In the 1994 Tom Hanks-starrer Forrest Gump, a massive hit loved even to this day, the titular character asks an innocent but moving question to his mother. The kid says, “What’s my destiny mom?” With warmth in her voice and customary grace, Sally Field, the mother, replies, “Well, you have to figure out yourself, sweetheart.”
Mamma is dying in the movie and little Forrest quietly looks into the unknown perhaps aware- and silently so- that he’s down by himself and has to figure things out on his own. Eventually, he sails through every trial and tribulation of life acing it with flying colours.
That Forrest Gump goes places and does things few could have imagined a slow-witted man would achieve is probably down to the fact that Tom Hanks’s character is a simpleton, but one who lives for the others.
Ever willing to be himself and be a part of others’ lives, saving his Army boss, never holding back his love for a seventies here-today-gone-tomorrow hippie-boho chic who’s a fast mover called Jenny, listening to what’s told to him for his good and journeying on the twisty paths of life without ever changing a bit is what, you may feel, endears him to countless lives around.
What if you were told that this poignant exchange between fictional characters on the screen is sort of what happened many moons ago in the beachy Caribbean paradise called Antigua? And just that instead of Forrest Gump and his mum, it was a doting mother and Renee-Edwards Ambrose who conversed in similar fashion?
When she was just a teen, Renee-Edwards Ambrose had told her mother, “Mom, by the time I finish high-school, I wanna be a drag racer, I wanna be in a position to start my own racing team, and want to become an aircraft maintenance engineer.”
Few years later, the holder of one of brightest and heartiest smiles in all of Antigua was all of that.
Renee Edwards Ambrose, in a sense, found her own destiny and in a bold but clear message to her mum, laid down the path to her life without finding the need to be assisted with one.
In an age where many are simply willing to walk down the beaten path, refraining to go into the realm of the unknown, forgetting cultivating the hunger to take risks, Renee had figured out her ‘destiny.’
Just that the most heartening part about this madly talented, versatile and passionate Antiguan is that her destiny was to change those of the others; those connected to her.
A few hours back, Renee Edwards Ambrose couldn’t contain her excitement regarding the YTD Cricket Club at St. John’s, Antigua. A year later after Renee and her team acquired the land to develop the YTD academy, a proper cricketing turf has already come up for young girls to hone their cricketing skills. The venue stands on the same piece of earth that happens to be the homeland of Sir Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards.
Yes, that part of the earth where Brian Lara first made 375, and later, cricket’s only quadruple hundred where Renee is spearheading a cricket development programme for young girls.
Involved closely with the first-ever Windies women cricketer from Antigua, Shawnisha Hector, the reservoir of energy that’s Renee Edwards Ambrose has been working tirelessly to train and train with young girls so that they can forward their cricketing careers.
An ambassadorial figure of sorts whose popularity encourages the young to follow the path to their dreams, Renee lent her presence to supporting the cause of making cricket popular for young girls in and around Antigua. In 2017, she was formally elected as a patron during the series where hosts Windies women took on the visiting Sri Lankans for a T20I series.
A rainbow of passion and endless enthusiasm
But akin to the colour of the sky that assumes vivid hues after incessant rains follow glowing sun, Renee Edwards Ambrose is a woman of diverse colours, each that merges with another to brighten up lives of the others.
Connected closely to the Cricket West Indies to up the ante of cricket development in Antigua is just one of the facets of the woman who’s also a model, and a noted one at that.
At the prime of her young career, one that’s growing and inspiring many lives every day, Renee founded her drag racing team. She is, in her current capacity, the founder of a unique racing team by the name of Lady Horsepower Farm.
It’s a team based in Antigua with a vision to promote women in motorsports and give racing enthusiasts a space to platform to pursue their passion. Renee Edwards Ambrose, an impassioned motorsports personality, not just a fan or admirer of speed, spent countless days at a destination that became a second home, the St. Kitts and Nevis-bound St. James Raceway.
Her idea, even then was to do promote the concept of drag racing back at home, so that the other girls could do what she, a racer with Mazda RX7 did during the peak of her racing days: have more access to drag racing, get a platform to race with.
In 2014, a year where the West Indies toured India in a dramatic white-balls series, most noted for Samuels’ prime form, a young woman back in the Caribbean was breaking stereotypes.
It’s the time where Renee Edwards Ambrose had begun her drag racing career, in the very part of the world that’s so often and so commonly about Cricket and Football, drag racing- well, not so much.
But then when has Renee been a conventional “I-will-go-only-where-there-is-a-proper-path” person?
It’s precisely here that Renee accomplished something, once again, for the collective interest of the others, never for the self.
Seven years after having first raced in her 1986 RX7, having contested around the Caribbean, including destinations like Trinidad and Tobago, the smiling lass sits on the board of the Antigua Barbuda Drag Racing Association. However, that’s not before becoming the brand ambassador of Digicel in the Caribbean.
With her rests the experience that can help several forthcoming racers from the tropical island that birthed the great Curtly Ambrose, one that’ll hopefully birth many trailblazers of speed.
There are some who are just Lewis Hamilton fans and that’s about that. Then there are some who much like the determined seven-time world champion inspire others to get behind the wheel of a car. Renee Edwards Ambrose is the latter.
Already in 2021, Lady Ambrose as she’s often called, lent zing to an initiative of hers called “Lady Mex,” short for lady mechanics. Here, Renée is extending knowledge to individuals on how to look after one’s car; car maintenance, how to replace a flat tire, and whatnot.
Not interested in the cult of celebrity or what popularity affords her, Renée Edwards Ambrose is a people’s person who aspires to pass on knowledge.
And all that she does, you have to note, is to bring forth a change. Plus, there’s context to it.
Two images, so to speak, morph a veiled truth of the Caribbean society. One that the Caribbean is all about a happy-go-lucky place where everyone is having a good time. Sure, it’s true but is it the only truth? The other popular misconception being that women, much like men, have great opportunities and are boundlessly encouraged.
The latter couldn’t be any further from the truth. It’s here where role model figures like Renee become far too important than being just popular idolatry personalities.
In a world where everyone is becoming an ‘Insta star,’ and rather instantly so, Renee Edwards Ambrose, who won a second place trophy in a premier Drag racing event in 2016, is one for the future. One for the long term.
The horse that excels the steeple chase and prances out in the front to lead by an example. The wolf that lives for th pack. The direction giver that doesn’t condescend and is as distant from any remote sign of arrogance as is Rishab Pant from breaking Murali’s record of 800 Test scalps.
As we speak, Renee Edwards Ambrose is already forging great plans regarding a mega project dabbling in motorsports for girls.
So what is it? When’s the formal announcement?
Well, the real achievers don’t talk, they work. And ever wired in the now, the present moment for that is where the glory lies, Renee is fully focused on accelerating the growth of women’s cricket in Antigua. Cricket it is, for now.
Makes sense. That’s what makes the West Indies, the West Indies- doesn’t it?
Always so passionate, glorious, one-of-a-kind, the ones destined much like Forrest Gump was to change lives around!
More power to you, beautiful Renee!