Pages Navigation Menu

Celebration of life of Miss Carmen Ethylene Majorie Beckford M.B.E.

“In the Spirit of Carnival”

A Celebration of the life of Miss Carmen Etheline Marjorie Beckford M.B.E.

Sunrise: 21st Dec 1928    Sunset: 18th May 2016

You are invited to attend the funeral service of this

Iconic Black Bristolian

on

Friday 17th June 2016

12.00pm

(Doors Open from 11.30am)

 

St Mary Redcliffe Church

12 Colston Parade

Bristol BS1 6RA

 

DRESS CODE: Bright & Colourful

 

 


Carmen Beckford 2

Michelle Curtis interview with Carmen Beckford in 2015.
Carmen Beckford was the first child of seven children born in St Thomas, Jamaica to Etheline and Rosnel Beckford. At the age of 17 Carmen travelled to the UK and trained to become a nurse. Carmen decided to train in every aspect of nursing because she wanted to be free to travel to any country and still be able to find meaningful employment.

 

In 1965 Carmen moved to Bristol, she was working as a midwife in Downend. In the same year, Harold Wilson set up the Race Council in London, and shortly there after it was introduced in Bristol. Carmen was happily working as a midwife when the Medical Officer of Health suggested that she apply for the job as Race Relation Officer for Bristol. However, Carmen had plans to move to Canada to be closer to her parents and refused to apply. The Medical Officer of Health was adamant that Carmen apply for the post and as a last attempt to convince her to apply he contacted the Jamaican High Commission and told them that they were experiencing problems with Carmen because she would not apply for the post as a Race Relation Officer for Bristol, and how the Bristol City Council were keen to interview her. The Jamaican High Commission and the Chief Medical Officer convinced Carmen to wait two years before moving to Canada and to apply for the role of Race Relations Officer for the City, so she took their advice and applied. 35 people applied for the role, including Dr. Paul Stephenson OBE, of which Carmen was the only female. Carmen Beckford became the first Race Relations Officer in Bristol but one of the last to be appointed in the UK.

 

Her role as the Race relations Officer was to integrate communities and help to build young people’s self esteem. Carmen recalls, ‘There was a lot of racism in the city and I was the last Race Relations Officer to be appointed in the UK, Enoc Powell hated Black people, I remember when I had set up the West Indian Dance Team our first performance was in a City, up North and he was in that city they same time we were performing.’ The Race Council closed in 2005.

 

In 1965 Carmen became an executive member of the Commonwealth Co-ordinated Committee, and worked alongside Owen Henry, Roy Hackett, Leotta Goodridge, Dr. Paul Stephenson OBE, Clifford Drummond, Audley Evans, Barbara Dettering, Delores Campbell, Trevor Thompson and many other of our cities Elders. Carmen explained. ‘Back then there was no jealousy or malicious intent. We all had are own lives and projects and supported one another. We all shared the same vision and we worked together to make it happen.’

 

Carmen had established the West Indian Dance Team as a means of integrating communities through her role as the City’s Race Relations Officer and recalls; ‘We performed at the Colston Hall and travelled to Weston-Super-Mare and as far as Germany. I wanted for my team what I wanted for myself and family. I loved them! When you have self-respect and pride no one can mess with you. I was involved in all of their lives, I would tell my girls when you are walking on the street keep your head high and no loud talking as you are members of The West Indian Dance Team.’

 

Carmen Beckford

Through her role of Race Relation Officer and the founder of the West Indian Dance Team, Carmen organised a camping trip to Devon for the young people living in Bristol and wanted to host a fundraising event at the Colston Hall, in Bristol’s City Centre. Carmen was told that it would not be possible as the Colston Hall had never hosted an event like what she was proposing, to which Carmen replied, well we need to change it. Carmen received permission to host the fundraiser at the Colston Hall. There were Asian and Irish dance teams in addition to the African Caribbean dancers and the event was a complete success and continued to run annually for a few years to follow. Carmen states that they raised more than enough money to take the children away on camping trips and remembers that there was an unknown white male, who chose to remain anonymous who every year doubled the proceeds and donated it to the camping trips. Carmen has stated that to this day, that gentleman is still unknown but that she is extremely grateful for his contributions as they made a great difference to the lives of others in the city.

 

When St. Pauls Festival was created back 1968 Carmen was in charge of the entertainment. This free event has worldwide fame and continues to attract crowds of around 100,000 people each year.

 

Carmen Beckford felt very passionate about the integration of all ethnicities in Bristol and continues to be a respected and loved Elder of our City. For her work and dedication Her Royal Highness, Queen Elizabeth II in 1982, awarded her with an MBE. When asked about being identified as an Iconic Black Bristolian she replied ‘… I never paid much attention to what other people felt was right or wrong, or whether people felt that I should be doing this or that. I just followed what was in here (my heart), as that is the only voice that matters and trust that he (god) is guiding me to do the right thing…’ – Carmen Beckford

“In the Spirit of Carnival”

A Celebration of the life of Miss Carmen Etheline Marjorie Beckford M.B.E.
Sunrise: 21st Dec 1928    Sunset: 18th May 2016

You are invited to attend the funeral service of this

Iconic Black Bristolian

on

Friday 17th June 2016
12.00pm
(Doors Open from 11.30am)

St Mary Redcliffe Church
12 Colston Parade
Bristol BS1 6RA

DRESS CODE: Bright & Colourful

468 ad