Mr Emerson Gill

Emerson Ingomar Gill was born in St Michael, Barbados in 1961. He came to live in Newport in the mid-1980s following his marriage.

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A childhood in Barbados

Emerson was the oldest of his mother’s five children. He also had brothers and sisters on his father’s side, including one brother with a month’s difference in age

His father – a police deputy commissioner – was often away from home so Emerson mostly lived with his grandparents. Emerson remembers an enjoyable childhood with lots of friends.

The family lived in Brittons Hill and Emerson attended St Paul’s Primary School where he remembers the teachers ‘flogging’ children who behaved badly or made mistakes in their schoolwork.

Barbados had produced some of the world’s greatest cricketers and cricket was extremely popular among younger boys. Emerson was one of six who showed particular talent for the game – he was a fast bowler and opening batsman.

There were lots of fruit trees around – apple, orange, plums, mangoes – and the children used to ‘climb like monkeys’ to reach the fruit.

He also enjoyed horse riding, surfing, and soccer, and playing games like ‘cowboy and crook’ or ‘catcher’.

Being respectable and respecting others was extremely important in Emerson’s family. Like most Bajan children, Emerson was taught to respect and obey his elders. He has maintained this ethos of respecting others throughout his life.

His grandmother was a minister and used to preach the bible at home. Emerson has remembered the lessons she taught him throughout his life.

Working in Barbados

Emerson’s first job was in a store called Abbotts, which sold clothing and soft furnishings. He remembers going to Bridgetown with a fellow worker to pick up new stock at the port.

Emerson then found work in the hotel sector, where he again valued respect and politeness above all. His particular approach to good service was to anticipate a customer’s needs in advance – producing a lighter before someone asked, refilling someone water jug or offering Aloe Vera to someone with sunburn.

At first he worked as a waiter, but later he was promoted to security. His approach was to always treat people with respect and speak to them in a polite manner.

He was working at the Golden Sands Hotel in Oistins when he met his future wife Sheila; she came from Newport.

Early days in Newport

The couple married in Barbados and then boarded a plane for the UK.

Emerson learned a lot about England at school and he had always wanted to come to the UK.

The first thing that hit him on the journey from the airport to Newport was the amount of traffic – he had never seen traffic like it in his life.

He settled into his new home on Melfort Road and started exploring Newport.

It was the late 1980s and Emerson hoped to find work in a hospital; however his first job in Newport was at the Hilton Hotel. He later worked for a security company and at the bowling alley.

In1994, he found work at the Tesco warehouse and he stayed there for 22 years until ill health forced him to give up his job.

Alongside his ‘day’ job, he always worked for many years as a bouncer at the Queen’s Hotel in Bridge Street.

In 1998, Emerson was hailed a hero after going to the aid of a pensioner whose bag was snatched.

Bajan culture

Emerson still misses Barbados and returns when he can. He likes the friendliness of the island – and the fact that you can leave your windows and doors open.

He doesn’t like the UK climate and believes his health improves dramatically when he is in Barbados; his doctor commented on how well he looked after a recent trip home.

Emerson still enjoys Bajan food: rice and peas, callaloo or tasty Bajan soup.


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