Barbara B. Barrett C. M., O.NL

As printed in the
Huddersfield Daily ExamierJan 22, 2008
Guide to Newfoundland

By Adrian Sudbury
Submitted by Annetta Fulford

BARBARA Barrett is a woman of distinction in Newfoundland.

She arrived there as a war bride in 1946 and has gone on to gain distinction as a theatre director, drama teacher and adjudicator.

All this time she gave sterling service to the Guiding movement, including service as area commissioner for Western Newfoundland.

We reported back in 1996 how Barbara received the Order of Canada for community service spanning 50 years.

It was an honour which involved travelling to Canadian capital Ottawa for the ceremony at which she was presented with the award.

Now Barbara has recently been invested with another award – the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador, the highest that can be given by the province.

It’s a long journey from the days when she was an air raid warden in Huddersfield during the Second World War.

In those times she lived in Fartown and went to Greenhead High School for Girls.

It was while working as a Land Girl in North Yorkshire that she met and fell in love with Flight Lieutenant Arthur Barrett of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

The rest, as they say, is history.

They were married in the UK during the war and now live in St John’s, capital of Newfoundland.

Barbara, now 85, went to Woodhouse Junior and Infant School before going on to Greenhead and then Huddersfield Technical College, where she passed exams with honours in languages and biology.

Since travelling across the Atlantic, she has devoted the past 61 years to volunteering and sharing her expertise in the realm of theatre arts.

She has been involved in more than 1,000 theatre performances during all those years.

"She is considered the matriarch of Newfoundland and Labrador theatre," said Edward Roberts, the province’s Lieutenant Governor, at her recent award presentation.

"Her efforts have not only inspired the creation of various theatre groups, she has introduced many young people to the world of theatre.

"Under her mentorship, countless young artists have learned to build sets, read scripts, display and control emotions and communicate with large groups.

"It goes without saying that her lifelong relationship with the theatre has been a driving force in the development of the vibrant acting community this province boasts today."

As a writer, she compiled a syllabus on public speaking for the air cadets and was commissioned in 1985 to write and direct a performance marking the 75th anniversary of Guiding in Canada.

She co-edited a book about the lives of war brides and has recently published another, called Theatre - My Other Love Affair.

As a Guider she was captain of the first air ranger company in Newfoundland and also found time to teach English as a second language.

And that’s not all – she has presided at citizenship courts, administering an oath of allegiance to the Queen to more than 500 new Canadian citizens.

Barbara frequently returns to Huddersfield to visit friends and relatives, including cousins Elsie Eastwood and Keith Micklethwaite.

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