Lovely Rockley’s presence in the community is felt in many ways. She is a remarkable lady whose influence and generosity touches many lives.
“Life is good,” she says as she exudes joy. “We have a choice in life; we can be better or bitter. Everything we go through is a lesson to learn.”
Reckley attributes her positive attitude towards life to a near death experience she had as a young girl. While playing with friends she suddenly fell unconscious and was flown into Nassau where she was thought to be dead and the doctors waited to put her in the morgue. However, through a miracle she moved and the doctors realized she was still alive. From then on she decided what to do with her life and has lived it helping others. “I don’t like to know that someone has a need and I do nothing to help them,” she says.
Lovely Reckley was born in Fox Town where she attended school until she had to leave early in order to help her mother look after the younger children. She was the second child and the first girl in a family of 14 children born to Voidell and George Russell. The family moved to Freeport then to Green Turtle Cay before settling in Marsh Harbour. Lovely’s father was pastor of a nondenominational church in Fox Town so she spent all of her life around the church. At the age of 19 years she met her husband, Bradley, while he was visiting the church and at the age of 19 they married and left Fox Town.
“I had a great childhood even though it was a lot of work. There were no modern conveniences, so I had to scrub all the family clothes on a scrubbing board and get down on my hands and knees to scrub the floor. I had very little spare time but in any spare minutes I loved to read and learn about different places and cultures: reading helps you understand about life,” she said. “Summers were the highlight of my life because my father, who was a fisherman, always took us to the cays and I loved nature.”
Lovely Reckley is well known for her many beautiful crafts, which she sells in her shop ‘Lovely Island Tings’ on Queen Elizabeth Drive. She learned to sew, knit and crochet from watching her mother and began by designing clothes for her doll babies. She then decided that if she could make clothes for her dolls she could make clothes for herself so if she had no fabric she would cut up sheets to make dresses and shirts. She later set up the first line of dressmaking in Marsh Harbour. From an early age Ms. Reckley had a love of creating things and when she had no hook or needles to learn to knit and crochet she used a straw from the beach to begin teaching herself.
“Where there’s a will there’s a way,” she said.
Somebody noticed Ms. Reckley’s determination and gave her a hook and showed her how to crochet and she then began making many items such as hats, bags and even bathing suits; her imagination knew no bounds.
In addition to sewing, crochet and knitting Ms. Reckley now does beautiful beading, shell and coconut jewelry, straw bags, basket weaving and machine embroidery, an art she learned in China on a course sponsored by the Chinese government. She also loves to cook and make native jams as a hobby that she gives away to friends as gifts.
Lovely Reckley has helped many people learn a craft and is always happy to give of her time to help someone who wants to learn.
Her love of cooking is put to very good use. A few years ago Lovely started a program to cater to schools for school lunches. She invented pizza turnovers which the children especially love. She then realized that there were some very needy students in the schools who did not have money to buy lunch, so about 22 years ago she started up a lunch program for needy schoolchildren. She did this until Social Services came up with a program but when, about three years ago, she realized that Social Services was unable to provide for all the needy children she restarted her own free lunch program with 10 children.
Ms. Reckley is now serving up to 120 children in three schools on Abaco, namely Every Child Counts, Central Abaco Primary and Abaco Central High. Each day she provides a cooked meal for them and tries to make it different everyday with something kids love such as chicken and rice, spaghetti and meatballs, soup of the day and of course her special pizza turnovers.
She cannot do this without some help so every Friday Lovely can be seen at Maxwell’s Supermarket with her straw basket collecting donations from the customers. She also wants to thank the kindness of Dr. Charite, Auskell Clinic, Kirk the Pines and Miracle Church of God, Green Turtle Cay for their monthly donations and any others who donate to this cause. Although she had some voluntary helpers to help cook the food they all fell by the wayside so she has now had to hire someone to assist.
“I grew up in a home where my mother and father took care of people, so it is in my heart and today I just do what I saw them do,” Ms. Reckley says.
Lovely and her husband, Bradley, are evangelists based with the Miracle Church of God on Green Turtle Cay and First Assembly in Marsh Harbour, and conduct Street services in all of the different communities of Abaco working their way from Crown Haven to Sandy Point. Every Friday afternoon they can be seen on the streets of Marsh Harbour spreading the gospel.
Ms. Reckley has also had her own TV program on Bahamas Christian Network television since the station opened. The program, entitled ‘Walking in Love’, airs on Tuesday mornings at 6 a.m. It is a teaching program that is said to touch many lives. She also speaks at conferences and is a juvenile panelist.
“I am a community person and am always available for whatever is needed in the community. My husband of 36 years jokes that he has to make an appointment to see me but he is a great supporter in all I do which makes it easier,” she says.
This busy lady is a mother of three children, one deceased, and seven grandchildren.
She sums up her life’s work saying; “I am here to represent the Kingdom. We expand the Kingdom by the love we show. I am a Kingdom ambassador and when my work is finished I’ll be gone.”