A pleasant good morning to you all and Lady Allen joins me in extending a warm welcome to King’s House. Enjoyable and memorable experience here today.
Since 1991 the Governor-General’s Achievement Awards Programme has recognised Jamaicans from humble beginnings or circumstances who, despite adversities, have excelled in various areas of endeavour and in return they are giving back to their community and country.
To date over four hundred such persons have received this award which is presented in four categories.
o The Governor-General’s Achievement Award
o The Award of Excellence
o The Youth Award for Excellence and
o The Jamaican Diaspora Biennial Award of Excellence
o And in addition to the awards there is the ‘I Believe’ Youth Consultative County Conferences which evolved from the Youth Consultative Breakfasts. The IBI seeks to inspire young Jamaicans to believe in themselves – achieve their potentials for the good of themselves and is an integral aspect of the Governor-General’s Programmes
This year, in celebration of the fiftieth year of our independence, one individual from each parish will receive the Independence Award of Excellence for their contribution to community development during the past fifty years.
How has Jamaica benefited from the contribution of Awardees
In a short while our Moderator will speak about the life stories of these individuals and how their communities have benefited from their involvement.
You will recognize too that our history and tradition of volunteerism in Jamaica has not diminished. Rather, more and more people are accepting the challenge of contributing to positive change in our island.
Long before the inception of the awards programme, GGAA awardees have been instrumental in creating social capital and helping other Jamaicans to achieve success.
Through their efforts, values such as integrity, caring, sharing, forgiveness and respect; which values that helped to develop our society and define us as a people, have been instilled in the consciousness of persons touched by their efforts.
The GGAA is twinned in purpose and mission with the ‘I Believe’ Initiative which I launched in 2011.
o In both instances the underlying concept is that ‘there is nothing wrong with Jamaica that cannot be fixed by what is right with Jamaica.’
o Together these programmes affirm the contribution of Jamaicans and celebrate their achievements, with a view to inspiring other Jamaicans to do well.
o The celebration of excellence by the GGAA and the IBI is a means of overcoming the wave of negativity which seems to be engulfing too many of our people. People must believe in themselves and their potential to achieve their goals through hard work, a determined focus and fixity of purpose.
We have to tell our own stories about how we overcame challenges in order to achieve success. If we do not then other people will tell them for us and create an image that does not reflect who we are as Jamaicans. Besides, it is our story of success, despite hardships, which will inspire the next generation to climb to even higher heights than ourselves
- I extend deep gratitude and high commendations to our Custodes and their parish committees for their diligent and meticulous approach to identifying the awardees, and for working together with Corporate Jamaica to plan and execute the programmes in your respective parish.
- I thank the corporate sponsors for their continued participation in the Awards Programme. The support of the Gleaner Company, Jamaica National Building Society, Victoria Mutual Building Society, Scotia Jamaica Building Society and CIBC First Caribbean International Bank help to deepen their importance and relevance to Jamaicans at home and in the Diaspora.
- Even though we are not awarding IBI Ambassadors in this programme, we thank them and the sponsors who helped with the recently concluded Youth Consultative Conferences.
- This Pinning Ceremony would not have materialized without the dedication and commitment of National Coordinator Mr. Hugh Morris. I thank you Mr. Morris for making the GGAA a series of success over the years.
- I would also like to thank the members of the National Committee who have been guiding the growth and development of the Awards Programme since its inception.
- I believe that Jamaica has made significant progress over the past fifty years because of the contribution of unsung heroes like our awardees. They have shown us that ‘it is not where you are coming from, but where you are going that really matters.’ Through them we recognize that within the crises and obstacles facing us lay the seeds of opportunity, hope and renewal. Through your efforts we hope that the next fifty years will be bright.
- I thank you