Ten (10) years ago today, I took the Oath of Office as Governor-General. It has been an interesting journey. I have met many people, made new friends, had varying experiences and learned a lot during these past years.

Lady Allen and I have visited all Custodes in their respective Parishes and seen you at work. Since 2009, I have sworn in 15 Custodes to Office, 15 have retired, and six (6) have passed on: Custos Gordon (Kingston), Custos Farquharson (St Elizabeth), Custos Barrett (Trelawny), Custos DeRoux (Clarendon), Custos McKitty (St Mary), and Custos Sinclair (Westmoreland).

I thank you for your support, diligence and representation in the Parishes. You have carried out your work with earnest commitment, dedication, and dignity and you have helped to make my work easier.

One of the highlights of each year is the Governor-General’s Achievement Award presentations in the three Counties when deserving persons and those who have achieved excellence are recognized. You have done a marvelous job in selecting and presenting recipients for Awards. The Awards Ceremonies this year will be:
• Surrey (Kingston) – Thursday, April 25.
• Cornwall (Hanover) – Thursday, May 30.
• Middlesex (Clarendon) – Thursday, June 27.
You have been advised of these dates already so you can start planning. Talk to the civic and business leaders and begin identifying individuals for Awards. However, do not feel compelled to recommend someone because you feel you have to fill a category. The persons whom you recommend must be truly outstanding in their areas.

In the Observer of Friday, February 8, there was a story of a young man from St.Mary who went from having one car battery to building a $17 million business. His ‘rags to riches’ story makes for interesting reading. In the newspaper report, he is quoted as saying, ‘It’s about doing something constructive on the frontline because sometimes things can make out of nothing.’ It is persons like these whom we want to encourage with these Awards.

US President Thomas Jefferson once commented, and I quote, “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”
The GGAA is constantly searching for people with the ‘right mental attitude’ who will turn negative experiences into positive opportunities, and make lemonade when life serves them lemons. As National Hero Marcus Garvey once said, “Take advantage of every opportunity, where there is none, make it for yourself.”

In my Inaugural Speech, I posited the idea that people must believe in themselves, help themselves, and try to use what is right to correct what is wrong. I am pleased that that initial idea has resonated with many, and what was an idea has now morphed into the I Believe Initiative with which you are all familiar.

I still believe, as I did 10 years ago, that self-reliance, excellence, resilience, and doing the right thing are values by which we can live successful lives, and will cause our country to prosper.

I am blessed to have such a supportive group of Custodes. You appreciate the dignity of this Office as well as your own roles. Your annual reports tell me the kind of work that you do in your respective parishes. We have a full year of activities ahead of us and I know I can rely on your assistance. I encourage you to continue the good work you began, see it to completion, and “not be weary in well-doing.”

We today thank Custos Porteous, a true Aquarian who has retired as of February 1, but is continuing until a successor is sworn in. Custos Porteous has carried out her work with enthusiasm, commitment, integrity and hard work and has ably represented the people of Manchester.

Continue being strong, effective leaders in your parishes. Provide direction, motivation, inspiration, and guidance; lead by example, recognise success, and empower others.
Do what you can to nurture the strengths and talents of your parishioners and encourage them to achieve their goals. Remember, Leadership is about doing the right things.

Thank you.