The Start of Greatness.

When we last spoke of the Roy family history, the Roy boys were still very young, and I’d like to elaborate a little on their younger years and into adulthood.

Bill Charles

Bill and Charles, the eldest two, were schooled in Tortola by a tutor, and later, during their teenage years, they were sent to the all male boarding school Strathallan in Perth, Scotland.  They did return home to the BVI on long school holidays, making the long transatlantic journey by passenger ship.  They were both fit young men, who enlisted when war was imminent.  Bill joined the British Army and ended up in India.  Charles became a bomber pilot in the Royal Air Force, and over the years, worked his way up the ranks to finish his career as Wing Commander.

Charles and Betty

Charles met Betty Chell in early 1946 and was smitten. They were married in Paddington, London in September 1946.  With Charles still in the military, the young couple was posted overseas – Burma (now Myanmar) to be exact.  Betty loved telling her grandchildren stories of giant snakes and where they encountered them, making a certain granddaughter wary of drains for a while! Betty was the dutiful military wife, hosting parties at their home for other enlisted men and their families, while Charles conducted training for the other personnel stationed there.

Burma

Eventually, Charles and Betty were repatriated back to England and had time to adjust to life on the RAF bases and to UK weather before the arrival of their first child, a son they called Edward.  Christopher was next, with Bettina as the grand finale.

After Charles retired from the Royal Air Force, the family decided to pack their things and make the big move to the BVI. Let’s face it – the BVI has a way of capturing your soul, and you can’t stay away for long. The fact that Charles’ mother was still there, as was his younger brother Rowan and his young family, made the decision that much easier. On 7th January 1958, they boarded a cruise ship for the trip home to the West Indies.

Edward and Chris were enrolled in school in Road Town while Tina, still a toddler, joined her young cousins, Nancy and James, in learning the important things in island life: which donkeys you can trust, how to properly eat a mango, how to “fish” for tarantulas, and so on.

Baby Tina

Rowan and Charles, with the help of Betty’s keen sense of hospitality, started Treasure Isle hotel on Pasea Estate, Tortola.  They opened the hotel on December 26,  1958, with four rooms, a restaurant and a bar.  Guests were provided with three meals a day, prepared by Betty. Charles manned the bar, often late into the night as he stayed chatting with the last guest awake.

Charles, Betty and Anne

Betty was a natural in the kitchen, and while duplication of her recipes has been attempted many a time over the years, it’s never quite the same. She picked up a knack for curry while in Asia, and it truly was to die for!  One of Betty’s culinary creations was a dish called Chicken Tortola, which was served in a young coconut, known as a jelly nut.   The top of the coconut would be cut open, and the bottom cut so that the coconut would not fall over.  The taste of the chicken in wine sauce together with the soft jelly of coconut was truly unique.

Treasure Isle was one of the first hotels in the BVI.  Although it has changed hands and expanded over time, it is still hosting guests to this day.

I think we will leave the story here for now. We will pick up next time when the Roys make their next big move to you know where!

5 thoughts on “The Start of Greatness.

  1. Wao Tina you look a lot like your mother in her wedding photo. I don’t remember Bettys face too well now. Post a photo from the late 80 or early 90 in a post.
    Love the story.

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  2. I am completely hooked on this story!! And what great old photos (especially of toddler Tina)! Thanks for sharing them with us. I agree that the BVI steals your soul, and am finding myself missing it so much these days. That said, had I known “tarantula fishing” was a thing I might never have set foot there (I’m a total arachnophobe; silly, I know, but there it is!). And now it’s too late; my soul’s already a goner. Can’t wait for the next installment!

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  3. I’m enjoying your blog! Stayed at GB only once, but loved it. If we come back to VG we would love to stay again.

    I think I missed something about tarantula fishing!

    Do you know if Treasure Isle was sold to Bill Denniston (maybe in ’58)? I seem to remember he told us he had owned it (but maybe I am foggy).

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  4. I am hoping you will accumulate all these wonderful blog notes and incorporate them into a small book.
    They and the accompanying pictures are to wonderful and precious not to preserve.

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