MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 2, 2013
Lady Allen joins me in extending a very warm welcome to King’s House and to thank everyone for your presence at this investiture ceremony. Lord Prior of the Order of St. John, Professor Anthony Mellows and Mrs. Mellows, I am especially pleased to welcome you to Jamaica and to King’s House. Thank you sir for leading out in the Investiture.
It is with humility that I receive this prestigious award, the Knight of Grace of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem. Serving as Patron of the National Council of the St. John Association in Jamaica, has already afforded me the honour of affiliation with this noble organization. This act epitomizes my life and objective to be of service to my fellow men, my God, spending my whole life mending broken people! It has also allowed me to recommit myself to that purpose.
The Order of St. John is a source of inspiration to all who are called to service and a constant reminder to look outward beyond our immediate circumstance and focus on the needs of the less fortunate. The selfless dedication which is the hallmark of staff and volunteers all across the globe, the Order’s contribution to humanity and the respect with which it is held internationally, make this investiture all the more meaningful to me.
In reflecting on the role and international contribution of the Order of St. John, Nelson Mandela, Bailiff Grand Cross of the Order of St. John stated, “St. John’s focus on primary health care, especially amongst the poorest of the poor, and its capacity to tap the most generous and caring human impulses, gives it a special place in our hearts.” On the basis of my own experience in Jamaica, I can unreservedly endorse Mr. Mandela’s view.
The long history of the Order of St. John has not been without struggles and obstacles, but we have successfully overcome them. Today St. John is endorsed by the international community, including the United Nations. It is the lessons learnt along that journey which have sustained the organization and which are reflected in the patience and gratitude with which volunteers serve, even as they hope for and work towards the best outcome in difficult and desperate circumstances.
The work of the Order of St John and in particular the St. John’s Ambulance has been fully embraced by the people of Jamaica since 1899. During the Second World War St. John volunteers performed duties both at the refugee and detention camp at Mona, now the University of the West Indies, and also at the Kingston Public Hospital.
I can attest to the professional and quality service provided by the staff and volunteers as they build on the legacy of their predecessors. They are involved in rescuing and caring for the sick, injured and homeless, as well as victims of hurricanes and other natural disasters. Their presence at major sporting events, international conferences and wherever crowds assemble such as Independence celebrations or the National Honours and Awards ceremonies is always reassuring.
A wide variety of organisations, institutions and individuals have benefited from first aid training offered by St. John in Jamaica. During the period 2009 to 2012 over 3000 persons were trained in hazard awareness and emergency first aid as part of the St John Caribbean Disaster Preparedness Programme.
So ladies and gentlemen, I want to use this opportunity to thank:
- The chairman Mr. Earl Jarrett, staff and volunteers of the National Council of the St. John Association in Jamaica for carrying the Order’s flag with dignity, proficiency and compassion.
- The officers for making the recommendation to our Sovereign Head of the Order, Queen Elizabeth ll and for this to culminate today in this prestigious occasion.
- Hon. Prime Minister, family and friends, our heartfelt gratitude for sharing in this occasion.
Lord Prior, I assure you of my highest esteem for this award and for the work of the Order of St. John and pledge to do my part to advance its objectives.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you.