OCHO RIOS, St Ann — For more than three decades, Ocho Rios businessman Pixley Irons has dedicated much of his personal life to the development of St Ann, and his work with different groups, particularly the youth, spans far and wide.
Irons is a justice of the peace (JP) and member of the Ocho Rios Rotary Club, but his work as a volunteer extends beyond the ambit of these offices.
Irons has served as a mentor for hundreds of youths across the parish through various training exercises and other programmes geared toward helping youths empower themselves.
“I think I got it (volunteerism) from my parents, and if you don’t give you can’t get,” Irons told the Jamaica Observer North East.
“It’s the satisfaction you get knowing that you have helped somebody. I’m not in it for the financial gains; I was never in it for that. I just love to help people,” he explained.
Irons, and his sons operate Irons Mechanical Service at White River in Ocho Rios, and through that establishment a number of young apprentices have received training in auto mechanics.
Irons has also participated in several work-experience programmes by accommodating students from high schools across the parish.
As the 2006 recipient of the Governor General’s Achievement Award for St Ann, Irons said that recognition, among several others, has helped to further strengthen his resolve to continue working for the community.
In recent time, Irons has spent a lot of time counselling and mentoring youths both on the streets and through various groups, including schools, churches, youth clubs, and different training institutions.
Last year he started an initiative to help schoolboys stay away from gangs and has confiscated some 70 handkerchiefs, bearing different symbols, which he said the boys use to indicate their affiliation to the gangs.
“I try to counsel them and talk to them about gangs. Anywhere I see them with the ‘kerchief I talk to them; whether at school or on the street,” he said. The initiative is said to have reaped success as Irons said there has been a reduction in the number of youths involved in gangs.
He has contributed widely to a number of groups across the parish, including the Buckfield Summer League football competition, Ocho Rios Skills Training Centre, Jamaica Cultural Development Commission and the Golden Grove Optimist Club.
His contribution also extends outside of St Ann to neighbouring St Mary where he has worked extensively with Retreat Primary and Junior High, Free Hill United Youth Club, Oracabessa Police Youth Club, and St Mary Parish Library.
His work has not gone unnoticed among his peers and Irons has received a number of commendations and recognition from various groups which have awarded him for his contribution.
Among his many achievements are the Volunteerism Awards for St Ann in 2007, HEART Trust/NTA award for partnership in training, St Ann Chamber of Commerce Citizen Award 2011, and the Lay Magistrate Association award for St Ann 2011.
His involvement at his alma mater, Fern Court High, has also earned him several accolades, including an award from the institution for public service in 2008 and outstanding performance in the school’s development in 2010.
In 2010, Irons was vested with the Order of the St John Ambulance Brigade.
Irons has served in various capacities on several boards, including the Jamaica National Advisory Committee, Ocho Rios; vice-chairman of the Ferncourt High School board; president of the Motor Repairers Association of Jamaica; St John’s Ambulance Brigade North Central; and chairman of the Governor General Awards committee for St Ann.
Irons said he is committed to continue working to help uplift the community and guide the youth towards a successful future.