Photography by Julie Chalbaud

On a cool Friday afternoon in the St Thomas countryside, a bevy of charitable ladies turned out in their finery for a good cause, to support the Know Me Love Me Foundation’s Vintage Tea Party fundraiser at Fisherpond Great House. Owned by John Chandler and his wife Rain, this stately home is an exemplary example of old world charm, with its unique Barbadian architecture and period furniture which made Fisherpond the perfect location for an event such as this.

A busy morning had seen a hive of activity as this traditional Barbadian Plantation home was decorated with vintage-style decorations, swaths of flowing white material and theme props, while the gorgeous gardens were utilised to their fullest potential and fabulous flower arrangements were the centrepiece on each table. Tiered stands were full to the brim with exquisitely decorated cupcakes, pastries and French macarons and each place setting featured beautifully designed menus and gorgeous antique tea cups and saucers in a variety of designs and styles.

At 3pm, a sea of ladies in hats, gloves, pearls and lace began to arrive and were greeted at the door with a Victorian style paper fan and ushered through the house (catching eager glimpses of the table décor along the way) into the lush gardens where a refreshing glass of Minted Blueberry lemonade awaited. Guests were encouraged to peruse the wonderful selection of generously donated items on display – including a Caribbean Cruise, a weekend in St Lucia, stunning jewellery, beautiful outfits, spa treatments, event tickets and more. 

Everyone wandered happily around the verdant surroundings, serenaded by the talented Debbie Reifer performing an acoustic set. As her dulcet tones wafted through the ferns and orchids, more guests arrived, ladies milled around, chatting with friends and making decisions on which items they would bid for. Roberta, Lady Simpson graciously welcomed everyone and shared some of her experiences visiting the schools and children’s homes to donate backpacks. She then introduced her grandson Rafael (‘Rafi’, as he is affectionately known) who shared the Know Me Love Me story.

The name of the Charity he founded was inspired by one of his friends who had traveled to Africa and met an orphan boy. When asked if he could have anything he wanted what would it be, his answer was simple…”For people to know I exist, and I want to be loved.” Education would be the tool to bring about change for so many ‘forgotten’ children.

The aim of the Know Me Love Me Foundation is to give children the tools to achieve their academic dreams, delivering backpacks filled with educational materials to children who cannot purchase them. “Often the little materials, the trivial items we take for granted, are the very things that stop children from getting an education. It is the notepads, pencils, crayons, rulers, and erasers that can make the difference to a child going to school embarrassed because they don’t have a pencil, notebook or a schoolbag, to a child having the confidence to go forward each day with the supplies that they need.”

Education has the biggest impact on the lives of those in need - it has the power to free people trapped by poverty, gives hope for a successful future, provides physical shelter and care for children and can change the future for an entire village. 

In 2013, the Know Me Love Me Foundation supported children in Barbados through the donation of backpacks filled with such supplies, visiting schools and children’s homes island wide to meet the children and staff to determine what additional support they can directly give to ensure that children in Barbados benefit from the life-changing opportunity that education can give them.

Headmistress of St. Margaret’s Primary, Glendene Hayde had this to say about the work that Roberta, Lady Simpson has carried out on behalf of the Know Me Love Me Foundation in Barbados; “Kind, caring and considerate are just some of the words we use to describe Lady Simpson. Just over two years ago she visited St. Margaret’s Primary to introduce one of her books. The students captured her heart and since then she has been finding ways to enhance their learning experiences. Her inspiring words at Morning Assembly, her participation in Reading Week as well as travelling from her home with six puppies to help enrich the Science curriculum shows her dedication to these students. Thank you Lady Simpson.”

Master of Ceremonies for the afternoon, the inimitable John Chandler, brought everyone together to sit down at the tables as the wait staff poured steaming cups of tea and served both sweet and savoury morsels. Conversation flowed to the sound of the grand piano, creating a lovely ambiance. Honouring the theme of the event, gifts were given for the ‘Best Costume’ Angela Simpson, along with a random draw for surprise door prizes; ’Best Head-piece, fascinator’ Gina Cummins and ‘Most Pearls’ Susan Reid which elicited much laughter from the crowd. 

The event was a tremendous success – and after the tables were cleared and the china washed and put carefully away, the organisers were thankful to not only those who attended, but also to those who made generous donations including: Foster & Ince Cruise Services, Angela Simpson, Hotel Boucan St. Lucia, Gina Hunte, CEI Caribbean, Island Bags, Diamonds International, Going Places Travel, ButterflyBoutiqueBarbados.com, Dolly’s, The Crane Hotel, R& R Cruising, The Cliff Restaurant, Dwellings, Champers Restaurant, Silver Moon Catamaran, Barbados Golf & Country Club, Ryall Fitness, Simpson Motors Ltd, Relish Fresh Café at Simpson Motors, Sol Barbados Ltd, Ela Boutique, Coral Reef Club Spa, Platinum Wines & Andre Williams; the caterers and florists who provided sumptuous delights and gorgeous floral arrangements: Cin Cin Restaurant, Sweet Temptations, Corbins Catering, Anna Went Catering, Simply Flowers and SSMJ Orchids, and of course John and Rain Chandler.

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