Good afternoon.

Lady and I are pleased that you could join us today and you to the function to honour our Custodes.  I extend a special welcome to our newly appointed Custodes and their spouses, who are joining us at our annual Custodes Luncheon for the very first time:

  • The Honourable Lincoln Thaxter, Custos Rotulorum for the parish of Portland and Mrs. Dorrett Thaxter;
  • The Honourable Beryl Rochester, first female Custos Rotulorum for the parish of St. Elizabeth;
  • The Honourable Norma Walters, Custos Rotulorum for the parish of St. Ann, and the Honourable Radcliffe Walters who are no strangers to this event.  Mrs. Walters recently created history by being the first female Custos of St. Ann and the first Custos to succeed a spouse in the office. They are here together this afternoon in reverse roles and they seem to be enjoying it.

Honourable Custodes, your appointment reflects the confidence we repose in your ability to serve with impartiality, compassion and understanding.  I know that you will provide the kind of leadership which will inspire and encourage individuals and organizations in your parishes. I hope that your passion for service and for improving peoples’ lives will help to restore the kinder, more caring and productive communities which Jamaica needs.

To those Custodes who demitted office last year:

  • The Honourable Radcliffe Walters;
  • The Honourable Roy Thompson;
  • and the Honourable Wilfred Nembhard,

I express my heartfelt appreciation for your commitment to the people of Jamaica, displayed in your personal lives and also in your role as Custodes.  Together you have given thirty years of service to the office of Custos Rotulorum. I commend you for the work that you have done to help advance our country’s goal to build a strong nation where people can enjoy a higher quality of life, despite the challenges.  I am certain that you will give your fullest support to your respective successors.

At the personal level, Lady and I appreciate the friendship and the support you have always afforded us, as well as your faithful support for the programmes of King’s House.  I want you to know that your demitting office does not release you from the bond of friendship. We wish you the best; good health and success and satisfaction in all your future undertakings.

Honourable Custodes, ladies and gentlemen, the Annual Custodes reports admit to the fact that there are various challenges you face in the respective parishes.  I am heartened that you are working with the various stakeholders to overcome these challenges in ways which give people faith in their innate ability, and that they also can make a difference.  Your ingenuity and problem-solving approach have reaffirmed my conviction that there is nothing wrong with Jamaica that cannot be fixed by what is right with Jamaica.

Recent events that have unfolded in our country, especially those affecting infants and young children, suggest that we have come to a tipping point.  In my inaugural address – delivered five years ago this week – I called on Jamaicans to use “their creative genius to develop and implement a survival package for our country.” I urged that we “seize the moment, lest – like sand – it slips away, never to return.”  That call remains even more relevant today.

Honourable Custodes, your role is critical in this process of developing the rescue package that is needed in the homes, in the parishes, and hopefully it will spill over in to the nation.  Please resolve to be change agents in your parishes, as we work to pull Jamaica back from looming destruction.  We too must be deliberately seized with the responsibility to set about restoring the morals, the values and the principles on which our forefathers built this nation.

As the first citizen in the parish, you are vested with the authority and the moral suasion, and you give leadership to the most influential persons – the Justices of the Peace.  Use the tools that are available to you and let’s together continue the building process.

We have the tools and the resources available in our collective experiences, our skills, aptitude and knowledge.  They exist in

  • our traditional values, our churches, schools, families, community associations, as well as among professionals in both public and private sector; you touch the lives of all these organizations and individuals.
  • Youth organizations such as the 4-H Clubs and uniformed groups that have served our country well for decades, and in
  • The twin arms of the Governor-General’s Programme for Excellence: the GGAA and the IBI, to which I challenge you to give leadership to the best of your ability.  And in this way I want to take this opportunity to thank our outgoing coordinator for the Governor-General’s Achievement Award, Mr. Hugh Morris.  We welcome Captain Effiom Whyte who is going to coordinate the combined Governor-General’s programmes.


Our national goal, set out in Vision 2030, calls for us to work to make Jamaica become the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business.  Others have come to Jamaica and commented on our natural resources and wonderfully warm and hospitable people.  Many have used these resources to their advantage and so must we!  We must be kind and hospitable to each other!  That’s the message we need to carry.  We have the message of ‘One Love.’  Let’s get together and feel alright.

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you all for being here.  I wish you a pleasant afternoon and, later, a safe journey home.