Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange has announced that reggae legend Toots Hibbert will be laid to rest in National Heroes Park.
Minister Grange said this had become possible thanks to the generosity of the family of the late Charles Hyatt – the actor, broadcaster, director and author – whose remains were due to be reinterred in the last burial spot for cultural icons at National Heroes Park.
In a statement today, Grange said that Hyatt had requested to be buried in National Heroes Park, but they were told that there were no more spaces available and he was instead interred at the Meadowrest Memorial Park in St Catherine.
It was later discovered that there was one final burial space available in the relevant section at National Heroes Park and the Government went back to the family, who decided that they would exhume Hyatt’s remains and reinter them in National Heroes Park. It has been several years since that decision.
Earlier this week, Toots’ burial had to be abandoned as the family could not produce an order authorizing the interment.
Toots, 77, died at the University Hospital of the West Indies on September 11, nearly two weeks after he tested positive for COVID-19.
Grange stated that given the current need for a suitable burial place for the late Toots Hibbert, the Hyatt family has consented to allow the reggae legend to be interred in the final burial spot in the section for cultural icons in National Heroes Park.
“I have received the approval of Prime Minister Andrew Holness to proceed with plans for the interment of Toots Hibbert in National Heroes Park. I deeply appreciate the consideration of the Hyatt family in this matter. Toots is without question one of the pioneers of reggae music. He has even been credited with giving the genre its name. He is a national treasure whose humble demeanour and affable personality belied his towering global stature. Interment in National Heroes Park will suitably memorialise his contribution to Jamaica and reignite the unity in his family, among his peers and his fans which is required at this time,” Grange said.
Grange has also endorsed plans to erect a monument of Toots in his hometown.
“The current situation has highlighted the need for the establishment of a memorial park for the interment of Jamaica’s cultural icons. We started work on the establishment of this memorial park in the Bruce Golding administration. So far, we have developed a concept, identified a location where the relevant tests, including soil testing, have been completed. We will now move to develop the designs and budget to present a detailed proposal to the Cabinet. I commit to ensuring that the late Charles Hyatt is memorialised in the proposed park,” said Grange.