By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
TWENTY-ONE people received national honours at Government House yesterday, with Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis saying they demonstrated courage, generosity, justice and fortitude throughout their lives.
Dr Minnis said: “They have demonstrated courage in the exercise of religious and pastoral ministry; the promotion of cultural and national development; the service of others through political, public, civic and community service, the chronicling of our history and the preservation of our national treasures, including artifacts and archives; the preservation and protection of our national built environment; and the pursuit of excellence in education, commerce and athletics.”
While people who helped during and after Hurricane Dorian were not honoured with awards yesterday, Dr Minnis spent much of his speech praising their deeds, noting that through various social media accounts his office will recognise and mention their examples as heroes.
Among those highlighted on the OPM’s Facebook page yesterday was Allaya Hagigal, a 20-year-old New Providence resident who used social media to help co-ordinate rescue missions for Grand Bahama residents trapped in their homes during Hurricane Dorian; and Brent Lowe, a visually impaired Bahamian father who weathered the storm to save the life of his 24-year-old disabled son.
“On Grand Bahama and Abaco, many citizens saved other people’s lives, by taking them into their homes, where some survived for days before flood waters receded,” Dr Minnis said. “Some Bahamians took to jet skis and small boats to rescue others. Others knocked on doors to evacuate neighbours, children, the elderly and the infirm. Such service and courage is a powerful demonstration of the best of the Bahamian spirit and the spirit of ‘One Bahamas’.”
It’s not clear if such people will be awarded national honours next year, having missed the cut-off for receiving this year’s awards. Critics have criticised the government for not awarding more ordinary Bahamians who have done outstanding work in their communities with national honour awards.
Dr Philip Rahming, the late Timothy Gibson and the late Dr Hervis Bain received the Order of the Bahamas award. Former Deputy Prime Minister Frank Watson and Tommy Turnquest were made companions of the Order of Distinction. Keith Mason Sr and Franklyn Rolle were made new officers of the Order of Distinction and Dr Gail Saunders, Missouri Sherman-Peter, Godfrey Kenneth Kelly, Edward Andrew “Dud” Maynard, Lynn Holowesko and Norward Rahming were made new members of the Order of Distinction. Rev Dr Charles Saunders, Bishop Carrington Samuel Pinder, the late Edmund Money and the late George Adams were made new companions of the Order of Merit while Bishop, Carl Rahming, Charles Sweeting and Oral Rex Major were made new members of the Order of Merit. The Order of Lignum Vitae was awarded to Shaunae Miller-Uibo.
This is the second year national honours have been issued.
Historian Dr Saunders said she feels more gratified receiving the national honour than she did receiving the Queen’s honour of the Order of the British Empire seven years ago. Advocates for the national honour awards have hoped that the awards would gain more prestige locally than the Queen’s award.
“I am very thrilled to receive a Bahamian honour and I feel proud that my country has seen fit to honour me and I know there are so many people who need to be honoured and I’m among the few so fortunate,” she said. “I thank the government for recognising me and my work with the archives, historical research and writing.”