Beloved janitor to get national honour
For 42 years, Melton Bascoe has been a familiar face at the Ocean Village Shopping Centre in St Ann, where he is responsible for keeping the grounds clean.
Armed with a leaf blower, rake, broom and gardening tools, he carries out his daily tasks, which include clearing trash and litter, removing weeds, and carrying out general ground maintenance. His job is to ensure that the facilities are clean, safe and aesthetically pleasing for users of the retail and commercial complex, which was built in 1972 by the Urban Development Corporation (UDC). It is managed and operated by the Ocho Rios Commercial Centre, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the UDC.
On National Heroes Day, October 16, Bascoe will be presented with the Badge of Honour for Long and Faithful Service, at the National Honours and Awards Ceremony at King's House. The 61-year-old is beloved by his colleagues at the UDC, who nominated him for his hard work and dedication.
The National Honour is a fitting reward for Mr Bacsoe's unwavering dedication and commitment to his job. His remarkable journey with the UDC began in 1978, when he was employed at the Ocean Village complex for a weekly wage of $26. Dissatisfied with the level of compensation, he left after just three months, but life had other plans for him. Faced with financial hardship, Bascoe returned, where he was given two weeks of work.
He told JIS News that he had borrowed $1 for his bus fare to apply for the job, which was initially intended to be a temporary solution. As the weeks turned into months, Bascoe's determination and work ethic kept him going, even while others left. With no indication from his superiors that he should stop working, he continued on the job.
It was Maintenance Manager Winston Green, who recognised Bascoe's steadfast commitment and extended his tenure.
"Mr Green, some months later, came to me to say, 'You're still here? How?'. I said, 'What do you mean if I'm still here? You guys pay me every week.' He said 'Oh, alright. Go ahead until I stop you' and that's how I ended up in the company for the past 42 years," Bascoe laughed.
He would begin his day long before his 7 a.m. start time, arriving at the workplace between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. to get the grounds ready for the public. He took immense pride in his work and gladly assisted with various tasks, even beyond his official work hours, and went the extra mile by running errands for the office.
Bascoe's dedication did not go unnoticed. A manager who recognised his potential sent him for training in literacy and supervisory skills, empowering him to take on additional responsibilities and further enhancing his contribution to the company. Over the years, Bascoe's role has evolved.
"I can do supervisory work now because I have experience," he added. The job with the UDC has enabled Bascoe to provide a better future for his four children, who are all gainfully employed in law enforcement, healthcare, hospitality and merchandising.
As he approaches retirement age, Bascoe remains determined to continue serving as long as his health permits. He expressed appreciation for the national honour and thanked his manager and colleagues for their support and encouragement.
"My manager, Angela Strudwick, is a very nice lady. She is always ahead of time and very hard-working. Anything at all, she will do it because even with the garbage bins she would go downstairs and wash them, which is my job," Bascoe said. "Now, that really motivates me, and I want to tell her thanks for everything that she has done for me."
Strudwick said that Bascoe is deserving of the national honour.
"I must tell you that once Mr Bascoe is on duty, I do not have to worry. He really comes into work early [and carries out his duties]. So he is very reliable, you can depend on him and I'm extremely happy for him," she said.