David Meritt – notable West Indian by Jamaican Products

David Meritt is featured as the notable West Indian for June 2016. The stories of those featured are recorded by Jamaican Products in the form of an interview.

David Meritt
David Meritt

David is an entrepreneur, accountant, sports enthusiast and business mentor. So let’s hear the story of this vibrant personality.

When did you arrive in Australia?
I arrived in Australia in March 1979 in brisk weather. It took me three days to get here from Barbados and I was not in a hurry to get back on that plane.

Where were you born?
I was born in Barbados and went to school at Barbados Academy and Modern High School. I had seven siblings and being number six child there was never a dull moment in our household. I enjoyed my childhood growing up on a sugar plantation with lots of animals to care for.

What features of the West Indian life could benefit Australia?
I observed that Australia and Australians had a lot in common with West Indies and West Indians. For example being an Island, summer climate, beaches, the love of cricket and a much laid back attitude “It will be all right mate.”

David Merritt, Ted Walsh, Doug Lindsay, (Sydney Windies Cricket Club) Mike Whitney (Australian Cricketer)
David Merritt, Ted Walsh, Doug Lindsay, (Sydney Windies Cricket Club) Mike Whitney (Australian Cricketer)

Australia could benefit from the West Indian cultural integration, a melting pot of cultures. Arawak and Carib Indians from South America (the first inhabitants), Spaniards, English, Portuguese, Dutch, Africans, Indians, Chinese and others.

What features of Australian life could benefit the West Indies?
Relative to the West Indies, Australia is a young British colony that did not experience having most of its resources exploited. Australia is wealthy and thus able to support its citizens. This unfortunately is not the position of most West Indian countries. The West Indies could benefit from the social security system and vast resources that Australians takes for granted.

Any funny stories of cross cultural differences especially noticeable in your first years here?
I observed that the height of the houses were lower than in the West Indies therefore I thought that Australian were short. It was not until I was invited into an Australia home I realise my premise was false. LOL……

Another noticeable culture difference was the sledging and booing of players on the field by the opposition team and spectators. I never understood this attitude in sports when “sports is the creating of entertainment for fun” but it seems as some Australians will go to great lengths to win.

Waxed in: Sachin Tendulkar, David and Glenn McGrath
Waxed in: Sachin Tendulkar, David and Glenn McGrath

Your experiences in the restaurant business and advice for any new entrants?
I started the “Caribbean Hideaway Restaurant & Bar” in 1992 at Glebe, relocated in 2000 to Parramatta and closed in 2003 after ten years of trading. It was a journey of a lifetime! I learned so much about myself and people.

It was an eighteen hours day running the restaurant and working full time as an Accountant, crucial skills to operating my business. Making dreams a reality requires more than desire, passion and hard work. I recommend a business plan with a budget, employing professional resources and a good mentor. If you have a spouse it would be of great assistance if you have their support as the road can become rocky and it will test your relationship to breaking point.

What are some of your sporting / community related achievements
The Sydney Windies Cricket Club celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2014. I am honoured to be its first Captain and a founding member along with Bunny Johnson, Ron Freckleton, Errol Renaud and Patrick Powell. I was influential in forming the West Indies Association of Australia in 1989 and watched its membership grow to 438 in 1997. With the small number of West Indians in Sydney I believe a paid administration position is essential for survival of community groups.

At a Freemason ANZAC Day Memorial Service
At a Freemason ANZAC Day Memorial Service

For me a dream come true – I played cricket on two international cricket grounds; Kensington Oval in Barbados and Sydney Cricket Ground Australia.

In the 1980s, thanks to Errol Renaud, I had the opportunity and privilege of managing T-Vibes a Caribbean band. This band performed at a number of venues including the Hilton Hotel, Paddington Town Hall, Canberra and the Adelaide Grand Prix.

I am a Freemason for the last 20 years and one of the goals of freemasons are to make Men better Men. I aspire to this aim.

What has been your family (nuclear and extended) influence?
My parents had a strong influence in my attitude and approach to life. My Mum always said to me; “never steal, always tell the truth and work hard for what you want.” Her great cooking skills inspired me to start the “Caribbean Hideaway Restaurant & Bar”. On the other hand my Dad instilled in me the “integrity of oneself” and “that knowledge is power which no one can take from you“.

The two halves: David and Mandy
The two halves: David and Mandy

My wife Mandy has always been supportive of me although she maintains her own professional career and the household. To me she is a Super Woman in her own right. “Thank you Mandy!”

If you feel you need financial advice or a business mentor, why not give David a call to start the conversation.

David’s contact details are: [email protected] or 0421 074 456


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