Lady Allen and I are very pleased to celebrate with the families, friends and well-wishers of the thirteen 2015 Governor-General Achievement Awardees for the County of Cornwall. 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, in particular- this county. These Awardees reaffirm our belief that there are enough good people in Jamaica to cause us not to give in to despair, but rather collaborate to keep our country on solid ground.

As a country we regret the loss of lives to violence and mishaps, but when the protectors of the peace are being attacked, we all must be concerned and help to combat such attacks. We pause to remember all members of the security forces who have been killed in the line of duty, including the most recent victims, Constables Crystal Thomas and Lynden Barrett from the Denham Town Police Station. All of us gathered at this Awards Ceremony grieve with the bereaved families to whom we extend our deepest condolences.

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 caring, teaching, disciplining and protecting our children in our homes, communities and on the streets.
  • Respect is shown to the elderly and being our each other’s keeper and loving our neighbour as ourselves are the norm.

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:

  • The bloodshed must end!
  • We must get rid of the vices, including the lotto scamming, which have ruined our international reputation and are destroying several homes and lives.
  • Gangs must be disbanded and trafficking in drugs and guns must be eradicated.
  • We have to end the culture of silence and instead, cooperate with the security forces.

Together, we must build a strong nation as we reverence the sanctity of life and restore hope and confidence in Jamaica Land we Love.

The theme of this year’s GGAA is Values through Volunteerism: Impacting Communities One Community at a time. Its relevance is demonstrated by the individual achievements of each of the thirteeen awardees being honoured today.

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.

Volunteerism is rewarding.

And here, I am not speaking about monetary gain, but about the all important strength of character which it gives and the lives it enhances. The value of volunteering is much deeper, much more fulfilling and much more important than money can ever measure. After all, how can we put a monetary value on ordinary people doing extraordinary things?

The great scientist and philosopher, Albert Einstein, once said “Not everything that counts can be counted. And not everything that can be counted, counts.”

Whatever volunteers achieve at the community level impacts the parish, the nation, the region and invariably the world. That counts!

It also counts that through volunteering, people gain:

  • new skills and experiences,
  • meet new people and expand their network of contacts, or
  • get a new job or start a career

I am grateful for the vision of my predecessors on whose foundation I have been able to create the Governor-General’s Programme for Excellence, by merging the GGAA with the I Believe Initiative (IBI) which I launched in 2011.

Awardees, your spirit of volunteerism has ignited a flame that is burning hope in the hearts of many persons in their respective locales.You display attributes which qualify you to become IBI ambassadors to help strengthen and sustain our efforts to develop family values, education and youth empowerment.

Ladies and gentlemen, as the good Book says, the harvest is plenty but the labourers are few! We are grateful for those who year after year have stood with us in promoting the positive messages and encouraging the attributes which the GGAA seeks to build.

  • Please join me in recognizing our faithful Corporate Sponsors who consistently demonstrate their faith in our people and commitment to their empowerment!
  • 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, especially the Public Relations Unit 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.

Together we can make things happen as we demonstrate our love for someone every day; helping the wandering ones to find their way; doing our best from dawn of day till night; following truth and justice as the blind long for light. This is the task we have undertaken as we serve our families, our communities, our parishes, our country and our God!

May God bless you and bless Jamaica, Land we love!