September 2, 1973 – Keithly Athill Jr was born to Keithly Athill Snr.(Gray’s Hill) and Helena Geraldine Shaw-Athill (Barbuda) in St. Croix, USVI. His early childhood years were spent in the Point/Villa area where he began his education at the Gefadem School in Villa. He later relocated to Gray’s Hill where he began attending Miss Martin’s Private School before moving on to Greenbay Primary School in 1983. In 1986, he began his secondary education at Ottos Comprehensive School (OCS).
Growing up, Athill recalls cricket as being his favourite sport and this led to him playing for his school as well as going on to playing for the Dredgers Sports Club for approximately 20 years. His involvement in cricket afforded him the opportunity to go on many tours to countries such as the United States (New York) and Trinidad & Tobago, and he represented Antigua and Barbuda in a regional soft ball cricket tournament as well.
Another interest that Athill is known for is playing pan. This interest came about during his time at OCS. After taking a break for quite a while following secondary school, he resumed playing in 2004 with the Hellsgate Steel Orchestra, where he specialised in playing triple guitar, under the influence of Stafford Joseph and captain at the time, Veron Henry.
During his time with the Hellsgate, Athill served 6 years as vice captain before rising to his current post of captain in 2017. He points out that this experience has helped him to become more receptive to varying personalities in individuals since he had to learn how to combine differences in personalities into achieving one common and positive goal and this is displayed when they are playing together. Some notable accomplishments he has experienced by being a part of Hellsgate Steel Orchestra include being able to expand the band’s membership over the years as well as representing the twin island state at Carifesta on a number of occasions and having the most panorama championships since the competition restarted in the early 2000’s.
Being involved in pan and, more specifically, being a part of the Hellsgate Steel Orchestra, has afforded Athill a platform through which he can contribute towards youth development. He notes that the orchestra gives ‘youngsters both in the community and further afield the opportunity to learn the artform and be a part of our organisation no matter what background they are from’. Athill and his team demonstrate their commitment to the youth in their care by offering them guidance and mentorship as well as inviting resource persons to interact with the young people on various topics such as leadership.
Though there has been much success in the arena, Athill is concerned about the lack of a proper pan lab in the country to help develop talent and prepare them for the next level as well as most of the steelbands in the country not having their own panyard. He believes that there needs to be greater collaboration between the steelband association, Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Tourism in making the artform more visible in various sites and activities across the island.
Outside of his work with pan, Athill is a trained Automotive Technician who has completed courses in vehicle computer diagnosis and computer programming.. His interest in cars was fostered by his dad who was a mechanic as well. From an early age, Athill’s father began training him in all areas of mechanical and electronic engineering and this inspired him to continue to further himself in the field. Today, he operates his own company; Athill’s Auto Repairs, where he specialises in repairing all American, Japanese and European vehicles such as Mercedes, Audi/Volkswagen and BMW, Just as his father would have done for him, Athill continues to take young persons under his wings, taking the time to train them in mechanical engineering during their school vacation.
Additionally, he continues to give back to the community by aiding the less fortunate with school supplies throughout the year. Athill credits his positive interactions within the wider community to the immense influence of individuals such as Robin Bascus Snr, James Jarvis, Sir Andy Roberts, Stafford Joseph as well as his father.