Eddy DeMello – trailblazing advocate for the Portuguese

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Eddy DeMello was a young boy who couldn’t speak any English when he arrived in Bermuda from the Azores in 1949.

He was immediately plunged into the deep end at Dellwood School, and within a couple of years was withdrawn from education to help his father work on a farm.

Still, Mr DeMello went on to play a huge role helping shape the island’s cultural evolution over several decades.

President of Vasco da Gama Club in Hamilton for 17 years, he was a prominent advocate for the Portuguese on issues such as immigration and their language to be introduced to schools.

He was also a leading entrepreneur and entertainment promoter and producer, bringing a host of international acts, including Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder, to Bermuda, and running the popular Music Box record store across the road from the Vasco club.

During Mr DeMello’s early years, in the face of prejudice from locals, it was common for Portuguese people to play down their ancestry, and try to blend into the Bermuda community.

Mr DeMello, however, worked tirelessly to keep alive Portuguese traditions and promote Azorean culture.

He became an interpreter for the courts – helping Portuguese nationals struggling to deal with officialdom. He also hosted a long-running Portuguese-language radio show, and served on the Portuguese Cultural Centre Committee.

Early in the 21st century, he was a member of the Coalition for Long-Term Residents, which won permanent residency status on behalf of hundreds of long-term residents, mainly from the Azores and the Caribbean.

Among his numerous awards in honour of his contribution to the Portuguese community, Mr DeMello was made a knight Commander of the Order of Prince Henry, and received the Queen’s Certificate and Badge of Honour twice.

Eddy DeMello died in 2013, aged 75.

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