S omeone twisted my arm, not really hard, to tell the truth, and got me out of retirement. Was just beginning to enjoy my fat pension after six years with the San Pedro Sun, but what the heck. Work doesn't kill anybody.
Want to start the first issue of the new editors with "A First Lady." She is my good neighbour and friend - Victoria Collins.
Victoria was born in a small beach community in Southern California, Manhattan Beach. Today it is a popular tourist destination. Born in 1939, only 59 years ago, Victoria tried hard to keep out of trouble and out of the sea as she ran barefoot up and down the beach. After her formal education, and trying a few occupations, Vlctoria settled as a real estate broker in the USA. By then she was the mother of four children, two boys and two girls, one of them better known as Teacher Katy or Miss Brickey.
In 1988 Victoria and Bruce made their visit to San Pedro and it was like infatuation, or love at first sight for a 15 year old girl. By 1989, she had moved to make San Pedro her new home. The first few months were spent overhauling a spanking new house that was to become their love nest with garden, marine deck, bird trough, a shrine and even a church bell, now the official bell of the San Pablo church.
Victoria came to San Pedro looking little more than real estate could offer in the rat race of the metropolis. She found it by making friends and becoming involved. Long before obtaining her residency, she proved her worthiness of Belizean residency by becoming involved in practically all affairs of our community's culture and way of life. Victoria has walked barefooted and has cured "chechem" with 'hookup" without going to the doctor. (Chechem and hoolup are a poison wood and the cure for it respectively.) She has been an active member and participant with BTIA - the Belize Tourism Industry Association, because she figured that it she helped tourism increase, her little "paradise" would be a better place to live in. Victoria is an active member of the San Pedro Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides scholarships to needy and deserving students. She has played her role in politics, quiet but forceful and very influential too. We have seen Victoria and friends as red as a devil dancing the streets of San Pedro during Carnival and telling the world that sometimes doing fun things out of the ordinary is okay. She has attended funerals and grieved along with the mournful. She has been to practically all weddings and 15 años in a community where all family and friends are welcome with invitation and others are allowed to simply "jump in." Victoria has been to all sports stadiums and even traveled along with the Dolphins of San Pedro. She has spent long hours during a Saturday as red as a tomato with gloves on cleaning the roadside and picking up debris in an effort to raise consciousness and community pride. She has been to the beaches, to swim and to clean or participate in some environmental group efforts. When she is not reading, she is doing some gardening and exchanging plants with locals.
This first lady finds the time to attend church functions, crime committee events, PTA meetings, Lions functions, and inaugurations of all important entities.
Two great achievements of this First Lady are the San Pedro Sun and The Sea and Air Festival. " The San Pedro Sun has opened many doors to me and my family" says Victoria in her usual humble and friendly manner. "We first became a part of San Pedro through our friendships and through the San Pedro Sun." She later became a member of the San Pedro International Sea and Air Festival, an event which she has chaired more than once, has promoted it, has internationalized it, has proven it financially viable. Her satisfaction is to see San Pedranos happy, and the festival does exactly that.
Perhaps what strikes one the most when one gets to know Victoria is when you see her simply chatting with people whether at Christmas time or Saturday morning down the street. Her sweetness, her frankness, her sincerity, her loyalty to San Pedro all reveal a woman passionately in love with San Pedro.
Twenty Five Years Ago has written many tributes to San Pedro's Hall of Fame, but this one has been extremely easy. I believe if I had to write one of myself, it would be more difficult.
In only nine years, Vlctoria has done more for San Pedro than some people have done in 50 years. For her passion, her love, her dedication and commitment, San Pedro is honoured to welcome Señora Vlctoria Collins into San Pedro's Hall of Fame.