Good afternoon to you all!

We have just heard the very shocking news of the passing of the Hon. Roger Clarke. Having already observed a moment of silence, kindly allow me to express my sincerest condolences on his passing. I also ask that you all pray for his family during this very difficult period.

On July 11, 2014 Jamaica lost a great man and founder of Governor-General’s Achievement Award, the Most Honourable Sir Howard Cooke.  Sir Howard, the man who was called “Teacher”, from this County of Cornwall, devoted himself to a life of service in the building of our nation. This humble man whose productive path took him from the cane fields to King’s House, has left an unforgettable legacy. Sir Howard’s contributions impacted on education, national politics, government, insurance and trade union.

Many individuals benefited from his generosity as he used every opportunity to invest in the lives of others, in particular the less fortunate. Today we celebrate him as the pioneer of the Governor-General’s Achievement Awards. We remember him, as we acknowledge persons who have volunteered their time, energy and talents, to positively impact their communities and this nation.

Let us observe a minute of silence in tribute to the late and Most Hon. Sir Howard Felix Hanlan Cooke.

Even before 1991, the inaugural year of the GGAA, it was evident that our people are “what is right with Jamaica.”  Now, twenty-three years later, it is reflected in the theme for this year’s GGAA ceremony “There is nothing wrong with Jamaica that cannot be fixed by what is right with Jamaica.”  As you would be aware, this is the mantra of the “I Believe” Initiative, which is the other arm of the Governor-General’s Programme for Excellence.

This afternoon, I am very pleased to share with this splendid gathering, our recognition of 14 Jamaicans from the County of Cornwall.  We recognize today:

(1) individuals who have overcome odds and succeeded and are selflessly contributing to building their communities,

(2) young persons who have prevailed over difficulties and have excelled academically.

They will receive the Governor-General’s Achievement Award (GGAA), not as in a graduation but as in a commencement ceremony where they continue giving of their best in all situations.

Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in applauding our recipients.

Recipients, be proud of your achievements!  To be bestowed with this honour is testimony to your commitment to excellence.  Congratulations!  You have now joined the cadre of GGAA Awardees who continue to make their contribution to nation building.

I remain encouraged by the selflessness embodied in you as you voluntarily contributed to your communities often times with minimal resources and financial support.  You have chosen to be a part of Jamaica’s transformation into the place of choice defined in Vision 2030, where we “live, work, raise families and do business.”

I am convinced that Jamaica can achieve that Vision, because of you and other Awardees all across this nation, and also because I believe in Jamaica!

We will achieve this vision by:

  • working together effectively, committing our best to the tasks at hand and with integrity;
  • we will achieve this vision by motivating our people to adopt the philosophy, mindset and outlook which is deserving of this prestigious award;
  • we will achieve this vision by participating in and spreading the message of the I Believe Initiative.

We will help the youth to believe that they too can “accomplish what they will” by using their God-given potential to:

  • achieve their dreams,
  • improve the welfare of their families, and
  • build a better Jamaica.


Ladies and gentlemen, you know my passion for influencing our youth to strive for excellence.  My King’s House team, with the support of a fine group of Sponsors, our Custodes and Justices of the Peace, has adopted this passion which we pursue through the Governor-General’s Programme For Excellence (GGPE).  This is the umbrella organization for the GGAA and the ‘I Believe Initiative’, which will keep their distinct identities but have coalesced to promote and recognize volunteerism and excellence among our youth.

It was Winston Churchill who said, and I quote, “to change is to improve.” In that vein and after twenty-three years, the 2014 GGPE implemented the following measures to improve the GGAA and IBI:

• The GGAA programme essentially remains the same and is guided by the theme “there is nothing wrong with Jamaica that cannot be fixed by what is right with Jamaica.”

  • All awardees would have done voluntary service in the areas of family, youth and education, which are the three pillars of IBI activity.
  • The GGAA now includes an ‘essay component’ in an effort to capture the thoughts, outlook and suitability of the persons being awarded for excellence.


Most of you already know that in February our former National Coordinator of the GGAA, Mr. Hugh Morris, completed his service with us. Please help me acknowledge, even in his absence, Mr. Morris, who did a good job at the helm of the GGAA for more than a decade. Major (retired) Effiom Whyte has succeeded him as the current National Coordinator. Major Whyte, who joined us during the merging of the GGAA and IBI, has jumped right into the saddle. We are pleased to have him on board as we know that the programme will benefit from his wealth of experience in the air and on the ground.

I wish to thank the Honourable Custodes of the parishes in Cornwall and their respective parish committees who, as usual, were instrumental in selecting the awardees. The GGAA continues to depend on your loyalty, excellent judgement and encouragement to prospective awardees. Honourable Beryl Rochester, Custos Rotulorum for the host parish of St Elizabeth, we offer you a very special word of gratitude. Although you were only recently installed as Custos, you enthusiastically jumped into action, thus displaying the true spirit of a former GGAA recipient.  With the support of your efficient team, you are successfully hosting this GGAA ceremony, the third major function in your parish this year.

Congratulations to all of you!

I must also recognize our Corporate Sponsors who have partnered with us to ensure the success of the GGAA programme. Since 1991, four of them: The Gleaner Company, the Jamaica National Building Society, the Victoria Mutual Building Society and the Scotia Jamaica Building Society,  have remained faithfully supportive. For the first time this year, we welcome on board the Jamaica Broilers Group and hope they will remain permanently on board with us.

Ladies and gentlemen, please help me acknowledge our sponsors all of whom are represented here.

I pause here to specially recognize The Gleaner Company Limited who are also marking their 180th year of service to Jamaica.  I believe that deserves a special round of applause.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In every walk of life, let us all serve so that this and future generations may enjoy even better opportunities than we were afforded.

Congratulations to the 2014 GGAA recipients from Cornwall!

Thank you.  May God bless you all!