West Indies cricketer, Irving Boach Shillingford, 78, died 26 January 2023
West Indies cricketer, Irving Boach Shillingford, 78, died 26 January 2023

Eulogy: Irving "Boach" Shillingford (April 18, 1944, to January 26, 2023)

My father was born on April 18, 1944, to Iris Placid and Cuthbert Shillingford in the village of Dublanc.

I am told he was an overly energetic and playful kid. He would later become a well-known icon, not just of cricket, but of sports in general.

He was always happy, with the broadest smile and an exploding laugh you could hear for miles on. He worked hard at everything he did, stayed true to conviction, and was respectful, humble, and sometimes even shy.

Daddy came from a large family and always loved being around people. As a child, on many occasions, I witnessed simple house visits of family and friends turned into impromptu gatherings filled with drinks, laughter and hours of discussion, especially over sports.

Daddy met the love of his life Elizabeth, my mother, during his early sporting years and in 1973, they wedded. He nicknamed her 'Liz', and together they had four of us, three girls and one boy. We would later be introduced to eight other siblings on daddy's side. Daddy was big on family, and he ensured that growing up, we all stayed close to each other and looked out for one another as far as possible. Growing up with him was not always fun and games. Back in those days, chores were many, and all had to be completed by a certain time and in a certain way. Daddy taught us some tough lessons, his discipline was militant, but he loved us all the same. He celebrated birthdays, Christmas, New Year, and every other occasion in between, even after some of us moved overseas to school and work.

However, the most heartening experience we witnessed over the years was the relationship between our parents. The way they loved each other despite everything. They had great fun and travelled a lot together. He would call on 'Liz' for any and everything. All of us kids would laugh at the Tesponse every single time,.." yes, Irving; what is it?. We laughed the hardest when he would watch her and smile because he wanted nothing; he was just used to calling Liz. This year would have marked their 50th wedding anniversary. These last two years, we all watched her love and care for him to the end. He was also an avid hunter of wildlife, and when not on the field, he could be found in the hills with his rifle.

This was the person that we, his family, shared with Dominica and the region. Today, as we prepare to take him to his final place of rest, we pause to recognise his contribution to sports and community.

'Boach,' as he was commonly known, became the master blaster at an early age. His parents instilled in him the importance of a sound education, and with self-confidence, he established his prowess with grit and intellect. At the age of fifteen, he played for the senior side of Dublanc, and at age seventeen, he excelled in the Windwards Tournament. His family and friends still hold vivid memories of these moments.

With this record, from a very young age, many advocated for his selection to the West Indies team and remained convinced that his selection to the West Indies Cricket team was unfairly delayed. However, daddy remained committed to the game and never complained, hopeful that his turn would one day come...and it did come.

When he was eventually selected, he scored a century in his first foray. History has recorded him as the first and only Dominican to score a century in West Indies test cricket. He will forever be remembered as a cricketing hero. Daddy also played club cricket in England but never stayed too long, as his heart was with the West Indies Team.

According to one of his close friends, 'Boach's' vision for Dominica, Windwards and West Indies cricket was immeasurably sacrosanct as he played a huge role in ensuring that the benefits filtered down to embrace cricket as the main sport for the youths in Dominica, and he did provide the platform. He played a major role in uplifting the youths in his home community of Dublanc and Colihaut and contributed his skills to club cricket, and nurtured many young cricketers who played for Dominica.

Daddy's involvement in his community continued throughout his life, and the community benefitted by having such an illustrious and internationally respected son of the soil among them. In addition, his ability to recognise young talent and guide them to becoming competent and successful individuals has greatly benefited many communities in Dominica.

This day, Irving "Boach" Shillingford is remembered for his leadership qualities, having captained the Dominica National Team, the Windward Islands Team and the Combined Islands Team. He played a leading role in various sports clubs, including the Spartans Sports Club and the Cavaliers Sports Club and served on the Dominica Cricket Association. He worked as a Youth Officer and Sports Officer and, in these roles, imparted knowledge and skills to young people all over the island.

He loved cricket. Even though his non-selection on the West Indies Test Cricket Team until very late in his career, he served as an inspiration and motivation to many sports personalities, especially the Windward and Leeward Islands youth. His determination to excel while not receiving the recognition he deserved speaks volumes for his resilience and tenacity.

His love for his family, cricket and fans will live on.

Rest in peace, Daddy. Rest in perfect peace. Love, Lynn