PM says National Awards seek to inspire citizens to greater achievements

Senior staff reporter

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

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PRIME Minister Andrew Holness yesterday paid tribute to stalwarts of the tourism industry following yesterday's National Honours and Awards ceremony at King's House.

Holness, speaking at a luncheon organised by Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett at Jamaica Pegasus hotel to fete the industry's honorees, said the awards should not be taken lightly, as they form part of a system of national honours intended to inspire Jamaicans to greater achievements.

“My job is to express gratitude for the service you have given on behalf of a grateful nation,” Holness told the packed hotel ballroom before exiting to attend other National Heroes Day engagements.

The tourism industry's honorees ranged from hotelier Godfrey Dyer to red cap porter Michael Sylvester Young, who, after serving 51 years at Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, received the Badge of Honour for Meritorious Service.

Bartlett paid glowing tributes to all those who had helped tourism continue its dynamic growth record through 2017 and into the first three quarters of 2018.

But while the Jamaica Pegasus event paid tribute to the honorees in words and music, as well as delightful cuisine, the Ceremony of Investiture and Presentation of National Honours and Awards function at King's House, which started shortly after 9:00 am and lasted for little over two hours, was delivered with pomp and colour.

There were 130 people listed to be honoured, but the most anticipated presence would have been that of Jamaican-American singer, actor and social activist Harry Belafonte, whose mother was Jamaican and who has been closely related to the island over the years.

Belafonte should have collected the highest honour of the day, the Order of Merit, Jamaica's fourth highest national honour but, unfortunately, the veteran star, who has not been very visible since serving as honorary co-chair of the Women's March on Washington in January, 2017, was absent. No excuse was given for his absence.

However, the huge crowd that packed the seats at King's House, despite the threat of heavy rains, seemed equally delighted with the presence of other diaspora figures, including film and recording star Grace Jones and New York congresswoman Yvette Clarke.

Jones received the Order of Jamaica (OJ) for exceptional contributions in the field of entertainment and is now entitled to be referred to as the Honourable.

Also accepting OJs were: Godfrey Dyer, in the field of tourism; Earl Jarrett, in the fields of the financial sector, public service and volunteerism; and Giusseppe Maffesanti, for his exceptional contribution to the construction industry, social development and philanthropy.

However, the crowd's applause was most generous for eight Jamaicans honoured for their bravery in incidents which required courage in the face of criminal attacks and man-made disasters.

They included Woman Inspector Allison Nadine Grant-Johnson for displaying “extraordinary bravery” in confronting gunmen in defence of her family on Tuesday, September 26, last year.

The policewoman confronted the gunmen after her daughter was held at gunpoint. She killed two of the gunmen, but was also shot in her upper right arm.

She was awarded the Medal of Honour for gallantry, while Sophia Cameron received the Badge of Honour for gallantry for saving the lives of 22 infants during a fire at the neo-natal clinic of Victoria Jubilee Hospital in downtown Kingston.

Clarke received an honorary Order of Distinction (Commander Class), as did ex-wife of former Prime Minister Edward Seaga, Marie “Mitsy” Seaga-Mian; Mayor of Montego Bay Homer Davis; businessmen Norman Horne and Robert MacMillan; High Commissioner to London Seth George Ramocan; pioneering maritime sector investor Ishmael Robertson; Justices Courney Donovan and Leighton Pusey; Senator Kavan Gayle, president of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union; Granville Valentine, president of the National Workers' Union; Jennifer Griffith, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Tourism; Maxine Henry-Wilson, former member of Parliament and education minister; and Miami-based radio announcer Winston Barnes.

Among those getting Orders of Distinction (Officer class) were radio personalities Walter “Bob” Clarke and Dermot Hussey; businessman John Gourzong; retired Deputy Commissioner of Police Novlette Grant; hotelier Ruth Hussey; dancer Sheila Rickards; Winston “Yellow Man” Foster; Rev Rennard White; William “Bill” La Macchia; and John Mulle, tourism (honorary).

Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation councillor Beverly Prince (Cassia Park) and disc jockey Donovan Dacres were also awarded the Badge of Honour for long and faithful service.

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