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First female Grenadian governor Bynoe dies at 91
Dame Hilda Bynoe, the first native-born governor of Grenada, passed away yesterday morning in Trinidad, after ailing since December. She was 91. Bynoe was the first woman governor in the British Commonwealth and the first native governor of Grenada. Grenadian Prime Minister Keith Mitchell has lauded her accomplishments, calling her a “patriotic Grenadian.”
Mitchell took time out from a Cabinet meeting yesterday to speak with the Sunday Guardian and to send his condolences to the Bynoe family, thanking them for the time he said they loaned her to Grenada and the wider Caribbean in service. “Grenada considers the passing of Dame (Hilda) Bynoe as a great loss, not just to Grenada but to the Caribbean as a whole.” He said her love for the citizens of Grenada spoke to the “quality of person” she was.
“She came from a rural place and maintained her love for the people.” He said he also admired that she managed to maintain her independence, saying although she was appointed governor by the Queen, there were instances when she had to remove herself from and stand independent of the very people who appointed her, in preservation of the office.
“Over the years we have been in constant communication and she would have hosted me on occasions that I visited Trinidad. Hers is a difficult loss for Grenada and also for the wider Caribbean.” Mitchell said his government was in the middle of budget preparations, but if it was at all possible he would attend the funeral.Her son Roland Bynoe described her as a “Caribbean woman.”
“She was my mother and a great woman. Two things she truly loved were Grenada and my father (Trinidadian Peter Bynoe), who passed in 2003. She was a Caribbean woman. She grew up in an era when the unity of the Caribbean was important. It was important to both her and Daddy when the Federation and then the Little Eight failed. She introduced my brother (Michael) and me to a lot of Caribbean personalities. We worked at keeping those connections and developed some of our own.
“She was also a strong believer in family, not just the nuclear family but the extended family. She will be buried in Trinidad, because she is not leaving Daddy,” he said.
Speaker Wade Mark, who met Bynoe when he attended a Commonwealth Parliamentary Regional Conference in Grenada in 2001, where women in politics were celebrated and Bynoe was recognised, described her as “an outstanding female scholar in Caribbean politics who for a long time had stood in the forefront of the struggle for women’s recognition in public affairs.” He added that she served with distinction and would long be remembered by the Grenadian people for her selfless service.
Hilda Bynoe went to England in 1944 to study medicine and graduated from London University’s Royal Free Hospital, then the London School of Medicine for Women in 1951.
According to the Commonwealth Secretariat Web site, Bynoe’s life was to service in the teaching and medical professions to family and community. She was appointed Governor of the Associated States of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique in 1968 and was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in 1969.
In 1974 she returned to Trinidad to resume her medical practice and her community service. In 1990, she retired to continue her writing and to assist in the care of her grandchildren. She remained a patron of organisations that included the Caribbean College of Family Physicians, the John Hayes Memorial Kidney Foundation and the Caribbean Women’s Association. She was also a member of the academic board of St George’s University, Grenada.
Her book I Woke at Dawn was published in 1996.