MONTEGO BAY, St James — FIFTY-two-year-old Jamaica Observer vendor Althea Smith and her 23-year-old daughter, Neveta Sutherland, who recently graduated from the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona with a medical degree, were honoured during a recognition luncheon held in this resort city last weekend.
The function, which was the brainchild of Sandra Miller-Hall and Valerie Lewis-O'Bryan, was sponsored exclusively by members of the Montego Bay business community and hosted at the Day-O-Plantation Restaurant located in Fairfield Estate, Montego Bay on Saturday.
Two months ago the Jamaica Observer brought to light the inspirational story of Smith, a single parent, who used her earnings from selling newspaper and working at a laundromat on Waltham Park Road, Kingston, to send her only child to school from the early childhood level through to the UWI.
The story garnered the attention and admiration of Miller-Hall and Lewis-O'Bryan who were spurred into action.
"I read the Observer and I saw this article about Neveta and her mother and I thought it was just magnificent. So I contacted the Observer for their (Smith and her daughter) number, got in touch with them and invited them down for a function," Miller-Hall told the Observer West.
The mother and daughter who vacationed at Sandals Montego Bay Resorts from June 15 to 18, courtesy of the Sandals Resort International, were flown from Kingston by the Jamaica Air Shuttle to the Sangster's International Airport where they were met by Custos of St James Ewen Corrodus and Mayor of Montego Bay Glendon Harris.
On Saturday, the mother and daughter were transported from to the restaurant in a lavish Lincoln Continental motor car, provided by Jamaica Tours, which was escorted by two Jamaica Constabulary Force outriders.
"They deserved something like this," a seemingly satisfied Miller-Hall argued.
Meanwhile, guest speaker at the recognition luncheon Managing Director of the Jamaica Observer Danville Walker charged Jamaicans to highlight more of the country's success stories.
"Today we are here to celebrate something that is right about Jamaica. What is right about Jamaica is that you can, if you are born in humble circumstances, find a way to make a success of yourself. It is not a story we talk about enough in Jamaica. It is not an uncommon story but we spend so much time talking about doom and gloom in Jamaica you believe many times that nothing good happens here," Walker stated.
Meanwhile, Dr Sutherland who will on July 29 commence her duties at the May Pen Public Hospital, in Clarendon, expressed her gratitude to the organisers and sponsors for the recognition she and her mother have been given.
"I must say I was pleasantly surprised when Miss Sandra Miller called me the day and informed me of her intention, but I did not expect a function of this magnitude. I did not expect so much effort to be spent and today I do not have the words to express how I feel," the young medic remarked.
"Thank you for the support. The resilience and the good example that has been set by my mother...without her and a circle of friends and family this would not be possible."