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A leader to be emulatedTribute by Volderine Hackett, Deputy Programme Manager, Communications Unit, CARICOM Secretariat  

February 27, 2020

As I reflect on Dereck Anthony Springer, professional, colleague and former manager, this saying vividly comes to mind:

Inspiration is sometimes needed to explain what cannot be explained”.

Stigma and discrimination in any form is inexplicable and Dereck’s fight to end it is nothing less than inspiring.

Dereck excited. Dereck stimulated. Dereck inspired. These are merely selected snapshots of his attributes.    I say a snapshot for I am unqualified to provide more, given the rich tapestry that is woven into Dereck Anthony Springer. But even if I were to try, I would not be able to capture more within the stipulated parameters of this medium.

So how and why did he stimulate and how did he excite? A peek at his character traits provides an understanding. Dereck is an Administrator par excellence who poured himself into establishing effective systems for dealing with the regional response to the HIV and AIDS epidemic.

When he took over as Director, he was undaunted by the state of play with respect to the uncertainty of the necessary resources to effectively sustain the response. His resoluteness, combined with his decisiveness, meticulousness, creativity and discipline, are his awesome traits. Passionate about the Partnership’s mission, he was scrupulous and unyielding in meeting deadlines. The intensity and honesty of the consultations with partners and the respect he demonstrated for their views, contributed in no small measure to the consolidation of the partnership in which all stakeholders had a voice in decision making. This was the essence by which he forged the bonds through agreements on the Caribbean Regional Strategic Frameworks, relentless endeavours at resource mobilisation and his passion to place the elimination of stigma and discrimination at the centre of PANCAP’s mission.

Dereck was self-assured and selfless. He undertook to complete whatever was started. In this regard, I recall vividly his work on the stigma and discrimination project proposal, which eventually resulted in the award of funding used for the Justice for All Programme. I remember also his faithfulness to continue the outreach to People Living with HIV and AIDS, through the provision of food and other items to the Food Bank of the National AIDS programme in Guyana and in the latter years, sometimes carrying a significant proportion of the cost of doing so.

His selfless service made him an exemplar among his peers and a person worthy of emulation. His was an undiluted commitment to achieving excellence.  Dedication to work, family, friends and colleagues is a part of who he is.  Never forgetting important occasions such as Valentine’s Day, Christmas and Mother’s Day. People matter to Dereck.

I could think of no fitting way to end this tribute to Dereck but by referring to the late Dr Myles Munroe’s statement in his book,  Purpose and Power of Authority: “True authority is not about having total control by “lording” it over others but about using the gifts you have been given to serve others”.

Dereck has and continues to use his gifts to serve. In the process, he has stimulated. He has inspired, and we who have had the privilege to know him are fortunate.  I salute you Dereck!  A great new chapter!