Two weeks after the 70th birthday gala dinner party of pillar of the community, stalwart and activist Ms. Patsy Lake is still the dominant conversational topic by those who attended and those who heard so much about it. The confabulation is rather expected as many agree that the 17 January event at the Multi-purpose Sports Complex made history and was described by many as the party of the decade.
The Island Sun newspaper had the opportunity to sit with Ms. Lake and learn about the planning, organizing, but most of all her views on the numerous pleasantries, and flattering reviews of her impressive birthday celebration.
Ms. Lake’s daughter Suzanne Rhymer collaborated with her mother to organize and pull off the grand party that had a guest list of 600. In explaining the early thought process, Mrs. Rhymer said: “We wanted to do something very special for her making 70, and still coming out every day. Getting up every day is a milestone, and we just wanted to celebrate mommy in that way. We wanted to give her something grand.”
Deciding on details was easy for Suzanne who said that she just paid attention: “I just listened to what she wanted. She wanted a party! When I realised that it was going to be a very huge party, I realised I had to step up my game a little bit. I started doing my little research on what I think would be nice, and just came up with that idea,” she explained.
Suzanne said that the colour scheme was the easiest part of the planning as red is her mother’s favourite colour. Since everything was sourced locally, Suzanne said that the fact that the event occurred just after Christmas made red easily available.
Everything went as planned, and the Multipurpose Sports Complex was transformed into a majestic banquet hall. What a transformation it was! In fact the hanging chandeliers, twinkling lights, backdrops and wall to wall red carpet made the Complex unrecognizable.
Suzanne conceptualized the plan and worked with her mother to examine various details: “What blew me away the most was when a cousin of ours, who was in attendance that night, came and gave the first toast. She said that the place looked like when you walk into a banquet hall on a cruise ship. That’s when I really appreciated, because when you do something you know what it is going to look like. Maybe it doesn’t mean that much to you, because you know, but when people say to you — this is amazing — that’s when you realise that it really did look amazing,” Mrs. Rymer said.
Attention to detail and supporting local businesses as much as possible was a central theme for Ms. Lake and Mrs. Rhymer. In fact Suzanne said: “We tried to keep it all local, we did bring a few entertainers from outside. Entertainment included Harella Goodwin, Bridgette Blucher, and many local entertainers. There was a little dancing even though it went a little late. There was a little dancing afterwards. We had the Razor Blades playing outside and inside afterwards. It was really nice!”
“The evening was an evening of being entertained, enjoying and having a good time; not just a dinner. Everyone was served all night, and had entertainment while they were eating,” she noted.
Both Ms. Lake and Suzanne expressed thanks to all the persons who attended the party: “We want to say thank you to everyone for the love they showed to mommy, because you can be an invited guest and not come. We really appreciate everyone that did take time out of their busy schedule and came out to celebrate with mommy and it showed much love and we really appreciate,” Suzanne announced.
Ms. Lake said that she was also very touched by the response to her birthday: “Even those that weren’t invited called to express their love and appreciation for me as a community person; and how much I have given to the community…I was touched,” she said.
Both mother and daughter acknowledged the team who worked hard to make the night a success. Suzanne said: “It wasn’t me or my mom alone it was our whole team at One Stop Mall that joined together, held hands; and we did it all together. It was a whole team, everybody worked. We started setting up from Thursday.”
“Everybody wanted to pay tribute to Miss Lake even members of our staff…Every member of staff was an invited guest, so nobody worked that night. We brought in all the people to work the party. Our staff was able to sit down and celebrate with their boss her milestone birthday,” she added.
There were tears of joy on that night as popular BVI gospel artiste DeAnna Wattley did a rendition of Ms. Lake’s favourite hymn which moved her to tears. In recalling the moment, Suzanne said: “I think it was overwhelming for her. At one point, in the evening. Even though we had heard DeAnna Wattley sing before, she surprised mommy when she sang her favourite hymn which was ‘Great is Thy Faithfulness’ and it brought mommy to tears. She sang it so beautifully.”
“She is a faithful Christian woman that believes in God and He has blessed her in many ways, and she was able to give back and share that evening with friends, family and employees, and that was very important to her to be able to share that evening,” Ms. Rymer added. She hopes the event can serve as an example of some of the great things that are available in the BVI, and is advising persons to shop around for what they need on island first: “Anything that you want, you should always try to find it locally. If you support local businesses they will always try to offer more, because the more people that take part in the business they can extend, and expand their inventory.”
Ms. Lake said that she and Suzanne would be happy to assist anyone with creating a similar event: “Weddings, parties and whatever other functions we do that. We are into decorating we can do the whole package for you. We have been in this for years. The first grand event was Susie’s wedding… If we have to go back into the hall to do something for anyone we wouldn’t do it exactly like we did this we would give it a different twist and it would be just as elegant and pretty…” Ms. Lake said.
One invitee told The Island Sun that it is high time that the myriad of Mrs. Lake’s contributions to the Territory are officially recognized by the Government and commensurate honour bestowed on her.