Dame Yvonne Maginley: A Trailblazer For Women

The Antigua and Barbuda High Commission, UK mourns the passing of Dame Yvonne Maginley DCN, CMG, OBE, OD, a trailblazer for women who served the nation of Antigua and Barbuda with distinction in the areas of tourism and culture, community development, and governance.

Having received her education at the T.O.R. Memorial School, Dame Yvonne went on to join the Antigua and Barbuda Broadcasting Service (ABS) as a producer. After that, she entered the fledgeling male-dominated tourism sector and was appointed in 1958 as the Executive Secretary of the Antigua Tourist Board. It was during this time that Dame Yvonne was part of a team of visionaries who crafted the foundations of our current tourism sector in a move that transitioned Antigua and Barbuda from an agrarian-based economy into a service-based economy. A result of her role in developing one of the Caribbean’s leading tourist destinations, Dame Yvonne dived further into the local and regional tourism industry through many appointments. These include Director-General of Tourism in Antigua and Barbuda; founding member and chairperson of the Caribbean Tourism Association (now the Caribbean Tourism Organisation); Executive Director of the Eastern Caribbean Tourism Association; and many more. She was also instrumental in the establishment of the Antigua and Barbuda Hospitality Training Institute (ABHTI) and the tourism offices in North America, the UK, and Europe. 

More locally, Dame Yvonne served as the Secretary of the Antigua Carnival Committee and the chairperson for many Antigua Carnival Sub-Committees in the development of Antigua and Barbuda’s premier summer festival. As a classically trained pianist, she served as a founding member and musical director of the renowned Antigua Community Players since 1957 up until a few years ago. Dame Yvonne also composed and arranged many patriotic and folks songs to include ‘Where Land and Sea Make Beauty’, ‘Rejoice’, ‘Antigua the Beautiful’, ‘Antiguan Medley’, ‘Birthday of the Nation’, ‘The Unsung Heroes’, ‘Independence Hymn’, ‘We Thank Thee Lord’, and many more unpublished pieces. In terms of community development, she led a group of like-minded individuals for the redevelopment of the National Public Library and other social institutions critical to the socio-economic development of the twin-island state. Dame Yvonne’s impact on Antiguan and Barbudan society encompassed the empowerment of women and their role in nation building. Today, many outstanding women across the island hold Dame Yvonne as a par excellence role model who broke the glass ceiling even before other women in developed countries and paved the path they now enjoy. 

Having reached the pièce de résistance of national service, Dame Yvonne was appointed and served as the Governor-General’s Deputy between 1999-2004.

Antigua and Barbuda’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Her Excellency Karen-Mae Hill noted, “Who comes to my mind instantly when I think of the lasting impact on Antiguan and Barbudan music, culture, and community? Dame Yvonne Maginley. We lost a remarkable daughter of the soil, but her legacy lives on through 80% of our country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), through our largest summer festival, through the National Public Library, through the many musical pieces sung annually, through her representations at the highest levels of governance, and through her lasting impact on the empowerment of women. Dame Yvonne Maginley lived a life which inspired each to endeavour and all to achieve.”

The official funeral for Dame Yvonne Maginley will take place this afternoon at 1:00 PM at The Anglican Cathedral of St. John The Divine. Burial will be at the St. John’s Public Cemetery.