It was before the Covid-19 pandemic, back in 2018, when I first met his Excellency Mr Seth George Ramocan, CD - the Jamaican High Commissioner (2016-2022). At this point, everything was at an early stage, and I was keen to contact the powers that be about the ambitions I have for developing sports in Jamaica. It was through the very helpful Jamaican High Commissioner that I was able to find out more about the plans and ideas the country already had, and wanted to proceed with. Unfortunately, none of those plans involved sport or sports for the community. Meeting with the High Commissioner to share my ideas allowed him to confirm that there is a need for what it is I would like to bring to the country, and to show me a very encouraging level of support.
I was fortunate enough to meet with Mr Ramocan on a few occasions, being able to have long in-depth conversations about his ambitions and his achievements while in the position, along with sharing my own ideas, hopes and dreams. The role of a High Commissioner (HC) was not obvious to me, and this fuelled many of the questions that I eventually felt comfortable to ask. I learnt along the way that a HC is a senior diplomat, of similar level to a National Ambassador. Mr Ramocan was also the Jamaican Ambassador for six European countries, including Cyprus and Denmark. I learnt that a lot of the work they do is at government level, and tends to be with other diplomats. When I thought ahead, with him being within those circles, knowing and working with many diplomats, I saw the potential to begin what could be very helpful relationships. This only made the value of pursuing the Jamaican HC all the greater to me. With Mr Ramocan working in Central London and being based in the UK, I felt he was within touching distance; I just needed to get in touch with him!
It was a long-winded, drawn-out process to first get hold of the High Commissioner (HC) or his representatives. I called the Jamaican High Commission on numerous occasions and was often asked to leave my number, without hearing back. I managed to get hold of the email address for both the HC and the Deputy HC. I sent a few emails and barely got more than an automated reply. I asked myself the question that they asked me every time they answered the phone, “Who are you?”. My answer only went as far as my name, and maybe what I was trying to do. So why would they take time out of their busy day for me? I took being unknown as a person and project as more reason to persist, and believed that by becoming known to them, I would be in a place to be known, and known of, by many more. Perseverance got me there. I was eventually able to pester my way to a meeting with Mr Ramocan.
During the first meeting, I made clear my genuine intentions for the development of sport in Jamaica. I shared some of my story, I took them on parts of my journey up to that point, I explained my love for sport, I told them what I have been able to get from sport and give through sport so far. This meeting was the beginning of something positive. I was able to learn and feel that he does have a genuine interest in the development and progression of Jamaica, but that he also holds sport in a special place.
We had further meetings, with different combinations of people in attendance. A stand out meeting that Mr Ramocan arranged had present the Minister of Sports, Youth, Culture and Entertainment at the time, Olivia Grange CD, DSE. Something that was unclear to those present in that meeting, was why I was so willing to put so much into Jamaica? So, I went into greater detail about that part of my life’s journey, explaining long periods of time I spent in Jamaica as a child and again in my late teens. I was sent to spend time there for different reasons, and I can say that I am grateful for the experience, what I got, and the lessons I learnt while I was there. What I did not get while I was there were real opportunities to get involved in sport, and that meant me missing out on a major part of my life during my stays.
In the first meeting with Olivia Grange, I explained to her, the High Commissioner and others present, that sport is a constant in my life. Sport has taken me places, taken me away from places, given me many things and taught me countless lessons. Sport has often brought an extension to my family. In many situations, sport has provided direction, purpose and ambition to my life. After getting what my life probably needed at those times from the island, I felt the need and want to give something back to it. The island not having these sporting opportunities is something that really shouted out to me. I see this as a valuable opportunity to give something to the island that would last, affecting thousands as it does!
It was in 2020, during lockdown, that I set up The HummingBirds charity. I was in contact with Mr Ramocan shortly after to share my progress and to hopefully get his support. The High Commissioner was delighted with what I had done and the progress I had made, and was more than happy to support us in any way he could! A couple of years later, I asked him if I could have an interview with him to capture his support and a message about/for the charity - He said yes! The interview with him was a first for The HummingBirds; it was planned, with a professional cameraman, tripods and microphones. Prior to this, we had used our mobile phones to record or capture things, but this was a different level; this was professional! This new experience for the charity didn’t run as smoothly as I would have liked, having timing, technical and logistical issues. Through all the difficulties, Mr Ramocan remained helpful, patient and positive, and when we got him in front of the camera, he was exemplary. It was as if he enjoyed what The HummingBirds are doing, enjoyed getting his messages out there, and there was a feeling of familiarity, as if he had been interviewed a thousand times before.
In July 2022, we recorded our first interview. It has taken nearly a year for the video to be made and published. By the time it was, Mr Ramocan was no longer the Jamaican High Commissioner, after fulfilling that role for more than five years. Why did it take us so long? Because editing a video is not easy or straight forward. I was keen for the video produced to be of a certain level, to be professional, to reflect the work and status of the High Commissioner. That led to me being in contact with numerous editors, starting with the videographer who recorded the interview. I felt what he produced was not to the standard I was after and that if things were not to that standard, that it would almost be disrespectful to the HC. After him, there were six other editors that I spoke to, leading to problem after problem. Communication was a surprisingly common problem. It would often take a long time and multiple messages or calls from me before I would hear something back. Sometimes I was waiting weeks to hear back from someone who said I would hear from them in a few days. Someone disappeared off the planet; I did not hear anything back from them, and their number stopped working. Someone took the project, started it and then gave it back as they went to do something else. Someone quoted near £1,000. Someone started, completed a few drafts and then pulled the plug, giving me a refund as they did. The problems were varied, but everyone I spoke to and maybe started with, seemed to reach a problem.
I needed to find a solution for the video not being edited and produced. The common saying ‘if you want something done, do it yourself’ rang true. It got to a point when I chose to do it myself. But what do I know about editing? Nothing more than the few short videos I had used my phone to record. As a postgraduate, I went back to Roehampton University to ask questions. Fortunately, I was pointed in the right direction, told where to go and who to speak to. Roehampton University have a fantastic media department, with experienced technicians. Speaking to those in that department, they helped me to get hold of recommended software and gave me a crash course in using it. When I thought I was getting somewhere, I encountered a problem with the footage. That took me back to the University, where they explained and helped me again. From there, it was all on me and just about what I could put together. I admit, I made a good few trips to the University, probably enough for them to roll their eyes when they saw me coming!
I managed to put something together that I am relatively happy with. In my mind, I needed to produce something that the BBC would be happy to use. Thinking like that affected the graphics I used, the font I used, how much music I used and when. I learnt about transitions and tried to keep these BBC interview/documentary worthy. I learnt about ‘B Roll', and tried to interpret my use of it, still thinking about the BBC. I tried to be clear in my mind what the video was to do and for who. The video is to show the support the Jamaican High Commissioner has for The HummingBirds and its ambitions for developing sport in Jamaica, specifically. The video is aimed at anyone who would watch it, but I designed it thinking about the older demographic, who are likely to have more of an interest in politics. For that reason, I avoided more music, graphics and animations, thinking “how would the BBC present a short interview of the Mayor of London?”. I did not want his interview to look like it’s a long social media video, but pressure from a couple of the Trustees led to me editing a short version, with the intention of it being used on social media to get some of the message across and to promote the full interview (you can find that version on our Instagram account).
It is difficult learning how to fly, even being the size of a hummingbird, but we are getting there. The next video will not take anywhere near as long to complete and there will not be the sound issues there are in this one; more lessons learnt. Getting this interview and learning to edit myself, is another big step taken for the charity. The HummingBirds gives a very big thank you to the High Commissioner, Mr Ramocan for his time and support. I must thank Mark Lever of Roehampton University for his continued patience, all the help he gave me in learning how to edit and with the editing. This is another experience that has added fuel to our fire and more wind beneath our wings. Maybe more importantly, it is a key to another door and a new branch that we have reached.
Let's All Play!