News of the death of the well-known bandleader and designer has sent shock waves across Barbados.
The mother of two, who was always expressing her views on how to improve the Crop Over Festival and designed for both Junior and Grand Kadooment, collapsed outside the National Stadium shortly after crossing the stage with her band, Lucky Horseshoe Jump Promotions, and being interviewed live on national television.
Ratcliffe was unresponsive when she was taken by ambulance to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH), where she died.
The band continued along the route in her honour, as all who knew her said Crop Over and Kadooment was what she loved most.
The theme for the band this year was ‘Happy Go Lucky’ and speaking to Loop News at the band launch in May, Ratcliffe had said, “My heart and soul goes into the band and I make sure that people are happy with their costumes.”
The news of her passing spurred tributes from the many people who would have been touched by her vibrant spirit.
Among them was Barbados’ Opposition Leader Mia Mottley who wrote:
“Only this morning I watched Rene Sheppard Ratcliffe on CBC TV in her element and giving testimony! She was asked what was her greatest achievement for Crop Over and she thought she was being asked what was her greatest achievement in life – and she answered her children!!! That had to be the Almighty talking to her so she could show her absolute love for her boys!!! Rene this was your last Mas and you graced it well – with your passion and creativity for which you will always be remembered! A true, true Bajan woman who lived giving her all always! Blessings and prayers to her sons and all of her family – you shared her with the people of this land. She was ours as she was yours!!!”
Soca queen, Alison Hinds also shared her condolences on Instagram:
“I post this with great sadness after hearing of the passing of my friend #reneeratcliffe earlier this morning. Renee, you were always full of energy and always had a smile ready no matter where we would see each other. If I was in the middle of a crowd and I heard someone shout “sugar botsy” at the top of their lungs, I knew it was you!!!! You died doing what you love, playing and making mas and my heartfelt condolences go out to your beautiful boys and your entire family. I guess God needed to spice up heaven some more so he called you home but, we will miss you……… I will miss you.”
Take a look at the gallery to see some of the tributes to Renee Ratcliffe.