SEPTEMBER 26, 2013


Good Afternoon to you all!

Lady Allen and I are pleased to be with you at the third and final Governor-General Achievement Awards county ceremonies for 2013 here in St. Thomas to celebrate the achievement of four citizens. Our celebration is enhanced by the beautiful scenery which surrounds us here on the lawns of the Whispering Bamboo Cove Resort. Allow me to thank our Host Custos, the Hon. Marcia Bennett, for affording us this delightful opportunity.

St. Thomas is one of our parishes which is important to the understanding of our history and culture as a people.  In fact, I daresay that a study of Jamaican history would be incomplete without an understanding of developments in St. Thomas from the colonial era to the present. Stony Gut and Morant Bay are locales forever etched in our national memory because of the ultimate sacrifice paid by National Hero from St. Thomas, The Right Excellent Paul Bogle. His struggle against oppression began the long march to independence.  We cannot but reflect on this, when we come to this parish.

Let me pause here to recognize the newest of our Custodes – the Honourable Lincoln Thaxter, Custos Rotulorum for the parish of Portland, successor to the Honourable Roy Thompson who has retired.  A special welcome to you, Custos Thaxter and our sincere thanks to Mr. Thompson for what he was able to accomplish during his tenure!

This afternoon we publicly recognize Coreen Angela Dennis, Donna-Lee Cora Minott, Christine Natalie Downer and Cosmo Leroy Jowhill.  I am sure that this gesture on your part has resonated very well with these GGAA Awardees and will contribute to this afternoon’s experience being a very memorable moment in their lives.   Thank you on their behalf.

As you will hear later in the programme when Mrs. Norma Brown Bell shares a summary of each citation with us, these four award recipients are everyday Jamaicans who did not allow challenges to derail them during their childhood and/or their early adult life.  Instead, they remained focused and persevered in their determination to achieve personal growth and development.  Equally commendable is their strong yearning to reach out to others, having themselves, in our local parlance, “passed the worst”!  Think how much further advanced Jamaica would be if more of our people emulated the attitude and actions of these four Awardees!

Some of you who have attended these GGAA events in previous years, might be wondering about the absence of the youth awardees!  Let me put your mind at rest!  No, we did not forget them. However, because of their motivating life experience, we deemed it best for the 2013 GGAA Youth Awardees to be honoured in front of their peers during the National Youth Conference.  Thus, on October 24, at the Jamaica Conference Centre, hundreds of youth from across the length and breadth of Jamaica will have the opportunity of being inspired and strengthened by the sterling examples of twenty-eight of their peers.

Jamaica’s first National Hero, The Right Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey, made a profound statement, which I believe the Awardees have accepted as true:

“If you have no confidence in self,

you are twice defeated in the race of life.”

By their life stories, our GGAA awardees have consistently demonstrated that success demands self-confidence. Those who encouraged them, supported them and journeyed with them during the difficult times were instilling in them the important life-changing message of the value of self-confidence.  Ladies and gentlemen, we can only unleash our potential and God-given talents, when we believe in ourselves.

The Governor-General’s Achievement Awards programme has been sustained since 1991 through a partnership among all the stakeholders.  It is therefore important for me to express my sincere appreciation to our longstanding partners in this programme:

1.   Our corporate sponsors – CIBC/First Caribbean International Bank, The Gleaner Company, Jamaica National Building Society, Scotia Jamaica Building Society and Victoria Mutual Building Society for their ongoing generosity which is manifested primarily in their financial support and representation at the functions;

2.   Our committed Custodes, and for today’s purposes, those representing the parishes of Surrey – they, along with their hardworking teams, have ensured that the programme is kept alive and relevant, and maintains its integrity in these parishes;

3.   Our indefatigable and faithful National Coordinator Mr. Hugh Morris  for ensuring that the process flows smoothly and effectively, and

4.   The Staff of King’s House for their tireless, efficient support of this programme, and in recent times Mrs. Norma Brown-Bell, our orator

Today’s four adult awardees represent “hope” and what is possible when we rise to challenges instead of “throwing in the towel”.   This is in sync with the focus of my inaugural address as Governor-General in 2009.  On that occasion I enunciated my beliefs, one of which was:

“I believe that despite our challenges, our setbacks

and our despair, we are a nation which has been

blessed with a rich heritage, abundance resources,

and the prospect of a bright future.”

I urge all of you: let us not be crippled by self-doubt and fear, but instead be empowered by the knowledge that we can achieve what we will!

Thank you and have a good afternoon!