Earlier this morning, Billy “Mystic” Wilmot–the godfather of Jamaican surfing and the founder of the famous Jamnesia Surf Camp located in Bull Bay–posted a video on Instagram of his childhood home after a devastating fire burned it nearly to the ground. All that was left of the kitchen and much of its surrounding was a mess of scorched rubble and debris.
According to the Star, a Jamaican news outlet, the fire was started by children who were playing with fire on the second floor of the house. Around 3:25 PM yesterday, firefighters received the call about the fire, but by the time they arrived not 10 minutes later, the building was already overtaken by flames.
Wilmot and his wife lived in the house–located on the same premises as the Jamnesia Surf Camp–alongside his son, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren. For decades the homestead has been the beating heart of the local surf community, and it’s also existed an open-armed place for traveling surfers to stay while visiting the island. A few years ago, Pat, Dane and Tanner Gudauskas organized a surfboard drive in the U.S. and delivered over 200 boards to Wilmot and the local community of rippers. While news reports say that the surfboards were unaffected by the fire, the Wilmots, unfortunately, lost many valuable possessions to the flames.
“There’s a whole lot of historical stuff in here, because my in-laws were journalists and a lot of their work was in the house. We lost a whole lot of irreplaceable stuff,” Wilmot’s wife, Claudet told the Star.
“Apart from the artwork and the carvings and so on, just the artefacts [sic], the documents that were there. There was even a letter there from the last colonial governor, a whole lot of old photographs, letters signed by Michael Manley, an original painting by Ras Daniel Hartman, called Generation Untold, 1969.”
Nicole Wilmot (Billy and Claudet’s niece) has set up a GoFund Me account to help raise money from the international surf community and beyond–a vast network of people who have been touched by the Wilmot family. If you’d like to donate money to help the Wilmot family rebuild their home, please click here.