May 26, 1970 – Sylvester Henry, better known as “Socket”, was born on 26th May 1970 to Annella and Arthur Henry of the Point, the last of his parents’ nine children. Socket was considered to be the “baby” of the family and as such was very close to his parents. Some said he was the darling of the family.
In his youth, he attended the Villa Primary School and was an avid sportsman, under the tutelage of Mr. Dinson A. Parker (recently deceased) and Mr. Jules Benjamin. Socket ran track and field, preferring long distance events. He also played and excelled in football and represented the school and West Ham football club. But it was in softball cricket that he was at his most lethal and competitive. Many attribute this competitive spirit to the indomitable influence of Mr. Parker and Mr. Benjamin who acted as a teacher/coach at the school.
He played for a number of softball cricket teams, including Dredge Bay, Trent Bridge, and the Antigua Port Authority, and was for a long time considered to be the premier fast bowler in softball cricket in Antigua and Barbuda and the wider OECS region. This is evidenced by the fact that Socket won many, many awards for player of the match, bowler of the tournament, and player of the tournament. One tour to Trinidad & Tobago was particularly memorable as Socket easily dominated his Trinidadian compatriots and received much acclaim for his speed, variation, and guile.
Moreover, former West Indies bowlers, including Winston Benjamin and Andy Roberts, encouraged Socket to transition into hardball cricket as they were convinced that he had the talent, discipline, and drive to become a successful international player for the West Indies team. It was felt that his talent was being wasted in softball cricket, but Socket never made the switch for two reasons. Firstly, he LOVED softball cricket and had developed a strong rapport and camaraderie with his teammates and community. Secondly, when he played football at school, he had injured his left knee and was always careful not to over-exert himself. He believed that transitioning to the professional discipline would bring a certain level of commitment that could have been too taxing on his existing injury.
Many people also know Socket as one of the senior crane operators at the Antigua and Barbuda Port Authority. What many probably would not know is that he started his career at the Port as a trainee mechanic at the tender age of fifteen (15) years old. Under a pilot project spearheaded by the late Henderson Simon, three young men from the Point and Villa community were attached to the Port as apprentices. Socket is the only one of those three young men who remained an employee of the Port, the other two having quitted mere weeks into the programme. He worked diligently and advanced from the mechanic shop to driving heavy machinery such as forklifts, hauling trucks (rigs), stackers, and then the crane. When the Port transitioned to the modern cranes, it was Socket who was chosen to lead that project and as such was sent to Norway for training. Again, he excelled and distinguished himself to the point where the Norwegians offered him employment in that country. But his commitment to Antigua and Barbuda made refusing the offer a simple matter. The bonds of love and friendship that he has developed with his coworkers are strong and he is well loved by many at the Port and further afield.
Socket and his nephew (more like his brother) Winston “Sam” Joseph were the owners and operators of SS Sound System, one of the many that was popular during the early to late 1990s. They played at many venues such as parties, weddings, carnival events, and food fairs. The sound system was popular and was a favourite for many years at the Christmas party held at the Swetes basketball court by the Swetes Community Group. Socket himself was always reserved, but each year he ensured that he celebrated his birthday in grand style, and his birthday parties became epic in Point. They would normally last several weekends because of the abundant food, drinks, fun, good vibes, and good company. SS Sound System became the cornerstone of the community J’ouvert’s in the Point Community, launched as a community effort with direct support from Donald Halstead.
Socket emerged as one of the leaders of the group responsible for organizing the J’ouvert’s and many other community based events. It is noteworthy that the members of the organizing committees which included the Point & Villa Community Club, Pointville Sports Club, Dredge Bay Cricket Club and the City West Development Committee were always comprised of members across the partisan divide who collaborated in the interest of community development.
Socket was a lover of culture and The Arts. He was one of the community patron for the Point Iron Band and invested of his time and personal resources for the viability of the institution. He was a member of the Pioneers Steel Orchestra under the tutelage of ‘Champ’ and an avid supporter of the steel bands in the community. There numerous calypsonians who name him among those who would contribute financial to their annual productions. He could be counted on to support in various the execution of the annual Carnival festivities in many ways.
Socket’s community affinity was also evident in his relationship with his home church, the Bethel Anglican in the Point. His family, led by his mother ‘Nella’ were vital roots of the revitalized and rebuilt church of the 1990s. He involved himself heavily in the fundraising efforts and went into his personal resources and those of his fraternity to ensure that the physical needs for worship were met. His impact was profound and immeasurable.
People love Socket and Socket love people. Many describe him as being generous to a fault. He is not a person who holds malice and would strive to be the peacemaker when needed. He is a family man, and despite being the youngest of his parents’ children, he is considered to be a leader within the family and many of his siblings and other family members rely on his guidance and advice in difficult circumstances. His leadership skills extended into the Point Community, on the field of sports and at the workplace.
Despite his recent health challenges after being diagnosed with cancer, Socket remained optimistic and effervescent as can be
We will never forget Sylvester ‘Socket’ Henry, the man from the root of Point!