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West Indian Century-Makers


It seems incredible to think that there are people born during the First World War still alive today. That means they have lived for one hundred years or more. In 2015 it was estimated that there were more than half a million known centenarians worldwide.
One country celebrated the longevity of some of its citizens by way of a special limited edition stamp issue in 2016.

That was the Caribbean island of Barbados, whose postal service paid tribute to citizens of Barbados who have lived for a century with a stamp issue, aptly called Centenarians of Barbados. Comprising a total of 27 stamps, the collection was released on December 8, 2016 and wass the largest stamp issue ever released on the island.
The 27 centenarian stamps feature portraits of some “Bajans” who have died and others who are still alive. Twenty of the stamps feature people who were 100 years old at the time of printing, while the remaining seven feature “semi-super centenarians,” who are between 105 and 109 years old, and “super centenarians” who are, amazingly, 110 years or more.

One person to have her own stamp is Elaine Ometa Walkes, who was born in 1914 and celebrated her 104th birthday on January 16th, 2018. The Barbados Postal Service shared Mrs. Walkes’ stamp on Facebook and revealed how one of her nephews describes his aunt as “still sharp, witty and very funny…told me she can see better than me.”
The mini sheet below is a fine example of the excitement felt on the island back in 1966 when Barbados gained Independence. It depicts Errol Walton Barrow, the first Prime Minister and Governor-General Sir John Stow celebrating on Independence night, 30th November 1966. I’m sure all of the people featured on the “Centenarian” stamps also danced the night away on that famous night.

The last census on the island in 2016 showed that there were one hundred and fourteen centenarians alive on Barbados of which only eleven were men. The National Committee on Ageing (NCOA) research also identified that by the start of 2017 there could be another thirty eight women and ten more men who would join this elite club.
Clearly it wouldn’t be possible to issue a stamp for everyone reaching one hundred years old, so for the 2016 issue individuals who had made an outstanding contribution to Barbados were chosen to be honoured.

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