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Hotseat - Denise Antrobus

hotseat_DeniseA lady with many facets and many interests, Denise Antrobus is one of the champions of the island's stray and neglected animals as well as a hardworking fundraiser, community helper, full time worker and wife to a prominent businessman. She is most proud, however, of her three young-adult children, the raising of whom was her main occupation until they graduated from high school and went off to university.

You are a passionate animal lover. How has this manifested itself in your life?

I have always loved animals and since I've been married, have always had cats and dogs. My husband David also bred pigeons for show. Whenever we have moved islands, our animals have come with us. In St. Maarten, I volunteered for SMART (St. Maarten Animal Rescue Team) and have kept it going since the founder left the island. My main project is TNRM with cats (trap, neuter, return, maintain). I try to do a food drive once a month to keep them fed. At home, I have four dogs (two of whom were rescues) and four cats (all of whom were rescues and one of which is blind).

How did you come to St. Maarten?

We came to St. Maarten in 2000 by way of Barbados and St. Lucia. My husband is Barbadian and we met whilst I was on holiday there. Following our marriage in the UK, we lived in Barbados for eight years at which time David was transferred to St. Lucia. Five and a half years later, we were transferred to St. Maarten and here we very happily still are.

Where did you spend your early years?

I was born and raised in England. Following high school, I joined the WRNS (Women's Royal Navy Service) in the UK as a radio operator. After several years, I decided to move to "civvie street," which in the UK means to return to civilian life, and I was fortunate enough to land some high pressure jobs in banking. I also worked as a stock broker on the trading floor.

You were a very active member of Carib Swim Team. How did this come about?

I became active in the sport as my children were avid swimmers. Two of them were in the pool at six weeks of age and all three were subsequently international swimmers, requiring daily practice sessions. I was on the very first committee of Carib Swim Team and one of three ladies at the time doing the fundraising and organizing local and off-island swim meets. In St. Lucia, I would fill in for the coach if he could not make training; and in St. Maarten, I coached the Super Splash team for a while. I have taken FINA officiating courses and some with NOAC and for a short time was assistant to the Netherlands Antilles swim team. I have always supported and promoted the development of young swimmers and tried to arrange off island swim meets to prepare them for competitive swimming. Unfortunately, I had to stop my association with the sport due to a major health issue which required a three-month absence from St. Maarten for treatment.

Your community activism also included a stint with Island Gems. Tell us a bit about this.

I was a member of the Island Gems Foundation for five years and held various positions, including Public Relations Officer and President, within the foundation. I had the pleasure of working with a group of great women who tirelessly raised funds to donate to worthy non-profit organizations benefitting as wide a section of the Dutch and French side community as possible.

Your husband is a Rotarian. What are the demands on you as a Rotarian wife?

I help out in whatever capacity I am needed. During the Regatta, I helped with the car parking at Kim Sha. For the first Rotary Mid-Isle wine tasting dinner, I assisted with the décor. We learned about the Rotary Motor Treasure Hunt when we competed in it in St. Lucia and placed three times, winning once and always won the best dressed team. We introduced the Treasure Hunt to St. Maarten where it has been a big success the six years it has been held. My husband and I are currently organizing the Motor Treasure Hunt being held March 22.

Do you have any plans to increase or scale down your community participation?

I am evaluating everything at the moment because I have committed myself to a few other things, but I also started working full time in January 2014, so time is more limited. One thing is for sure; I will continue to deal with improving the life of feral cats as much as I can.

What do you do for "you time"?

I am an avid book reader and belong to the Happy Bookers Book Club on St. Maarten. I also enjoy cross-stitching and am a competent dress-maker. I used to sew all my daughters' uniforms and many of their outfits; but these days, just sewing a curtain is an effort and the sewing machine doesn't see much daylight! I attend gym three times a week and this has helped me recover from my health issues much quicker than expected. I love to travel when possible. We have a wedding to go to in Miami next week, my son's graduation in California in April and a trip to Cartagena in June.

What is your pet peeve?

Off the top of my head, I would say punctuality. It is a big issue between my husband and me. I wonder why he wears a watch.

If you could invite any three people (living or dead) for a meal, who would they be and what would you cook for them?

Elton John; some of his songs are amongst my most favourite. My grandparents Flo and Harry; they died when I was young and I think about them often. Cook? I would be too busy talking so I'd have to order in!