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Blue blood island girl

India Hicks finds a new life in The Bahamas

Blue blood island girl
India Hicks finds a new life in The Bahamas

by Tosheena Robinson-blair

After modelling all over the world, 28-year-old India Hicks was tired. She had had her fill of living and working in places like London, Paris and New York. She came to The Bahamas to relax and do a little diving.

That was five children, two books, a fragrance collection, an upscale jewellery line and 16 years ago.

Growing up in the British countryside conditioned Hicks to put up with the inconveniences of living on a Bahamian Family Island. Had she grown up in a city, “I would have found island life harder. I know I could never go back to the city now, after having lived here,” says the blond, green-eyed beauty who, according to one source, is 521st in line for the British throne.

“There is no formality to life here and life in England can be quite formal. Living on an Out Island, it’s about the beach, the sky and the wildlife. If I went back to England, I’d definitely live somewhere remote like the countryside, or Scotland, because this feels so right for me now.”

Hicks is the daughter of interior decorator David Hicks and Lady Pamela Hicks; granddaughter of Louis Mountbatten, the first Earl Mountbatten of Burma–the last Viceroy of India. It is from her grandfather’s colonial posting that Hicks comes by her given name.

Some know Hicks only because she was one of five bridesmaids in Princess Diana’s wedding to Hicks’s godfather, Prince Charles, in 1981. But the then 13-year-old tomboy has gone on to make a name for herself outside royal circles.

In 2003, she and partner David Flint Wood published Island Life, a successful interior design book. Two years later, Hicks followed it up on her own with Island Beauty, a lifestyle fitness/beauty book. In collaboration with Crabtree and Evelyn, a well-known purveyor of soaps, toiletries and gourmet food, Hicks launched two bath and beauty collections in 2006–Island Living and Island Night.

In 2011 she launched her own jewellery collection of three lines: Love Letters, Hicks on Hicks and Island Life. Her pieces retail for anywhere from a few hundred to thousands of dollars.

Fashionistas may recognize Hicks as the second season host of Bravo’s series “Top Design.” Others may recall that, during the royal wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton, she was a commentator on British network ITV and filed several reports for ABC. She was also a presenter and executive producer for the TLC cable channel special, “A Look Behind the Veil.”

In The Bahamas, Hicks is best known for her fundraising activities, charitable initiatives and creatively directing her store, The Sugar Mill Trading Company, on Harbour Island– ’Briland, as locals call it. Hicks and Flint Wood have built or restored four houses there.

Falling in love
“All my life I’ve been coming to The Bahamas,” says Hicks. “There are so many odd bits that drew me back, like meeting David, my other half.”

Her parents spent part of their honeymoon on Eleuthera and, after meeting Sir Harold Christie (founder of the oldest and largest real estate firm in The Bahamas), they bought a plot on Windermere–a private island off the coast of Eleuthera that can be accessed only by a guarded bridge.

“My aunt and my mother bought two plots of land next to each other and they both built houses,” says Hicks. “My aunt’s house was an entirely typical Caribbean holiday home. Our house was an Egyptian mausoleum.”

Although she had spent a lot of time holidaying on Windermere as a child, Hicks had never thought about living in The Bahamas until she re-met Flint Wood, whom she had known since childhood.

Eighteen year-old Hicks and Flint Wood were both attending a fundraising event in Nassau when they shared their first kiss, on the steps of Government House. Hicks and her mother were staying at that historic residence while Flint Wood stayed at nearby Graycliff Hotel.

“For the next nine years I didn’t really see David. I had been modelling all over the world and I was getting very tired of it all. I came down to Windermere by myself, just to have some time off.”

Her sister mentioned that Flint Wood was on Harbour Island managing a small hotel … “four months later I was pregnant and 16 years later we’re still here.”

Model, mother, fundraiser
Hicks was a model for top fashion houses: Ralph Lauren, Banana Republic and Bill Blass, among others. She got into it as a 20-year-old student majoring in photography at university in Boston. W magazine included her in an article entitled “New Beauties.” That landed Hicks her first modelling job–with Ralph Lauren.

“I kept thinking, I’ll get back to the photography, the modelling is not going to last,” recalls Hicks, who graduated with honours. “Amazingly, I sort of hit a decade where people wanted, in a sense, real people or personalities who had their own lives.”

Although never a high-fashion or supermodel, she was never out of work. Her good fortune, she believes, was a consequence of not being obsessed with fashion. “I loved it and I enjoyed it but it’s not to be taken so seriously.” At 44, her modelling career is not over: she’s still the face of Viyella–one of Britain’s oldest fashion houses.

As a teen Hicks thought she would like to be an animal rescuer. “It never occurred to me that I would be rescuing children and caring for them,” says Hicks, who is now the mother of five: Felix, Amory, Conrad, Domino (the only girl) and Wesley (her Bahamian foster child). Along with three dogs, a cat and “a very cross parrot,” she manages a full house.

Wesley came to live with the family after his mother, Lynne Cleare, died of breast cancer in 2011. “She was a waitress in a restaurant that we frequented. She died seven months ago and it was decided very quickly that he would come and live with us,” says Hicks, who shares custody with Wesley’s aunt. “It felt a very natural step because he had grown up with my own son. We feel very blessed to have him in our lives.”

The breast cancer problem in The Bahamas is “shocking,” says Hicks. “There is very little awareness in the Out Islands of free services provided by the government: mammograms and regular check-ups… They offer information [but] it’s just not getting out.”

In 2011, Hicks raised $25,000 in the Ride for Hope–a local initiative that seeks funds for cancer victims. She cycled 70 miles in memory of Wesley’s mother.

“The problem with fundraising is there’s a small pool of people you keep going back to and after a while they are going to begin to hate me and say, ‘Oh my God! It’s India back again.’ But, you can’t give up. You’re raising money for very good causes.”

Ride for Hope is not her only contribution to The Bahamas. Part of the proceeds of both her books have been donated to The Dunmore School–a non-profit community school in Harbour Island that she helped to get off the ground.

Island life
For eight years, Hicks had been a co-owner of The Landing, a 12-room guest house that dates back to the 1800s. She helped to remodel the historic property but later sold her interest because, “even though I was living near a beach, I wasn’t going to lie on a beach … I wanted to make the life work for me here.”

“The Landing had been hit very [hard] by a hurricane. Finances had been much depleted. Energy levels were depleted. It was an opportunity to help some friends, get involved, and find an avenue to express my interior design passion while doing something that needed to be done.” With the hotel once again up and running, it was time for Hicks to move on. Other opportunities (her books and perfume collection) were calling.

“The Bahamas is a very inspiring place to live,” she says. “It sounds so ridiculous but you look at the night’s sky … there’s a whole collection of clothing from the Bahamian night sky, waiting to happen–furniture, cushions, everything. There’s just so much to be drawn from here.”

Hicks says most people have no idea what island life is like: the worrying hurricane season, bad roads and unpredictable power outages, for example. “They don’t realize that it is a struggle on many, many fronts, but at the end of the day I have a pink sand beach at the end of my garden and I can take my kids to school on a golf cart.

“It’s been a really good 16 years. This does feel like home and I feel very lucky to live here and to have been welcomed here.”

To find out more about India Hicks, visit



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