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Former Government Minister and Business Woman Margaret Annie Dyer-Howe Has Died at 78

Margarent Annie Dyer-Howe

News of the passing of former minister of government Mrs Margaret Annie Dyer-Howe has brought outpourings of tributes and condolences for this Montserratian stalwart.

Known to most as Annie Dyer-Howe, she was born on November 18, 1940 according to information in Gallery Montserrat: Some Prominent People in Our History, by Professor Sir Howard Fergus. She held many roles in her lifetime including that of school teacher, entrepreneur, manufacturer, General Manager at the Montserrat Water Authority, and Justice of the Peace, recounts the Montserrat Icons page on Facebook.

She was a former minister for education, health and social services. “Hardworking and committed, she was a noted champion of women’s rights regionally”, said journalist Mike Jarvis. “She also fought for the causes of the elderly and disabled and was a stalwart member of the Roman Catholic church. To add to her accomplishments, ‘Miss Annie’ was a … driving force and founding member of what was then the original St Patrick’s Village Day Festival.”

Annie Margaret Dyer-Howe nee Corbett was awarded the Montserrat Order of Excellence in 2018 for her contributions to the socio-economic development of Montserrat.

Sir Howard Fergus noted “She has perhaps accomplished more in her lifetime than any other woman in Montserrat’s history. It is all the more impressive that it has been done without much ado and fanfare.”

“In 1979, Dyer-Howe entered politics winning a by-election. She regained, as it were, the position lost by her husband, but her role as a parliamentarian had a legitimacy of its own, rooted as it was in her record of community service. After winning her electoral division again in the 1983 general elections, Dyer-Howe was assigned a ministerial post with responsibility for education, health, community services, women’s affairs, culture and sports. As a backbencher Dyer-Howe made short speeches, but they reflected her social conscience. In her maiden speech, she called for the cooperation “of every man and woman who is prepared to put progress for all just a little ahead of personal gain”; and she supported the granting of the franchise to 18-year-olds commending it as “a very positive and democratic move”.”

She co-owned with her husband Howe’s Enterprises, which produced a stream of agro-products, including the local bottled water brand, Montserrat Spring Water, hot sauce, rums and liqueurs.

Margarent Annie Dyer-Howe with the Agro-Products made by her company Howe’s Enterprises. (Hilde Blake Photo)

Former Minister Charles Kirnon said of her “You have paved the way open doors for women in Montserrat and the region. You did it with humility not seeking to belittle or defame anyone. You held many positions in your beloved island. Women’s right were on your agenda but you understood that in Montserrat what others sought we had already won for you served at all levels.
You were a hard worker a go-getter. Your sense of humour was great. You lived you loved and you laughed. Certainly you enjoyed life . You entered the world’s stage you played your part with dignity.”

In 2010, the Bank of Montserrat Ltd, recognised her as one of Montserrat’s Icons, noting she was the second Montserratian woman to become a Minister of Government (1983). A number of landmark decisions including comprehensive secondary education and the opening of an Old People’s Home are associated with her tenure. A remarkable politician, Dyer-Howe was equally outstanding in civil society. She was Vice President of both the Old People’s Welfare Association and the St. Patrick’s Credit Union and President of the Catholic Social League. Internationally recognized, she was drafted into the planning committee for the World Conference on the UN Decade for Women.”

May she rest in peace.