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2005-11-30 15:15:56

Queen's Honours Mocked and Defiled

Honour system abused by PLP government as religious con man Neil Ellis given an award.

As far as Chairman of the Cultural Commission Winston Saunders was concerned, yesterday was no time to focus on controversy, but was a time to graciously accept the award from the queen, which he and more than 20 other Bahamians received at Government House yesterday.

Catholic Archbishop Patrick Pinder was yesterday among 23 Bahamians who received the Queen's Birthday Honours. Archbishop Pinder was awarded the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George.  The award was conferred by retiring Governor General Dame Ivy Dumont as Prime Minister Perry Christie looked on.

The Commission has recommended that indigenous Bahamian awards be given to deserving Bahamians.

Rev. Sebastian Campbell, who heads the National Heroes Committee, had called on Mr. Saunders and other Bahamians to refuse to accept the Queen's Birthday Awards and push for the establishment of the Bahamian awards.

He contended that as chairman of the Cultural Commission, it is hypocritical for Mr. Saunders to accept the foreign awards.

But yesterday, the Cultural Commission chairman commented only briefly, expressing gratitude to the government for singling him out to receive the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George.

"I'm Bahamian; I'm proud," he told The Bahama Journal. "Thank you. My government honoured me; thank you."

Also receiving that award was Bishop Neil C. Ellis, pastor of Mount Tabor Full Gospel Baptist Church, who was recognized for his outstanding contribution as a pioneer to the spiritual development of The Bahamas.

He too was asked to comment on the controversy.

"As long as you live there will be controversy," said Bishop Ellis after the ceremony in the upper gardens at Government House. "You have to learn how to differentiate between controversy and good sense. For me, coming here was just good sense.

"This is the people's house and this is the people's award and I accept it graciously. If these awards are no longer and they're giving a different award and they want to give me one of them, I'd respond the same way."

The third recipient of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George was Catholic Archbishop Patrick Pinder, who was honoured for his steadfast dedication to the spiritual development of The Bahamas.

"I'm very gratified; I'm very happy," he said. "Obviously it's an expression of gratitude, not for anything I've done, but certainly for the work of the Catholic community in The Bahamas, not only in the area of religion, but in terms of all the work we do in terms of social development over the years."

Rev. Dr. Lavania Stewart was awarded the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for her steadfast dedication to the spiritual upliftment of women in The Bahamas.

Receiving the same award was Bahamas Telecommunication Company Chairman Reno Brown for his contribution to the economic development of The Bahamas in the area of banking.

Mr. Brown said he was "overwhelmed" and "very humbled" after receiving the award.

"It's very nice to be appreciated," he told The Bahama Journal. But he said he wished not to comment on the controversy regarding the queen's honours versus indigenous awards.

He did, however, say, "I think people formulate their own opinions about certain things. I think there're lots of others who believe that they are appreciated and if that's a way of recognizing appreciation I'm all for it."

Thomas Albert Sands was posthumously awarded the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for outstanding service to The Bahamas in the sphere of politics and community service; and Pastor Thomas H. Roberts also received that award for his contribution and exemplary service to the spiritual development of The Bahamas.

Receiving the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire were also Helen Annie Russell for her outstanding and dedicated service to the educational system of The Bahamas; Theresa Clara Huyler for her outstanding contribution to the nursing profession and the community; and Jane Fitzroy Bethel for her outstanding dedication to the community.

Other honourees in that category were Franklyn Ellis for his outstanding dedication to the music industry of The Bahamas; Rev. Havard Samuel Cooper for his dedication to the spiritual development of The Bahamas; and Samuel C. Stubbs for his contribution to the political development of The Bahamas.

Receiving the British Empire Medal were Lucille Adderley, Ida Josephine Swain, Mabel Stubbs, Evangelist Ceaserinia Hepburn, Leroy Alexander Neely, Eunice Majorie Thurston; Arlington Mackey; and Israel "Bonefish Folly" Rolle for outstanding and dedicated service to the community over many years.

Mr. Rolle told The Bahama Journal that he was also grateful and delighted to receive yet another award from his country. He has been honoured by the Ministry of Tourism in the past.

Receiving the Queen's Police Medal at Government House yesterday were Alonzo Butler and Basil Dean for long and devoted service to the growth and development of the community as law enforcement officers.

"I think it's wonderful," Mr. Dean said.

"When you're serving your country you never think in terms of reward, but after all the years the country is gratified for your service and the country says thanks, it gives you a wonderful feeling inside. It motivates you to go even further and I will continue to dedicate the rest of my life toward helping the country in which ever way I can, particularly in law enforcement."

During the ceremony, Prime Minister Perry Christie said the honourees are all legends in their own right.

"Continue to be strong," he urged.

"Continue to contribute to the good citizenship of our country. Continue to believe in all that is good about our country as we move forward and to know that moments like these are the precious moments that we must share together when we rise above all the divisions that divide us in our country and we come together in celebration, in honour of good citizenship that is being recognized."

Yesterday's ceremony was the final one presided over by Governor General Dame Ivy Dumont, who retires today.

By: Candia Dames, The Bahama Journal

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