145 receive Nat'l Heroes Day honours
By Trudy Simpson, Staff Reporter
Tuesday, October 22, 2002
The seven Jamaicans who were awarded the country's fifth highest honour, the Order of Jamaica (O.J.), received their awards yesterday from Governor-General Sir Howard Cooke. From left: the Hon. Emil George, Q.C.; the Hon. William 'Bill' Morris; the Hon. Daisy Coke, the Hon. Horace Clarke, the Hon. Derick Latibeaudiere, the Hon. Kingsley Thomas and the Hon. Phyllis McPherson-Russell (in photo below). - Norman Grindley /Staff Photographer
IT TOOK him more than 70 years but yesterday Juan Errington Thomson received national recognition for his dedication to music. It began in a simple way on March 12, 1928, when a young man first sat and played the organ at the Holy Rosary Church in Rollington Town in East Kingston. He was still playing the organ there 73 years later.
Thunderous applause greeted the wheelchair-bound senior, who was awarded the Badge of Honour for Meritorious service at yesterday's National Honours and Awards ceremony, held at Kings House.
Governor-General Sir Howard Cooke left the raised platform to greet him.
This was one of the memorable moments at Kings House as hundreds of dignitaries, Government officials, relatives and friends watched and cheered for the 145 persons who were awarded various national honours and awards on National Heroes Day.
They also admired the marching members of the First Battalion, the Jamaica Regiment, decked out in ceremonial garb and who formed a guard of honour for the first of two ceremonies. The second, for an additional 29 uniformed personnel, is scheduled for today.
It was the less well-known who stole hearts. Among them, 16-year-old Carlton Constantine Smith, who was awarded the badge of honour for gallantry for the valour and courage he displayed when he single-handedly rescued his unconscious grandmother from a motor car submerged in flood water on New Year's Day last year.
There were also spontaneous outpourings of "good, very good!" for correctional services officer, Donovan Hylton, who discovered an escape tunnel dug beneath a cell block at the Tower Street Correctional Centre (General Penitentiary) and risked his life by crawling into the tunnel where weapons and other contraband were eventually discovered.
They also hailed two police officers, Corporal Kevon Chambers and Constable Marlon Ricardo Grant, now healed from serious gunshot wounds they received when they were attacked by gunmen while carrying out police duties in April 2002 and July 2001 respectively.
Corporal Chambers received cheers as he limped to the raised platform on the lawns of Kings House to receive the Medal of Honour for Gallantry from Sir Howard.
The crowd was also delighted to see some of their favourite music, broadcast, Government, sports and political personalities.
"It's the tax man," audience members remarked at one point, evoking laughter, as director-general for Tax Administration, Clive Nicholas, stepped up to the platform. He was one of 28 persons who were awarded the Order of Distinction (Commander class, C.D.).
"Him mussi really big from all ah him tax, tax," a woman murmured while her companion whispered, "You know how it ah go go next year since him done get him award!"
Thirty-nine persons received the Order of Distinction (Officer class, O.D.). Among them were Walter Boothe, for service to cane farmers; Flight Lieutenant John Ebanks (Rtd), for his contribution to the welfare of ex-servicemen and Euphemia Williams, best known for defeating Prime Minister P.J. Patterson in East Westmoreland in the 1980 general election, for service to politics and the community.
"But wait, Euphemia Williams still exist? Somebody 'member har, T'ank God!" an elderly man piped up, as the audience laughed.
Netball legend, Connie Francis, and veteran musicians, Beresford Hammond and Leroy Sibbles, former classical music child prodigy, Jimmy Tucker, and DJ Patrick Barrett (Tony Rebel), also received awards for their contribution to music and entertainment. Francis and Hammond's awards were collected by their children.
"Go deh Sandie!" someone shouted as veteran 400 metres specialist Sandie Richards was honoured.
"It's such an honour to have this bestowed upon me... so hopefully I can live up to the standard that is expected. This brings more recognition to me as an athlete and it gives me the drive to do better, to try to make my fifth Olympic team. So this gives me a boost to go and do that," said Ms. Richards.