In the 59 years he has lived in the United Kingdom, Anthony "Chips" Richards has seen his adopted country evolve from an intolerant society to one that embraces immigrants and their diverse cultures.
Richards is one of many 'soldiers' who helped get reggae on the British airwaves during the 1970s. While he was with Trojan Records, he also develop virgin markets such as Nigeria and Japan.
In recent years, Richards has been the unofficial spokesperson for reggae artistes and musicians in the UK, who believe they never got due respect from Jamaica. For that selfless contribution, he has been awarded the Order of Distinction (Officer Class) by the Jamaican Government.
"It's humbling, amazing, a wonderful feeling. I'm thinking how my mother would have felt because she always pushed me, encouraged me. She always told me that I can accomplish anything because I am a Taylor," Richards told the Jamaica Observer, shortly after it was announced that he is a recipient of his country's sixth-highest honour.
His mother, Gloria Richards (nee Taylor) died 32 years ago in the UK. Originally from Clovelly Road in central Kingston, Richards is cousin to former Jamaica champion jockey Emilio Rodriquez who was awarded an OD in 2020.
Working as a marketing man with Trojan Records is among his career highlights. Mentored by his cousin and famed music producer, Bunny Lee, Richards helped promote groundbreaking songs such as Double Barrel by Dave Barker and Ansell Collins and Everything I Own by Ken Boothe, which both topped the British national chart in 1971 and 1974, respectively.
As a producer, he worked with numerous acts including Owen Gray, Alton Ellis and Janet Kay.
The past decade has seen him coordinate with the Jamaican Government and Trojan Records to get due recognition for their pioneer service to spreading Jamaican culture in the UK. It is acknowledgement, Richards stressed, that they deserve.
"The sacrifices they made opened the way for today's artistes. They fundamentally changed British culture with the best form of integration." he said.
Several entertainment industry stalwarts have been named in the 2022 National Honours and Awards roll. Heading the list are jazz pianist Monty Alexander and actress Sheryl Lee Ralph, who will receive the Order of Jamaica, the country's fifth-highest honour.
Poet Kwame Dawes has been awarded the Order of Distinction (Commander Class); deejay Jeffrey "Agent Sasco" Campbell, singers Myrna Hague-Bradshaw and Kendrick "Lord Creator" Patrick, playwright Basil Dawkins, poet/folklorist Amina Blackwood-Meeks, John Swaby (film and technical production) are all recipients of the OD, Officer Class.
Delroy Williams has been awarded a Badge of Honour for "long and faithful service to religious music."
The National Honours and Awards are scheduled for October at King's House in St Andrew.