Basseterre, St. Kitts, January 23, 2020 (S.T.E.P.) — Management, staff and participants at the Skills Training Empowerment Programme (STEP), are mourning the death of Director Mr Wendell Wattley that occurred in the early hours of Monday January 20.
“On behalf of the management and the workers at the STEP office and the workers on STEP in general, I would like to express my deepest sympathy to the wife and family of Mr Wendell Wattley, who worked at the STEP office as the Director for a period of time,” said Mr Osbert DeSuza, Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for STEP.
Mr Wendell Wattley who had a long career in the teaching profession, and worked at the General Post Office rising to the position of Post Master General, joined the Skills Training Empowerment Programme as its director on August 1, 2017.
STEP’s Quality Assurance Coordinator/Consultant, Mr Emile Greene, who is acting as the STEP Director has on behalf of the entire office, management and staff, STEP participants/trainees and employers sent out a message of condolences to the family of the late Mr Wendell Wattley.
“I would like to extend our sincere sympathy to the family and close friends of Mr Wendell Wattley who served here as the Director of STEP,” said Mr Greene. “All of us here at STEP we were very saddened to hear the news about his passing and like most of the country we were very much in shock. He served here at STEP since August 2017, and therefore on behalf of all of us in the organisation, I would like to say to the family our sympathy and you will be in our prayers. It is a very sad moment for us as well.”
Office Manager at STEP, Mrs Agatha Caines, shared fond memories of the many years she had known and worked with Mr Wattley from the days he was a teacher, at the General Post Office, and lately at the STEP office.
“I had known Mr Wattley from the early years when he taught at the Boys’ School as my son was attending the Maurice Hillier School,” said Mrs Caines. “He then went to the Irish Primary School as a head. Somewhere around 1995 he came to the Post Office where I was a staff member at that time. We worked together for a period of time before I was transferred into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”
Mrs Caines who first worked as the Office Manager for the then People Employment Programme (PEP), and continued in the same position when it was transformed into Skills Training Empowerment Programme, was pleasantly surprised when Mr Wendell Wattley joined STEP as its Director on August 1, 2017.
“It was easy for him and I to work together,” said Mrs Caines. “And yes, he has had his own way and own style of managing and doing things, but he meant well. So I was very saddened on Monday morning when I came in the office and I was told he passed. These things happen – we come, we go – we do not know how and when. As Office Manager, on behalf of the STEP staff, and the participants in general, the general public, the persons who are part of the STEP as employers, we are very saddened over the sudden passing of Mr Wendell Wattley.”
Among Mr Wattley’s major accomplishments as the Director of STEP included the integration of persons living with disabilities into the government-sponsored national training programme, when trainees at Ade’s Place in Greenland which is a safe haven for adults living with disabilities were in September 2017 taken on board as STEP trainees.
“This is a dramatic shift in focus of the Skills Training Empowerment Programme (STEP) towards training and assisting persons with and without disability,” Mr Wattley was quoted saying in December 2017. “We at STEP are equal opportunity trainers. No one in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis will be left behind irrespective of the circumstances in which they find themselves.”