November 6, 1962 – Mary-Claire Hurst was born in Villa Area, the 3rd child of Josephine Barthley from Liberta and the 11th child of Lionel Hurst Sr from Mongo Town, North Street. (the last child for them both). Her navel string is buried in Villa, No. 53 E A Stevens Street, as she was born in the third bedroom of the family home. Anecdotally, a newspaper was an integral part of her birth and is linked to her gift of gab.
Mary-Claire tells of the influence of her grandmother in her life as the Matriarch of the family alongside her mother as her dad fell seriously ill and eventually passed. Thus, his physical and financial influence waned. It was left to her mother and grandmother to raise her and her siblings.
The daughter of a politician her early days were spent very sheltered with much of her young life restricted to her small community, under the strict directions of her mother. The result was very close and tight network of friends restricted to a few streets (blocks) in the community and being under the close supervision of the adults in the community.
Her earliest education foundation was at Ms. Ruby (Ruby Dublin) preschool in Villa. Her primary schooling was at the Faith and Hope School first located on Newgate Street, then Bishopgate Steet until it closed. Another noteworthy recollection from Mary Clare was that Faith & Hope was the primary school of choice for many of the children of politicians at the time. The Birds, the Freelands, Hursts among others attended and would move after school to the AT&LU Union Hall around the corner on North Street where their fathers worked.
Mary-Clare attended the Princess Margaret School where she had a very active school life as a member of the Debating Team, a sub for Top of the Form team, a member of the Contemporary Dancers among many other school activities.
Ms. Hurst was actively involved in community life in the Villa Area. She served as owner of Speedy Joe Pioneers Basketball Club for over 10 years during the 1980’s. She was a part of the Villa Lions Club from age 16 and represented them on the Disciplinary Committee at Antigua Barbuda Football Association.
She was a national basketball player before moving into administration in the sport, serving as Chief Statistician for the Antigua & Barbuda Basketball Association (ABABA) for several years, as Assistant Secretary to ABABA and as Manager of the female national team of ABABA in the 1990s.
Mary-Claire is proud of her years as a Girl Guider, 2nd Antigua Robin Patrol.
Her professional life began after her return from the United States where she resided for a brief period before returning home to work at APUA for 6 months before joining the political campaign of Henderson Simon as his political secretary.
She worked 5 years at the Antigua Port Authority as secretary to the Chairman, before leaving for university (1990) in the US.
Hurst earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Management and Administration from the City College of the City University of New York and a Master of Science degree in Public Administration from Pacific Western University in California.
During her period in the USA, she worked as Administrator at the Mission of Antigua and Barbuda to the United Nations in New York. She also worked with specialised education services in the USA where she assisted students who were considered challenged to move to the High School Level.
Mary Clare was among those considered to be the ALP Candidate following the resignation of former Member of Parliament Henderson Simon, for the St. John’s City West Constituency given her strong community service portfolio in the Villa Area. Her love for her party and her keen appreciation and understanding of the politics, led her to choose to avoid placing the Branch into confrontation and she made no effort to capitalize on the possibility. She continued her studies before returning home just before the 2004 elections.
She would eventually return home after completing her studies and join Team City West becoming a lieutenant in that campaign team and eventually rising to General Secretary in the Antigua Barbuda Labour Party, the first female to hold the post. She previously served as General Secretary for the Youth Arm of the Labour Party.
With the return of ABLP to government in 2014, she was named as Senator and as Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of the Antigua Barbuda Port Authority (ABPA), the first female to be appointed Chair of the Port. In the party’s second term she was reappointed Senator and Leader of Government Business, Minister of State in Tourism and Investment.
Senator Hurst has led one of the most significant projects of Antigua and Barbuda’s continued economic development. Under her stewardship as Chairman of the ABPA she has led the port redevelopment project and begun the process of human resource development to keep pace with the transformation and continued execution of the strategic development of the Port as a major player in regional sea transportation services. Under her stewardship the Antigua and Barbuda Port Authority was awarded the Nova Port “Best Improved Port of 2016.”
Manager of the Antigua Barbuda Port Authority, Mr. Darwin Telemaque reflected on impact of Chairman Hurst on the port revitalization project. “Senator Hurst has been very supportive and engaging, with the bandwidth and willingness to support creativity and innovation. She has been integral in the process of the port redevelopment and a pivotal force behind the policy to create a one-stop shop for trade facilitation at the Port Authority.”
Senator Mary-Clare Hurst continues to serve as Senator in the ABLP Administration. She is a household name throughout Antigua and Barbuda and a powerhouse, the central anchor in her party. Outside of her immediate family she serves as a mother figure and for the many in her home community of Villa and beyond. She is also an entrepreneur, following another of her passions.