Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Farewell Nurse Extraordinaire Leleka Champagnie

The wonderful Leleka Champagnie
 My best memory of Leleka Champagnie was her inviting me to the car park after a CCRP event three years ago, ‘so you can see what I am driving now.’  The then 91-year-old past president of the Nurses Association of Jamaica, with that endearing twinkle in her eyes, pointed to a spanking new sedan, complete with spoiler!   Leleka was walking strongly - not even a stick she used.  Later that year, her dear friend Syringa Marshall-Burnett told us that she attended an international conference.

That was the ever youthful Leleka, a founding member and spirited participant in our CCRP  activities.  After a short illness, Leleka passed away earlier this month.  Her rich life was celebrated at a moving Thanksgiving Service at the Church of the Open Bible last Thursday.  Our condolence to her family – Rest in Peace, dear Leleka.

Jean Lowrie-Chin
CCRP (Caribbean Community of Retired Persons)

Special Tribute to Leleka Champagnie from her colleague Syringa Marshall-Burnett, Board Director of CCRP. 

We pay tribute to Mrs. Leleka Champagnie, one of our pioneer members.  She joined CCRP at the age of 91 and was a regular attendee at most of our functions to which she always drove herself.

Leleka belonged to that echelon of nurses who are immortal because of the pioneering and trailblazing work she did in the profession. She was the first holder of the post of Nursing Welfare Officer in the Ministry of Health and she became well known to every nurse in the service. The post was created at a time when nurses were disgruntled and leaving the service.  It was through her intervention that the delay in formally appointing nurses so that they could avail themselves of the benefits of the profession was corrected and the system organized to enable appointments in the service within 6 months of successful employment. 

But it was as a standard bearer in the Nurses Association of Jamaica that she became even better known.  The conditions she found at the Port Maria Hospital activated her and she never looked back from serving the association.  With special training in Negotiations at the UWI Trade Union Institute she was always on the negotiating team.  She is the only staff nurse to have ever been elected President and she was President on 3 different occasions.  The nurses’ hostel bears her name, she was honoured by the Caribbean Nurses Organization and the Government of Jamaica gave her the Order of Distinction, 0fficer class. 

A woman of deep and strong faith, she was an Elder and active member of the Boulevard Baptist Church and rose to administrative positions in the Baptist Union - one of the first females to occupy such an august position.  She has been mentor, guide and a tower of strength to many both in nursing and in her church.  We may not see the likes of Leleka Champagnie again but we are assured that her soul is resting in peace and that Light perpetual shines upon her.

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