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Tribute to Belizean Patriots 2017 Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 20 September 2017 00:00

On Thursday September 14 the annual Tribute to Belizean Patriots and awards ceremony was held. A total of 22 exemplary persons received awards of distinction. Of those, two persons received the Order of Distinction while the remaining twenty men and women received the Meritorious Service Award. The annual event was held at the Bliss Institute for Performing Arts and serves as an opportunity to recognize and honor Belizeans who have dedicated their lives to serving their country and people.

In a message from the Prime Minister of Belize, the Rt. Hon. Dean Oliver Barrow, the event continues to be an important part of our September celebrations and although it does not draw the crowd of the annual fireworks display, “it has developed into one of the outstanding high points to our celebrations.”

First to be recognized was Dr. Betty Flinchum. The awardee of the Order of Distinction was one of the founding members of the Consortium for Belize Educational Cooperation (COBEC) in 1988. She was also a founding co-chair of the University College of Belize (UCB) alongside H.E. Sir Colville Young, the then president of UCB. Throughout the 1990s, Dr. Flinchum worked with the junior colleges in Belize to create agreements with the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida for student transition to occur with minimal credit loss. She has also served as a professional mentor to leaders in education across Belize’s tertiary education system.

Also to receive the Order of Distinction was Henry Vallan Young Sr. who is responsible for the existence of the Bird’s Isle after having an idea of a social and sporting entertainment venue in 1970. In 1975, Young led the campaign to introduce and establish the modern Carnival Road March in Belize. Young also became a politician in 1984, winning a seat in the House of Representatives as a candidate in the Port Loyola Division under the United Democratic Party. In the area, he assisted in the development of a clinic, a preschool, and a community center. Between 1985-1989 and 1993-1998, Young acted as Minister of Tourism and was active in the role of promoting cruise tourism in Belize. In 2007, he was awarded the Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for his dedication to the economy of Belize.

The next to be awarded were Patricia Yvonne Bennett, known for her contribution to softball in Belize and for her works in the education system, Marion Diane Finnegan, advocate for women’s abuse and gender issues, HIV/AIDS counselor, program director at the YMCA, counselor at the Kolbe Foundation, and present Coordinator of the Youth Apprenticeship Program, and Lucille Alterieth Heusner, registered nurse and midwife and an activist in the protest to Bethuel Webster proposal that would have granted the Guatemalan government control over Belizean territory. Along with these women, Arcadia Carrillo was recognized for her work in education despite her difficult financial situation while she was growing up and for her volunteer work in groups that assist the elderly and others in need. Like Lucille Heusner, Christina Simone Palacio nee Flores likewise received distinction for her services in nursing and midwifery. Rita Lennan-De Four received recognition for her passion in helping others in need through the Cornerstone Foundation, especially those in hopeless situations.

Cordella Clementia Raymond, C.F.B.E., J.P., has dedicated the majority of her life to management and training in the culinary arts and hospitality sectors in the country as well as serving on the Board at the Mercy Clinic and vice president of the JP Association in Belmopan. Next to receive an award for her patriotism was Kathleen Alita Skeen nee Leslie who is known as a top-notch seamstress as well as an activist for persons with diverse abilities after losing her leg in an accident while on vacation in Mexico. Micaela Williamson also received recognition for her role in the first village council in 1957, for getting the council to officially name the area “Ladyville”, and for her continued ministry in homes and the hospital.

The other 11 to be recognized were men from all parts of the country and from different backgrounds. Ernest Tillett was recognized for his contribution to music in Belize and the Belizean-American band called the Fantasia Band. Cuthbert Bailey, one of the founding members of the first truck owner’s association in the Belize district, is known far and wide for his contributions to sports and assisting at-risk youth in a journey toward self sustenance. The advisory committee also selected Henry Smith to be awarded for his works in health and medicine as well as participation in the Pan American Health Organization/ World Health Organization. Like Ernest Tillett, Earlin Henderson was also active in the music scene and remains a celebrated musician. Eworth Garbutt, one of the youngest recognized, is recognized in the field of marine tourism and was awarded the Tour Guide of the year in 2008. Twins, Fabian and Sebastian Cayetano, were both recognized at the ceremony. Both brothers were recognized for their service to education in Belize.

Music continues to be an important part in Belize and John W. W. Young Sr. was recognized for efforts in music as well as his work with H. E. Sir Colville Young in ministering to children in Belize and for co-founding the John W. W. Young Jr. Medical Foundation. Pedro A. Salazar Jr. also received distinction at the ceremony and was acknowledged for his involvement in politics as well as in the township of San Pedro, a village at the time. He remains an integral part of the San Pedro community. Robert Usher, like Ernest Smith and Earlin Henderson, excelled in the music field and now has his own live national TV program which promotes Belizean artists. Last but not least, Robert Samuel Pate Sr. was recognized for his service to the Belize Defense Force as well as Deputy Mayoral and Mayoral work with the UDP in Orange Walk beginning in 1990.

The 22 commendable persons were chosen by the Office of the Prime Minister and the National Honors and Awards Advisory Committee- Philippa Griffith-Bailey, M.B.E., J.P.S., Chairperson, June Heusner, M.N.E., J.P.S., Sylvia S. Gillett, Walter Garbutt, J.P., Geraldine Tillett, Maureen Bevans Leslie, L.S.M., M.S.M., D.S.M., B.E.M. J.P., and Carlos Perdomo, Secretary and Cabinet Secretary. According to Perdomo, these select 22 have been recognized as a result of their dedicated social service to their communities and while they ranged many ages and while some still actively work while some are retired, there is one common factor: they have all been recognized by their community and other outreach groups for an outstanding achievement.