January 9, 2009
Six honoured for the New Year

by Jamila Soso-Vincent 09.JAN.09

The New Year has started with a bang for six outstanding citizens. Recognised for their lifetime achievements and contributions to Vincentian society, they have been bestowed with prestigious honours from the Queen, on the recommendation of the Government.{{more}}

Each a pillar of their respective communities, the New Year’s Honours List includes: Reverend Arthur Hoskins Huggins, Alphius Nathaniel Jack, Dr. Timothy Providence, Muriel Dorothy Gunsam, Anesta Ileen Rodney and Cacheta Iselma Matthews-Williams.

Canon Huggins, a retired Anglican priest, was deeply humbled by his Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George (CMG) award, which he received for his contribution to Anglicanism, the Priesthood and Education. In July 2008, Huggins celebrated his 50th anniversary of ordination into the priesthood – a truly momentous occasion for him. “I don’t think there was ever a time in my life that I didn’t want to be involved in the ministry. It’s something I’ve always wanted!” he reminisced.

Ever the Good Samaritan, Huggins clearly has a love for helping others. “I hate to see people suffer!” he related. Whilst stationed in Georgetown decades ago, he promised his parishioners that he would get them a Secondary School. Sure enough, following much fund-raising in England and the USA, he founded the Bishop’s College Georgetown in 1964, now known as the Georgetown Secondary School. He even awarded 12 students scholarships to attend the school out of his own pocket.

Additionally, Huggins used to run evening classes for dropouts and those who couldn’t afford to go to school, both in St Vincent and Grenada when he was assigned there. Huggins maintains that more people “…should be involved in the community,” and helping the less fortunate. Although his path in life has not been obstacle free, Huggins has managed to maintain a positive attitude, which no doubt can be attributed to his faith in God and his determination to help others. His faith in God, surely, has also blessed him with longevity – today, January 9th, he celebrates his 81st birthday.

For his contributions to Business, Seventh Day Adventism and Community Services, Alphius Jack will receive the Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) award. Clearly a cool customer, he related that he felt “ok” about his honour. “I just felt the Cabinet and the Prime Minister saw fit to do it.”

The proprietor of Jax Enterprises, Jack started out as a tailor and banana farmer. In 1973, after much hard work, he opened Jax General Garments, where he mostly sold school uniforms. This move made him one of the pioneers in the garment industry in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Over the years, that store naturally progressed into the establishment he heads today.

At the age of 16, Jack became a Seventh Day Adventist, and since then he has fully immersed himself in the religion. In 1969, he became the first elder of the Richland Park SDA Church.

Jack acknowledged that the years have been good to him, albeit not without its challenges. He maintains a motto of doing everything to the best of his ability and working hard to succeed. Although many look at his wealth and mistakenly assume it was handed to him on a silver platter, he maintains it was all gained through effort. Similarly, Jack is dedicated to his country. When he got married in 1953, many of his friends tried to persuade him to migrate to the UK to seek his fortune. He declined, believing it better to contribute to his own local economy.

A man of few words, Dr. Timothy Providence admitted that he was quite shocked to be awarded his OBE for contribution to Medicine and Community Services. The retired Obstetrician/ Gynaecologist related that the field of Medicine has always had great appeal to him. “Since I was a youngster I knew that was what I wanted to do.”

Recently appointed as the Chairman of the National Commercial Bank, Dr. Providence acknowledged that working in a developing country such as SVG has definitely not been easy but it has been fulfilling. The father of five hopes to continue serving his country in any way that he can, and encourages the youth to “…be the best you can.”

Chief Executive Officer of Gunsam Investments Ltd, Muriel Gunsam works alongside her daughter and son-in-law. Founded by her husband in 1969, she got fully involved within the family business in 1980 – and she has worked tirelessly since then.

Recognised for her contribution to business and the Christian Community, Gunsam will receive a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) award. She considers it a real privilege to be on the Honours List as she values the influence of the British monarchy – despite some believing that the monarchy is outdated and has no relevance in modern society. “I’m still very British. The Queen is the head of the state and I accept that,” she said proudly.

Well into her golden years, Gunsam has no intention of giving up her work any time soon. “It gives me an opportunity to meet people!”

Retired Educator Anesta Rodney started out her career as a “no pay” teacher at the Chateaubelair Methodist School. Rodney has influenced many by teaching three generations of students, and upon retirement was the principal of the Troumaca Ontario Secondary School. For her contributions she will be awarded an MBE – something she is quite excited about. “I feel really great… I have accomplished something great!”

Rodney believes that education is of utmost importance because it provides opportunities to excel and helps people to interact with others from all walks of life. This is why she has dedicated her life to it. “Education is liberation… the freedom from mental impoverishment,” she remarked.

2008 has been a year of mixed emotions for Rodney. She was devastated by the murder of her past student Bertram Stapleton, elated at turning 70 on December 14th and ecstatic when Barack Obama won the U.S Presidency. “It shows that a black man can do it. He is an inspiration and I’m glad to have seen that in my lifetime.”

A generous woman by nature, Cacheta Matthews-Williams has worked extremely hard all her life to ensure that others can prosper. And for this she has been aptly rewarded with an MBE – an award she would love to receive in England.

Thrilled with her award, Williams believes that it is a sign of God’s blessing for her good deeds. She admitted that she gets a deep sense of satisfaction from helping those in need. “It’s not that I’m looking for anything in return. I just feel happy!” she gushed.

Alongside her husband, Williams has been heavily involved in farming and concrete block production. She also spoke of the ways in which she has given financial assistance to many students over the years. She lamented the fact that many young people today are content to languish in mediocrity, and urged them to strive for excellence. “God helps those who help themselves!”