Good afternoon. I am very pleased to be addressing this distinguished audience at the final of the County Awards functions for 2009.

The Governor-General’s Achievement Awards Schemewas established in 1991:

  • To promote excellence, and
  • Recognise individuals across Jamaica, who have selflessly volunteered their time, talent and energy to help others and build strong communities …

It is one of Jamaica’s most successful and prestigious awards programme with over 200 persons recognised since its inception.

Today we honour two sets of persons:

  • Adults, 35 years and over, who have made their mark through unflinching commitment to service in their parishes, and
  • Young people who are already making a positive impact on their communities by excelling academically, professionally or in entrepreneurial activities.

Among the eleven recipients to be recognised today are individuals who continue to work tirelessly to help students and families in their communities, and at the schools from whence they came.  It is their way of ‘giving back’ to a society that helped to foster within them, an appreciation for hard work and a desire to achieve.

We have young Jamaicans in this group of awardees who despite their circumstances, believed in themselves and their ability to realise their dreams.  A common thread which runs through the lives of these young people is that they are all involved in one or more youth groups.  They have engaged themselves early in life in positive activities such as youth fellowship programmes, Scouts, Optimist Club and Key Club, where values and attitudes such as respect, fairness, punctuality, and integrity were inculcated in them.  The results of these efforts are evident before us this afternoon.  Before us are high academic achievers, professionals and people who have achieved dreams even beyond expectation.

GG Youth Award for Excellence
By acknowledging their sacrifices and their achievements, we are signaling to all young Jamaicans that there is a place for their skills, talents and creativity in national development.  I believe that young people must be constantly nurtured and encouraged.  I believe that we must channel their skills and talents as well as their innovativeness and creativity, until they make a difference in our society.

I therefore want to challenge these young persons today to be the catalyst for change and a motivator for other youth. Engage other young people in conversations whether face-to-face or through the many social network media with which you are quite familiar.

Adult Awardees
Our adult awardees are also very special.  They have achieved their personal and professional goals but were not content to sit on their laurels.  They recognised that their success is due in part to the sacrifices of others and the interest which their communities had in their development.

The persons who helped you along the way included teachers who gave extra lessons at no charge, neighbours who constantly encouraged and motivated you to stay on the right track and parents who made sacrifices so you could progress.  The important fact is that these awardees have not forgotten their roots, and continue to give back to society in order to change lives and improve the circumstances of the people around them.

Congratulate Awardees
I encourage the recipients of the Governor-General’s Achievement Awards and the Governor-General’s Youth Awards for Excellence to continue to promote self-sustaining, long-term socio-economic activities in your communities.  Your contribution through community development, homework assistance programme, sports among other activities is indeed significant, and will serve to forge national consensus and promote self-reliance and self-confidence among Jamaicans.

You have proven to be active, connected and caring citizens, and there is no doubt that your work and accomplishments demonstrate that any community, which has strong and innovative leaders at the forefront, and in which our youth are meaningfully engaged, can achieve self-sufficiency.

Gratitude to Sponsors, Planning Committee
I take this opportunity to publicly commend Mr. Morris, the Hon. Marcia Bennett Custos for St. Thomas and her committee, for planning this function.  Thanks also to the Custodes for parishes in the County of Surrey for identifying and supporting these awardees.

I must also thank the corporate sponsors:

  • The Gleaner Company of Jamaica
  • Jamaica National Building Society
  • Victoria Mutual Building Society
  • Scotia Jamaica Building Society
  • and First Caribbean International Building Society

Your continued support has helped to deepen the significance of this Governor-General Achievement Awards for the recipients, their families and their communities.  Your dedication to this Awards Scheme is highly appreciated.

I thank you.