Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) are high ranking officials and do-gooders serving their country at home and afield. The 2009 list of recipients includes professors, policy makers, scientific researchers, Olympic athletes, doctors, embassy officials and one barefoot, balladeer barkeep from the BVI. Auspiciously announced on New Year’s Eve, Queen Elizabeth II’s appointments included none other than Mr. Philicianno Callwood of Jost Van Dyke, known to the world as Foxy.
Early in December Foxy received a call from BVI Governor David Pearey, telling him of the appointment. “He told me not to say anything,” Foxy said. “I didn’t even tell Tessa.” Hours before the notorious Olde Year’s Night celebration was getting under way at the Callwoods’ Tamarind Bar, he ran into the Governor’s secretary who informed him that the BBC had spilled the beans and he could, too.
Foxy went first to tell his wife. “Tessa didn’t believe it. She thought I was joking,” which is no surprise since one of his talents is stretching a good tale. That night, for the final hours of 2008, Foxy floated through the crowd of thousands, dressed head to toe in white and accessorized with a panama hat, battery powered 2009 glasses and a mile-wide smile.
The next day we chatted about why he’d been given the prestigious honor. In his unassuming way he replied, “I don know why dey give it to me. De Governor didn’t say.” Officially, Foxy was honored for ambassadorship at home and around the world, for countless contributions to tourism and because of undaunted efforts to preserve the heritage of his homeland. “I tink dis will be good for de future, for de next generation,” he said. “Hopefully dis news would help people see dat preserving what you got is real; dat getting rid of it for someting new, dat is not real.” The mile wide grin returned. “I told Tessa, all dose years of working on de Preservation Society, when nothing looked like it was going anywhere; we just kept going and believing; now it’s paid off.”
Foxy will have the opportunity to travel at a later date to one of twenty-two investiture ceremonies held at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle or another royal venue. He’s pondering the trip but emphatically declared, “I’m not going in de winter. I’m not going in de winter, no place.”
Meanwhile, the Caribbean legend is a happy man, heading to sea for fish and lobster, playing his guitar and making people happy.
Editor’s note: All at Sea writers Nancy Terrell and Dave Cooper emailed in late January to say that that Foxy and Tessa planned to join them aboard Swan Song for five days to transit the Panama Canal. “It seems that going through the canal is on Foxy’s ‘Bucket List,’” Terrell reported. We look forward to canal tales in a future issue. Congratulation from all of us at All at Sea, Foxy!