A very good afternoon to you all!

This is our final GGAA County Ceremony for 2014 and I stand before you filled with pride, knowing that:

  • We are recognizing twelve more individuals who are guided by our national song- serving our homeland with humility without the expectation of reward;
  • We have well-thinking Jamaicans who see the need to laud the efforts of, and support those who have served our communities and have contributed to the development of this nation and I say that with pride knowing that;
  • Despite the challenges in our country, we have the key element needed for positive change. We have our people, who are what is right with Jamaica and they possess the skills, talents and abilities to fix what is wrong with our island.

I am pleased to be part of this ceremony which celebrates the GGAA recipients who embody a culture of excellence and have made their mark in their respective communities and our society and country.

Recipients, I believe that you are pleased to have been selected as a 2014 Awardee.  I ask that you bask in this moment; feel special and be proud as you are deserving of this recognition!  I encourage you to use this acknowledgement of your selfless contribution as a propellant for even greater accomplishments which will motivate others in and around your communities to voluntarily give of themselves. I therefore look forward to hearing of your future success stories as you influence others to become part of “what is right with Jamaica.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, please join me in congratulating all 12 County.

To you our guests, we hope that you will continue to be inspired from this ceremony to become part of the change you wish to see in Jamaica, by being part of the programmes of service aimed at building our nation. Please remember always that Jamaica’s growth and development are dependent on the commitment and patriotism of our people.

I also take this opportunity now to celebrate the life of the late and Most Hon. Sir Howard Cooke who was the founder of the GGAA programme.  Today’s ceremony encapsulates the vision of his committee which in 1991, worked tirelessly to get this programme off the ground.

I ask that you join me in a moment of silence for the late Sir Howard Cooke. … May he rest in peace.

In 2006, the Most Honourable Sir Kenneth Hall expanded the GGAA to include three more awards.  The Youth Award of Excellence to recognize youth ages 18 – 35, for excellence in academia and service, and the Jamaica Diaspora Award for Excellence, that recognizes individuals in the Diaspora who make significant contribution to Jamaica and also to their host country.

Now in the GGAA’s 23rd year, we have contributed further to the pioneering committee’s vision through the creation of the Governor-General’s Programme For Excellence under which the GGAA and my I Believe Initiative are merged.  The present focus in the evolving GGAA programme includes:

  • The ceremonies which are now guided by the theme “there is nothing wrong with Jamaica that cannot be fixed by what is right with Jamaica;
  • The requirement that all awardees should have done voluntary service in the areas of family, youth and education, three critical components which are the three pillars of IBI activity and ;
  • An essay component in an effort to learn the thoughts, outlook and suitability of the persons being awarded for excellence.  We want to know what they are thinking and that their philosophy is in line with the GGPE.

Most of you here should know Major (retired) Effiom Whyte who is now at the helm of the Governor-General’s Programme For Excellence (GGPE).

Major Whyte joined the team in March of this year and we look forward to his contribution to the programme as he carries the mammoth but doable task of ensuring a smooth transition with the coalescing of both programmes.

Gratitude is one of the greatest virtues and so it is with much pleasure that I acknowledge our corporate sponsors who have provided invaluable support to not only the GGAA but also to the GGPE overall.

Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in recognizing our corporate Sponsors:

  • The Gleaner Company which is also celebrating its 180th anniversary;
  • Jamaica National Building Society;
  • The Scotia Jamaica Building Society;
  • Victoria Mutual Building Society and;
  • The Jamaica Broilers Group of Companies, our newest Sponsor.

Allow me to acknowledge Mr. Hugh Morris who contributed to the GGAA’s vision while serving as Coordinator until February of this year.  Mr. Morris gave meritorious service and contributed to the growth and successful execution of the programme for more than a decade.

Ladies and gentlemen please join me in thanking Mr. Morris who is here with us today. I also want to thank Mrs. Morris for having stood by him in this great work.

The success of the GGAA depends on the effective support of the Custodes and I want to recognize the Custodes from the County of Surrey and their respective parish committees whose partnership and support are critical for the successful execution of this annual programme. Custodes, your unfailing collaboration is a solid demonstration of your commitment to the success of this programme and for that we are thankful.

To the Hon. Marigold Harding and her team we say thank you for your effective leadership and the teamwork which has resulted in the successful execution of this afternoon’s ceremony.

As I close, I pause here to remind you all of the I Believe Initiative’s mantra “there is nothing wrong with Jamaica that cannot be fixed by what is right with Jamaica.”   I believe this with my heart and I ask you to action it as far as possible.

I believe wholeheartedly that Jamaica is on the path to becoming a better nation, however, if this goal is to be achieved in the next sixteen (16) years we ALL need to become active participants in the measures that will transform Jamaica. One such way is to not only embody the IBI Messages but become part of the I Believe Initiative.

Our Youth’s involvement is also critical to the building of a great society. I reiterate the belief I first enunciated in my inaugural address in 2009:

“We must engage the youth and adapt to a changing world and the maturing consciousness of our young people.

We must believe in them, train them, and have the faith that they will not betray the values of fairness, morality, and justice that we have instilled in them.”

Recipients, you are proof of what can result when we are convicted by the IBI Message!  You are on the right path! Continue to chart your course by making a difference in your communities, Jamaica and the world!

I thank you.