Lady Allen and I are pleased to be here to celebrate with the families, friends and well-wishers of the fourteen 2015 Governor-General Achievement Awardees for Middlesex County. Your purpose and presence here can only be matched with the pride and joy we feel for our athlete’s performance in the IAAF Champions on in Beijing.
Also, allow me to extend heartiest congratulations to the families of Othneil Nichols and Gavane Palmer, from this parish, who copped a gold medal in the 1500 metres and bronze in division three of the half marathon, respectively, at the Special Olympics just concluded in California.
It is very refreshing to have you here this afternoon to celebrate what is right with Jamaica even though there is so much concern and grief over the crime wave which is sweeping across the country. We need to revalue ourselves as a people and a nation. And this must begin in each and every home. Let us return to our traditional concept where the village raises the child, education is valued and individuals strive to play their part in nation building. Recent news coming from this parish is not particularly impressive. There is just too much crime and mayhem affecting all age groups!
For the good of our country, we must break down whatever divides us and strive together to restore Jamaica to being a country where:
· Every community is involved in caring, teaching, disciplining and protecting our children in our homes, communities and on the streets.
· Respect is shown to the elderly, being each other’s keeper and loving our neighbours as ourselves are the norm.
As Clarendon’s own world renown poet Claude McKay aptly puts it,
“If we must die, let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot, ….
So that our precious blood may not be shed In vain”
These Awardees reaffirm our belief that there are enough good people in Jamaica to cause us not to despair, but rather collaborate to keep our country on solid ground. Our Awardees today exemplify the way our people should live to bring an end to the decadence and immorality which have wrought so much harm in our country.
I have every confidence that today they join me in declaring that:
· We have to end the culture of silence and instead, cooperate with the security forces.
· Gangs must be disbanded and trafficking in drugs and guns must be eradicated.
· The bloodshed must end!
The individual achievement of each of you being honoured today underscore the relevance of the 2015 GGAA theme: Values through Volunteerism: Impacting Communities One Community at a time. We thank you, because through your various community projects you have become beacons of hope: the hope necessary to guide our youth into positively viable action.
There are tremendous benefits to volunteering!
Many plausible researches have shown that one of the better-known benefits of volunteering is the impact on the community, in making it a better place.
· boosts your social skills and strengthen existing relationships,
· broadens your support network,
· learn new skills and gain experiences,
· meet new people and expand your network of contacts, or
· get a new job or start a career
There are many successful Jamaicans in music, communications, and global affairs from this and other parishes within the County of Middlesex who have successfully forged ahead and created personal and professional success.
I can readily think of National Heroes Norman Washington Manley and Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Broadcaster Ms. Fae Ellington, Musician Toots and the Maytals, Prime Minister the Hon. Portia Simpson Miller and many more. They did not start at the top nor fell prey to the negatives surrounding them, neither did they stand back and wait for the leader. They simply used their God given talent and drive to attain what they have accomplished.
The Governor-General Achievement Awards has been merged with the I Believe Initiative (IBI) to form the Governor-General’s Programme for Excellence (GGPE). Merging the GGAA with the IBI in 2011 has created a unique platform for us to share positive values and reward.
The I Believe Initiative is predicated on the development of family values, education and youth empowerment. We are unflinching with our IBI mantra that there is nothing wrong with Jamaica that cannot be fixed by what is right with Jamaica. You the awardees display attributes which qualify you to become IBI ambassadors to help strengthen and sustain our efforts in this regard.
We are grateful for those organizations and individuals who year after year have stood with us in promoting the positive messages and encouraging the qualities which the GGAA seeks to build.
I am deeply indebted to you.
· Please join me in recognizing: our loyal Corporate Sponsors who consistently demonstrate their faith in our people and commitment to their empowerment through the GGAA:
§ Jamaica Broilers
§ Jamaica National Building Society
§ Scotia Jamaica Building Society
§ The Gleaner Company
§ Victoria Mutual Building Society
· A round of applause, please, as we express our thanks to the exemplary Custodes from this county and their respective Parish Committees!
· We recognize also the hard-working National Coordinator, Major (Ret’d) Effiom Whyte and Project Officer, Miss Tricia Grier.
· Special thanks to the team from King’s House whose commitment is essential to the success of ceremonies such as this.
Let us all join hands with our awardees, to become volunteers, messengers of goodwill in our respective communities to help fix what is wrong with Jamaica by what is right with it.
God bless you!