Joyce Huxley was only supposed to stay in St Lucia for a year, but she never went home.

Originally from Scotland, she has now dedicated herself to sport on the Caribbean island.

"I've lived more than half my life on St Lucia now," she said. "I came for one year and just never left. 

"It's spectacularly beautiful and the people are just amazing, really delightful.

"It was an easy transition to make the decision to stay."

Huxley is the St Lucia Chef de Mission for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and first became involved in sports governance through the country's swimming association.

Her daughter Siona was a competitive swimmer who competed at the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games, as well as the inaugural Summer Youth Olympics in Singapore in the same year where she carried the St Lucia flag.

Now, Joyce Huxley is in her fourth term as treasurer at the St Lucia Olympic Committee (SLOC) and Commonwealth Games Association.

She is due to lead a team of 15 athletes to Birmingham, in athletics, swimming, boxing, squash and table tennis.

A place in women's 3x3 basketball was also awarded, but the St Lucia Basketball Federation turned this down as they did not feel they could field a team that would be adequately prepared.

Huxley said she was left impressed by organisers after joining other Chef de Missions for meetings and venue tours in the host city, particularly with regards to the three different Athlete Villages which will be used at the Games.

"I must say that the Organising Committee have done a wonderful job," she said.

"Logistically, it's crazy! Having all of the separate Villages and trying to organise the transport between them and all the rest of it...

Commonwealth Youth Games winning sprinter Julien Alfred could be one to watch for St Lucia at Birmingham 2022 ©Getty Images
Commonwealth Youth Games winning sprinter Julien Alfred could be one to watch for St Lucia at Birmingham 2022 ©Getty Images

"But I'm very confident that they are going to pull it off. 

"I've been very impressed with everything that I've seen. Everything seems to be under control.

"I'd never been to Birmingham before and I thought it was more of an industrial city. 

"But there are some really beautiful parts to it, so I've been quite impressed with the city as well." 

St Lucia's team will be split between the Villages, with some at the NEC and others at the University of Birmingham.

A third Village will be in use at the University of Warwick.

"The boxers, we'll put them out at the NEC complex," Huxley said. 

"That will just be so convenient for them. They will be able to walk from their accommodation to the training venue and the competition venue. It's a very nice site.

"The rest of the team will be based at the University of Birmingham campus, which is lovely. 

"We saw it in the sunshine, it was a beautiful day, and just walking around the campus was very, very special.

"I'll have a general team manager who will stay with the boxing coach and the boxers at the NEC, and I'll stay with the rest of the team at the university." 

A medal hope in Birmingham for St Lucia could be sprinter Julien Alfred, who competes in the 100 metres and 200m. 

Alfred won gold in the 100m at the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games in The Bahamas - where the country's boys' beach soccer team also topped the podium.

She also won silver at the 2018 Summer Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires.

St Lucia will head to Birmingham on the back of their most successful Commonwealth Games ever at Gold Coast 2018.

High jumper Levern Spencer won gold to secure the island's first title in any sport since their debut in Perth in 1962.

High jumper Levern Spencer won St Lucia's first Commonwealth Games title at Gold Coast 2018 ©Getty Images
High jumper Levern Spencer won St Lucia's first Commonwealth Games title at Gold Coast 2018 ©Getty Images

Spencer's bronze medals at the two previous Games, and Dominic Johnson's pole vault bronze at Manchester 2002, are the other podium finishes the country has managed.

Unfortunately for St Lucia, Spencer, also a Pan American Games gold medallist, called time on her career at the age of 37 in October so will not be defending her title.

"She's for sure our most decorated athlete but she has unfortunately retired," said Huxley.

"There was a lot of media attention [after Gold Coast] and she went around the schools with her medal.

"She's been a really good ambassador for sport on the island."

Most of St Lucia's team are based in the country, but some are at college in the United States and swimmer Jean-Luc Zephir is located in France.

The Queen's Baton Relay will visit the island in May, with a trip to a volcano among the activities planned.

"People get very excited about the Queen's Baton Relay and get out on the streets and cheer the baton along," Huxley said.

"We arrange for it to go into a number of different schools. 

"The idea is always to get young people involved, and excited about Games and sport in general.

"It's coming in mid May and we're trying to get a lot of media interest in that, to get people excited about seeing the baton doing the rounds in St Lucia."

Huxley was the St Lucia Chef de Mission at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto and the 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games in Barranquilla.

She was Deputy Chef de Mission at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Since November, the SLOC has been led by new President Alfred Emmanuel, who previously served as secretary general for 25 years.

St Lucia has won four medals in its Commonwealth Games history ©Getty Images
St Lucia has won four medals in its Commonwealth Games history ©Getty Images

Emmanuel has become well known in wider sporting circles due to his interjections on controversial issues at Association of National Olympic Committees General Assemblies, where most delegates choose to keep quiet.

Richard Peterkin is another notable sporting official from the island, having become one of the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) most thought-provoking voices during his spell as a member between 2009 and 2019.

Fortuna Belrose, the former President of the SLOC, is a regional vice-president of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) for the Caribbean region.

Cricket is by far the most popular sport with the Daren Sammy Ground in Gros Islet the jewel in the crown of the island's sporting facilities. 

"We have a really good athletics stadium down on the south of the island," Huxley said. 

"There are a couple of mini stadiums that are going up. 

"We have the cricket ground of course which is phenomenal. 

"Currently, we have a 25 metre pool, but a new 50m pool is being built. 

"It's arrived on the island but it just needs to be dropped into a hole in the ground. 

"We've got really good tennis facilities. There is quite a range of different facilities and in the time I've been on the island, it's just been phenomenal the improvement and availability of sporting facilities for the general public."

The SLOC has taken the decision not to pursue private funding or sponsorships, so not to compete with the country's National Federations.

Instead, it relies on Olympic Solidarity payments from the IOC and support from the CGF and Panam Sports.

COVID-19, like most places, played havoc with the preparation of athletes.

"Any group activities were just out of the question," Huxley said.

"The borders closed towards the end of March 2020. At the same time, there were just one or two cases, but everyone was being super, super careful. 

"The protocols on the island were very strict. 

Cricket is the most popular sport in St Lucia ©Getty Images
Cricket is the most popular sport in St Lucia ©Getty Images

"Athletes weren't able to train, and for the qualification sports for the Commonwealth Games it was particularly difficult because our teams were not able to travel to compete or make it to any qualifying events.

"It has been quite problematic. Some sports are already quite well established again and some are just starting up. 

"It has thrown things for a loop as far as training and competing goes. Some sports managed it a little better than others.

"The boxing federation completed their new gym and got a whole lot of new equipment during the pandemic. 

"They've been very, very active. But, for others, it's been a much slower process."