, MBE, BSS (26 December 1918 – 4 February 2011) was a Guyanese-born, Barbados-based social and community worker, radio broadcaster and singer.

She came from humble beginnings, born to Portuguese indentured field labourer parents, and was the last of nine children, six of whom died prior to Olga’s birth. From an early age, Olga acquired a habit which would serve her in good stead throughout her life, and which she recommended to children wherever she went – reading books.

Her work on behalf of children began in the public realm in 1952 when she heard of five boys who were unable to attend a Christmas concert because they didn’t have clothes to wear to it. As she put it, “I aired an appeal for garments, and received more clothes than I had needy kids. So I aired an appeal for needy children to come forward, and then had more children than clothes.” This evolved into a charity, the “Radio Demerara Needy Children’s Fund” where she helped over 1,500 poor children in Guyana using broadcast appeals.

Her charity work continued when she moved to Barbados in the early 1960s. On the island, she became known for her Saturday morning children’s radio programme where many a talent was born and cultivated. “Aunty Olga”, as she was known, resumed the Needy Children’s Fund to help children in Barbados with back to school clothes, shoes, school bags and stationery. This programme is now continued by Variety Barbados Tent 73. Aunty Olga’s aim was to give as many children as possible access to education through providing them with everything they needed from books to full tummies, but additionally, she wanted children to feel special and important as individuals. To this end, the Fund hosted an annual Christmas party where every child in attendance received a gift suitable for his or her age and sex. Aunty Olga took particular delight in seeing children happy for Christmas.

The Fund eventually developed to encompass serving not only children born into poverty, but also children with mental and physical disabilities. It raised money for expensive medical operations and equipment that would help children lead more normal lives.

Aunty Olga also extended her love for charitable work to senior citizens by visiting them in their homes and supplying spectacles, wheelchairs clothing and gifts. She also raised large sums for the Soroptomists Senior Citizen’s Village and for her Cents for Sight programme for seniors.

She was awarded Dame of St. Andrew, for extraordinary and outstanding achievement and merit in service to Barbados and humanity at large. Her honours are deservedly numerous – she was made a Member of the British Empire in1961, has a Silver Crown of Merit and a Gold Crown of Merit, is a Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary South and in 1997 she was admitted to the Caribbean Broadcasting Hall of Fame – the only woman ever!

Dame Olga was a member of Variety Tent 73 and attended her last annual general meeting just a few months before she died. She is quoted as saying in an interview during her latter years about her continued charitable work, “I’m still keeping busy. I’m still involved with programmes for needy people. Why do I keep doing it? And at my age? As in the past, I don’t know that I could ever see that there is a need and not try, in word or deed, to do something about it. You just can’t turn away from it.” In her usual concern for others, she bequeathed to Tent 73 the funds from her Needy Children Fund, ensuring the continued commitment to her charges through the work of Variety.

Variety the Children’s Charity is pleased to acknowledge her work as a philanthropist through the Presidential Citation Award at the Variety International World Conference 2014 held in Barbados


PICU at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital

Variety Club Caribbean Barbados Inc. was officially registered under the laws of Barbados on November 25, 1994. Some years earlier, Dr. Richard Ishmael, Michael Pemberton, Cheryl Lady Forde and a few other dedicated founding members worked together to raise the necessary capital to start a Variety chapter. The first major project identified was the need for a five-bed Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital to provide intensive focused care to monitor and treat the most serious conditions of children in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean.

On Tuesday September 16th, 1997, this vision became a reality Variety – Tent 73 was instrumental in funding the majority of equipment for a new four-bed PICU within the Paediatric Unit of the QEH. The QEH has been equipped to handle emergency admissions for young patients requiring various levels of life support and care for immediate post-operative open heart surgical patients, orthopaedic and neurological patients from Barbados and other Caribbean countries.

The unit has since seen thousands of patients and has been upgraded over the years by Variety and other local organisations. Variety Barbados has pledged its continued assistance to the PICU and by extension the children in Barbados. The volunteers and members of Variety also contribute their time and talents to the children of the PICU. Gold Hearts campaign which runs from February to early March, Variety volunteers as well as local and overseas members can be seen chatting and playing with the children during an annual visit to the unit. The children thoroughly enjoy the visit which usually comes with treats of colouring books, crayons, pencils and soft toys.

Computers bring Success in the Classroom

In the area of education, Variety continues to support the Special Needs Units with stationery and other items for their everyday usage. One new initiative or this group is the Education ICT Committee. Ashish Uttamchandani, a results-driven professional with significant technical and managerial experience within the ICT industry, chairs the committee which in its short time has donated computers at a value of over $11,000.00 for use by over 100 students.

These numbers belie the real success of this programme. The students who benefit from the programme are all challenged with learning idiosyncrasies which teachers are bound to discover and relate to. Most of them are highly sensory children who are more visual and kinesthetic than auditory and will learn better with the use of computers and other technology devices.

This was proven without a doubt within days of the placing of the first set of computers. Variety received a call from the Erdiston Special Needs School stating that one student, who ordinarily was unresponsive and did not write answers to the mathematical problems given, suddenly was showing his mathematical and English skills on the computer! Success!!

The School reports that this student, and others, continue to interact more forcefully with teachers through the use of the computer programmes that generate bonus games and other interactions for work done correctly.

This programme could not be successful without the assistance of corporate Barbados who donates the computers.


Melissa Walcott Pusey graduated from the school of physiotherapy in Jamaica in 1996 and worked in Jamaica until 2004 where she became Head of Physiotherapy for the Mandeville Regional Hospital. Previously she spent two years working in the Bustamante Children Hospital.

Melissa returned to Barbados and started her own business Total Therapy Inc which provides physiotherapy services to patients at home and in an office environment. However she missed treating children and when Variety Barbados provided her with the opportunity to work at the Children’s Development Centre (now A C Graham Development Centre) arose she jumped at it. Since then she has enjoyed caring for these kids and their families as they face challenges specific to their demographic.

Melissa is always available to Variety Barbados when we officially or unofficially need her expert opinion in purchasing mobility devices for children who in need. She willingly offers advice as a professional and as a care giver who loves children. In addition, Melissa attends many of the events we provide for the children just to make sure they are comfortable and enjoying themselves. Melissa is a priceless addition to the Variety team.


Over the years, we have seen many physically and mentally challenged children experience the very positive and helpful effects of regular physiotherapy sessions. Sometimes, the sessions help the children deal with pain and discomfort; or they can help the children grow and develop better, improving their motor skills and mobility.

The Barbados government does its best to fund the necessary physiotherapy sessions at the A C Graham Development Centre, but government budgets are very limited and the demand from our children greatly exceeds what the government’s programme can afford.
This is where Variety steps in to make a difference.

Every month we provide funds to increase the number of physiotherapy sessions available to children with challenges. In an average month, we are able to top up governments programme by about 30 hours of physiotherapy sessions. This still does not meet the needs of all the children, but it is a big step in the right direction.

This is one of the many programmes offered by Variety, the Children’s Charity. All of them are designed to help the children of Barbados, particularly those who are poor or challenged mentally, physically or economically.
You can help us for as little as $50 per year. That is all it costs to become a member of Variety Barbados. Just click on the Membership Form to sign up.

Please help us help the children in need.
Cherise Weekes
Office Administrator/Volunteer Manager
P.S. Your donation can make a big difference in the life of a child. It is simple to join, You can do it now – it takes only one minute. Donate Today

Kerri Gooding

NICE!! I really do like your writing.” – Donnah Russell, Executive Directive, Variety the Children’s Charity – Tent 73, Barbados.

Kerri Gooding is a collection of words. She is a logophile; a word-lover, but this was not always the case. A journalist for the past four years, Gooding holds a Bachelors of Arts in Linguistics and Psychology (Hons). Specialising in social, educational and entertainment news, Gooding is very passionate about her work, and interacts well with people of any age or demographic.

Kerri Gooding is nothing except professional and fully utilises technology to mitigate and solve any issue.

Journalist, poet and blogger, Gooding has evolved over the years from the Mathematics-focused child she was at a younger age. Never once did she dream that a love for words would replace her love for numbers. After reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone at age 10, the seed was planted and the love was born.

Today writing daily for a number of publications including The Barbados Advocate, HEAT Magazine and Hello! Magazine, Gooding has interviewed many popular people including international recording artistes such as Beres Hammond, Maroon5, Jennifer Hudson, Hal Linton, Deborah Cox and more.

On the more humanitarian side, she has had the honour of interviewing Senator Floyd Morris of Jamaica and Senator Kerryann Ifill of Barbados, both of whom have overcome their visual impairments to claim the post and title of President of the Senate in their respective countries. These are two interviewees who most standout in her mind over the years.

In addition, she has written biographies for artistes, models and fashion designers, chatted with numerous centenarians, interviewed children with terminal illnesses who can only be discribed as angels on Earth and spoken with politicians about policies that would redound to the benefit of various groups in the Barbadian society.

Experienced in the field of communications having studied Communications Psychology, over the years, Gooding has established a network of contacts and relationships with persons from her home in Barbados, throughout the Caribbean region and the wider world.

Humble, compassionate, assiduous and patient, Gooding fully intends to continue to excel upon the world’s stage. With her words, Kerri Gooding paints pictures and tells stories of people, places and cultures positively, embracing Mahatma Gandhi’s words “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

I ABSOLUTELY LOVE MY ARTICLE!!!!!!” – Dj Sunshine, Irie Fm, Jamaica.


“Thanks so much for your coverage for all of our events that you are able to make yourself available for and to include such great coverage.” – Nicole Garofano, Administrative Director, Future Centre Trust.


Kerri was awarded the Variety International’s Media Award for her work with Variety Barbados during the Variety International World Conference held in May 2014 in Barbaods.

Article in Barbados Today – Up Beat Wholesale donated 100 T-shirts to Variety

Now our volunteers can look smart as we serve the kids!!
Thank you Up Beat Wholesale


This year, the Chefette Fun Run raised $65000 for Variety the Children’s Charity of Barbados.  This is an increase of $15000 when compared with the funds raised in 2013.  The proceeds from the Chefette Fun Run are managed by Variety , as requested by the late Dame Olga Lopes-Seale. The funds raised will be used to benefit many needy children on the island.  This will be achieved through the purchase of uniforms, books, school bags and shoes for children whose parents are unable to do so.


June 27th was a day of fun, excitement and giving. That’s when Variety the Children’s Charity of Barbados held its annual Row for Charity event.  Teams competed in two kayak races and one stand up paddle board race.  There was also a tug of war competition for children.  The beach adjacent to Harbour Lights, Carlisle Bay, came alive with several excited participants and scores of intrigued spectators.  In the end, the children of Barbados were the ultimate winners.  The event raised money that will be put to good use by Variety.  We thank everyone who helped to make the Row for Charity a great success.  Congratulations to the winning teams: Aesthetic Dental Challengers (who won the Wind Warriors Wonder Race), iMart (who won the Motor Maniacs Madness Race for the 4th consecutive year) and the Peddling Paddlers (who won the Stand-Up Paddle Relay Race).

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