‘Inspiring Individuals, Building Stronger Communities’

Thank you for joining Lady Allen and me for the Governor-General’s Achievement Award (GGAA) for the County of Cornwall, to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of the 2016 recipients.
This celebration is quite significant as it marks the 25th anniversary of this seminal award.
We commenced the celebratory activities with a Thanksgiving Service on June 5, at the Webster Memorial United Church and on June 19, special church services were held for GGAA recipients in each parish, under the leadership of the Custos. Other activities will be held throughout the year culminating with the Pinning Ceremony in November.
Today, as many persons across the globe celebrate World Olympic Day, a tradition dating back to 1948 and one to signal the imminent World Games in Rio, I pause to celebrate with you – my star athletes – who are carefully carrying the torch of service and passing on the baton of volunteering for community development.
The spirit of volunteerism which has ignited a flame is burning courage in the hearts of many persons in the communities of the County of Cornwall – Petersfield and Albert Town in particular, and also Beeston Spring. We thank you, because through your various projects you have become beacons of hope: the hope necessary to guide our youth into viable and positive nation building activities. My heartfelt congratulations on a job well done! We applaud your awareness of the need to harness the potentials of our youth and direct them to purposeful objectives!
GGAA Background
I also pause to acknowledge and applaud the vision of my predecessors Governors-General, the late Sir Howard Cooke and Sir Kenneth Hall who established the GGAA 25 years ago in 1991 and expanding it before handing the baton to me. I am grateful for the foundations they laid and on which I have been able to build and broaden the GGAA platform to become part of the Governor-General’s Programme for Excellence (GGPE) – a programme which also includes the I Believe Initiative (IBI), launched in 2011.
Ladies and gentlemen it has been an exhilarating journey. Epic if you may, for the GGAA. (There were many hurdles to overcome)! For over a quarter century it became the embodiment of excellence in service; it carries many stories of aspiration, inspiration, transformation and fulfilled dreams – recognizing the ‘smaddification’ of hundreds of individuals who did not receive National Honors – but who were worthy to be recognized by the highest office in the land.
Theme: Inspiring Individuals, Building Stronger Communities
The theme for this 25th year of the GGAA is “Inspiring Individuals, Building Stronger Communities.” This is a theme I am sure will resonate with you who are painstakingly involved in the building of your communities through your selfless efforts. I was recently reminded that the happiest people are not those who are not getting more, but who are giving more. The selfless service you give to your communities is bringing optimism to those who may otherwise be in despair.
Ladies and gentlemen in this global paradigm where many of us spend our time in virtual spaces, it may be helpful to define community. A community is a group of people living in one district; it can also be defined as a group with shared origin or interest, the public, society. The definition with which I am concerned is the group of people living in one district, the public or society. 
A community should be a safe haven for families to thrive. It should be that place of choice for our citizen under the leadership of Justices of Peace, many of whom serve on the Custos parish committee. A community will be as strong as its weakest link. You can never spell nor experience community without UNITY – a unity which is underpinned by genuine emotion, compassion and care. I am cognizant that in this millennial generation there is another type of community known as the virtual or cyber community, where many people of common interests, locations, lifestyles or backgrounds interact and impact each other using different types of computer messages. I am one of the chief proponents of the new communication technology, but the challenge we will have as a result of those communities, if not balanced, many of its ‘residents/citizens’ can lose the ‘human touch’ forgetting how to interact or act with sincerity, humanity or compassion in the ‘real world’ community. So I challenge you to also go to that new frontier and make a difference.
Values to be Espoused 
As an extended Jamaican family we need to re-evaluate ourselves, an evaluation which begins in the home. For the good of our country, we must break down everything that divides us and strive together to restore Jamaica to being a country where:
•Every village is involved in teaching, caring, disciplining, discipling and protecting our children.
•Respect is shown to the elderly and being each other’s keeper and loving our neighbour as ourselves are the norm.
•And pass the process on to the next generation in an unbroken cycle, to combat the ills of our society too numerous to mention here.
I charge you therefore awardees to challenge yourself, to prove to our country that our confidence in you was not misplaced. Let us show to the world what it means to execute service above self as recipients of the 2016 Governor-General’s Achievement Award.
I use this opportunity to acknowledge and thank our Custodes, Members of the Parish Committees, the National Coordinator, Project Officer of the GGPE, Governor-General’s Secretary and other members of the King’s House staff for the indefatigable efforts in making this programme a success.
The sponsors – Gleaner Company, Jamaica National Building Society, Victoria Mutual Building Society, Scotia Jamaica Building Society, Jamaica Broilers Group Limited and Flow. I acknowledge and thank you for your committed support at various points on this rewarding odyssey. To those who started the good work from 1991 and are still on board and those who recognized its value and joined, you must be specially applauded for sharing the ideals of the GGAA along the way.
Without your support today would not have been possible! 
 In conclusion
I urge all Jamaicans to continue to embrace the spirit of volunteerism, and service to family, youth and education to build stronger communities. Remember the universal law of reciprocity – if you want to lift yourself up, lift up somebody else. These awards bestowed on our recipients this afternoon bear testimony to their commitment to excellence in service and firmness of character.
I am confident that you will live up to the high ideals that this award represents. 
Congratulations also to your families, spouses and significant others who have supported your efforts.
I remind my fellow Jamaicans that, no act of kindness, no matter how small is ever wasted.
Therefore, be the change we wish to see in the world.
Thank you!