The Right Honourable Professor Sir Aral Howard Archibald Fergus KBE OE PhD was laid to rest today after a service to celebrate his life at the St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church in Lookout.
The Government of Montserrat granted full military honours to the former speaker of the legislature, historian and poet. Businesses complied with the request to close until 6PM to honour the man who spent much of his life researching and writing Montserrat’s history.
His wife, Lady Eudora Fergus of whom he fondly credited for her unwavering support and her faith was in attendance. His two daughters, his son and their families were also at the service supported by many friends, business leaders and the wider community.
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Dignitaries in attendance included Governor Sarah Tucker, Premier Joseph Farrell, Deputy Premier Dr. Samuel Joseph, and Member of the Opposition Claude Hogan.
The service and burial which ran more four hours was officiated by Dr. Fergus’ former pastor Bishop Abraham Riley, his most recent pastor Reverend Toney Allen and a long-time friend who now pastors in the United Kingdom, Reverend Dr. Ruthlyn Bradshaw. Reverend Sonny Williams, General Bishop of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the West Indies (PAWI) delivered a tribute during the service.
Premier Joseph Farrell said in his tribute “it can be said that he was a well accomplished and highly illustrious son of Montserrat soil whose extraordinary achievements spanned multiple continuents and diverse disciplines. Undisputedly, the record will show that Sir Howard’s extraordinary public service and immense contributions to society have sacrificially built up our country and lifted our people.”
Farrell also remarked that the late historian was over the years, several leaders of government have solicited the expertise and professional guidance on matters such as Decolonisation and Montserrat’s Development History and the UK Relationship with Overseas Territories.
In her tribute addressed to Lady Eudora Fergus, Governor Sarah Tucker shared that Dr. Fergus “was a prolific and wonderful author, a man totally dedicated to Montserrat, and his service to it. He will be remembered for all of this, for his kindness, his sense of humor and his love of his family.”
Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons’ tribute which was printed in the official funeral programme noted that “Sir Howard holds the Commonwealth record for the longest serving Speaker and with that length of service, there comes much experience, knowledge and wisdom.”
The moving eulogy read by Dr. Fergus’ second daughter Carla Lee provided information on aspects of his life that many who did not know him closely or who were not from his beloved Long Ground would know. She shared that “the greatest lesson he taught after love for God was humility. In spite of his accomplishments and the positions that he held in public life he held fast to where he came from. He did not pull rank or expect any type of favouritism and he instilled this in us. He was comfortable amongst the ordinary man and often spent time at Captain Weekes supermarket in Wapping or at Richard Samuel in Kinsale. He said he was not bright but he worked hard and he credited anything that he achieve to divine favour and the hand of God guiding his path.”
The prolific writer of more than 40 publications of history, poetry and monographs was serenaded with specially requested performances from pannist Charles “Jackie” Dangler and his home church choir from Faith Tabernacle Pentecostal Church.
The send off was made more impactful with the presence of the Antigua & Barbuda Police Marching Band who provided music on the march from the church to the burial site overlooking Margarita Bay in Lookout.
After the proceedings Premier Farrell presented Lady Fergus with the flag which had covered the coffin and returned the medals Dr. Fergus was honoured with throughout his life.
Sir Howard was 85 at the time of his passing.
Watch our Tribute to Sir Howard Fergus here…