Professor Henry FraserArchitecural Historian / Heritage Consultant
Chairman, Sentinel Committee, Barbados National Trust
Writer, TV Presenter, National Orator & Motivational Speaker
Professor Emertius, Medicine and Clinical Pharmacology.
Immediate Past Dean, Faculty of Medical Sciences.
University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados.


Article Index


Chancellor, rarely does a single shop shape and symbolise a city, but there is no doubt that Cave Shepherd has done just that for Bridgetown over the past 100 years.  And the man who shaped and symbolised this icon of our city in the last forty of those 100 years is Ronald Geoffrey Cave, CBE, BCH.

His grandfather was Rupert George Cave, who went to work as a cash boy at Harrison’s  in 1884 at 14.  He co-founded Cave Shepherd and Company in 1906, with its byline “The Ideal Store” and its motto “The customer is always right”.  R.G.’s son Maurice steered the ship from 1934 until 1970, when Geoffrey took over, at 28, at exactly the same age his father took the helm.

Geoffrey was well prepared.  As a boarder at that illustrious institution in the republic of St. John – The Lodge School – he learnt discipline and the balance between work and play.  He earned a Bachelor of Commerce at McGill, returning home in 1963 to join the Cave Shepherd Team, and to marry his wife Anne. Six years later, on December 10th, 1969, the store was gutted by fire, and his life changed dramatically.  

To their surprise and the surprise of most Bajans, then and now, their bank refused them a loan to rebuild!  The result, as they say, is history.  Cave Shepherd launched a historic Initial Public Offering in 1971, with great success.  Two thousand shareholders invested 40% of the capital, while staff members purchased 100,000 shares and another 100,000 were given to the staff “in appreciation of past services”.  It’s said that at a meeting with staff Geoffrey explained that the co-founder Mr. Shepherd had sold his 40 % of shares because he had no children to inherit, and so he told the new shareholders they were the new Shepherds of the company.  Quick as a flash, a quiet, elderly shareholder shot back: “We’re following your lead, so we must be the sheep”!  

And so a family business morphed into a public company, and it never looked back.  When his father died in ‘75 he took over as Chairman, and led a major expansion, with outlets all over Barbados and beyond, and diversification into tourism and financial services – from Bridgetown icon to Caribbean icon!

But the remarkable aspect of our Honorary Graduand’s life, Chancellor, is his approach to business.  His rule – his litmus test of a business proposal - is always: “Will it benefit Barbados?”  And imbued with the strongest possible sense of social responsibility and “giving back” by his father, his life and the life of Cave Shepherd is one of giving – from simple charity to every kind of sponsorship  – preserving the environment, saving someone in trouble, or just connecting people – in fact someone said when he was made Commander of the British Empire, CBE, that it stood for “Connector of Beings Everywhere”.  But do note, Chancellor, that in order for him to solve everyone else’s problems outside of home, he relies on his wife, his handy Anne, to solve all of HIS problems, inside the home.  It’s even been rumoured that she once received a tool box for her birthday!

Henry Fraser Historic Houses Of Barbados Book CoverHistoric Houses of Barbados
Written by Henry Fraser & Ronnie Huges.
Available at all book leading book stores in Barbados.

Henry Fraser Treasures Of Barbados Book CoverTreasures of Barbados
Written by Sir George Alleyne and edited by Henry Fraser.
Available at the UWI Bookshop the publishers.

Henry Fraser Chattle House Book CoverBarbados Chattel Houses
Written by Henry Fraser and Bob Kiss.
Available at all leading book stores.

Henry Fraser A-Z Barbados Book CoverA-Z of Barbados Heritage
Written by Sean Carrington, Henry Fraser, John Gilmore and Addington Forde.
Available at Days Bookstore Barbados and

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