Farewell, Christine Ann Bell
Yesterday, we gave back to the Creator a life that we owed, in Christine Ann Bell.
The celebration of her life through music, dance, drama, worship, and of course, laughter in Rev Sam McCook's Hope Fellowship Church, St Andrew, was rich and powerful — as befitting the complex but beautiful persona which was Miss Bell, the hard-nosed journalist and consummate public relations expert.
In an era where information rules, image is everything. And in the fiercely competitive, often cut-throat globalised marketplace where everything, from a pin to an anchor, must sell urgently, the superior creators of image and manufacturers of spin seem indispensable.
Top public relations practitioners, like Christine Bell, maintained a safe distance from the perception that PR experts are spin doctors, amoral types who paper over cracks and try to freshen up even foul odour. Miss Bell's type of PR practice was about bridging the gap between clients and their publics. And Christine Bell was so good at it, she might have been born to this end, except that it could be argued that she did so many other things well.
When she left her high-energy, low-paying journalism job to pursue her talent in public relations, Miss Bell set up Innovative Ideas and fashioned the company to stay on the cutting edge of image-creation. Small, fit and vibrant, the company quickly captured the imagination of corporate Jamaica where the hunger for credibility is surpassed only by the need to make profits. And sometimes the two are inseparable.
It helps, doesn't it, to be pretty, articulate and bright. Miss Bell added to that a discipline and a confidence forged in rural Manchester by parents who cared deeply.
When she left high school in 1972, it was to journalism that she first turned to express the passion in her bosom. And even when she left for the more lucrative field of public relations in 1976, beginning at Public Relations Associates, she served her former colleagues by fostering training opportunities and encouraging excellence in journalism through the much-coveted Fair Play Awards sponsored by her client, Jamaica Broilers.
In her several lives, Miss Bell conquered the stage with a career that demands an entire résumé of its own, and including several top awards for outstanding performances, such as her 2000 'Best Actress in a Lead Role' title in Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun. She was equally comfortable on screen, most noteworthy as the infuriatingly naïve Rose Madden in Lennie Little-White's soap opera, Royal Palm Estate aired on CVM-TV.
Radio audiences will remember the popular drama, Beverley Heights, which she co-wrote for RJR, as well as the JBC's Uptown Downtown and the JIS Radio's Barnsville Gap.
Not ever satisfied with taking only, she gave back to the dramatic arts by founding the Jamaica Association for Dramatic Artists.
And Christine Bell had a heart for the vulnerable, giving and giving to Claudette Pious' Children First organisation to boost health and educational opportunities for the young ones.
Yesterday they all came to say thanks and to celebrate a beautiful life well lived. Farewell, Christine.