On June 1, 1934, in the village of Bon Accord, Tobago (part of the Twin Island Republic), a daughter was born to Martha Chapman and Joshua Sandy. They named her Victoria after the Queen of England. She was the 5th of nine children born to the couple. As Victoria grew, her round face and big, hearty laugh earned her the nick name Bella, because she was like a bell, making a loud sound.
Bella loved learning and expanding her education. At first she thought she would pursue a career in nursing, but after a minor accident, when she saw her own blood she realized that was definitely not her calling.
She worked with her father in his store and that’s where she learned the basic principles of business: hard work, diligence, mental arithmetic to calculate sales in her head, and how to communicate with people of all backgrounds. She loved it all and excelled in it all.
After she graduated from Bon Accord Moravian School, Victoria moved to Trinidad to further her education. In the process of time she entered the field of optics and after 15 years she gained favor with her employer at Alkin’s Opticians in Port of Spain. He recognized her zeal and ambition for higher learning in optometry and was able to convince the administrators at the renowned company of Bausch and Lomb Optical of New York to offer her a place in their School of Optics. She enrolled in the school and graduated with honors and later became one of the company’s Quality Control Inspectors.
Victoria pursued her dream while being a devoted wife and mother. She was married to Garnet St. Clair, a member of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Force. Her children are Dr Wendy Crenshaw, Gregory St. Clair, an electrical engineer, and Kathy Mewa, a billing analyst. She never forgot the son who was stillborn.
Her life’s journey led her to meet many people in different places and circumstances of need. Her eyes were open and her ears heard keenly the cries for help from the weak, broken and unfortunate. Her faith in God is the bedrock of her life, and her purpose for everything she does.
Because of this deep abiding fear of the Lord, and faithfulness to His summons on her life, she has responded to the call to help others in trouble. She has interceded for those needing medical care, education, food, prayer, and encouragement from a friend. She is tireless and persistent. She loves people and always seeks to restore their life, hope and dignity.
Many years ago while on a visit home to Tobago, she encountered a child who was born with severe bow legs. She contacted his parents and found out that they could not afford the cost of corrective surgery. She decided then and there that she would find a way to help them.
After four years, Victoria returned to Tobago with the funds for the boy’s surgery. After 14 hours of surgery, the doctor informed the anxious family that the operation was a success. He said that without the surgery, the child would have become a cripple in five more years. Victoria later paid for the young man’s college education, and he is now a civil servant in the Tobago government.
Victoria remembered the passage of scripture which says, “Cast your bread upon the waters and one day it will return back to you.” She remains grateful for the good results in this young man’s life.
When she accepts an assignment, she is diligent to stick with the task until it is completed. She knows how to encourage others and enlist their support to unite with her in efforts in helping others. As a result many have joined with her in partnership to reach across the world and bring assistance to people in places as distant as Ghana, West Africa.
In 1995, Victoria visited Ghana as part of a tour group. While there she saw young children in a makeshift school, which was actually a cow barn. The children were sitting on the floor with just paper and pencil in front of them. The desire to educate these children inspired her to enlist the aid of family and friends to raise funds for the little school.
Years later, a new school was built and renamed: The Victoria St. Clair Academy. There are now 172 children enrolled in the new, fully equipped school in Ghana. At the school she is known as Mama Vicki. She is Aunty Vic to her many nieces and nephews, Mummy to her three children and Bella to her brothers and sisters and her lifelong friends who grew up with her in Trinidad and Tobago
Wherever she sees a need, in whatever country, Victoria St.Clair reaches out to help. For this reason she is known as the woman with “Hands Across the World”.
Her other achievements include her service as: Chaplain at the Bishop Hucles Nursing Home for 25 years; President of the St Gabriel’s Episcopal Church Women’s Association, (better known as the ECW); President of the Winthrop St Block Association for 25 years; and Vice president of the Susan McKinney Nursing Home Auxiliary Department for 6 years.
Many years ago when she visited her family in Tobago, she saw how her elderly mother spent her days sitting idly in front of the house. She had no activities or stimulation to improve her quality of life. After serving as a Chaplain to elderly people she knew that this was not a good way to live from day to day. She then decided to build a senior center for the community and the country. It would be a place where there would be various stimulating activities and medical attention if needed. Health forums and different kinds of educational events could be held there. The center is now fully furnished and ready for operation even with outdoor activities.
Victoria’s plea to God is for Him to continue to bless her so that she can be a blessing to others. We are certain He has heard her plea!