Ingraham tribute to Helen Smith

EDITOR, The Tribune.

I was saddened to learn of the passing of Mrs. Helen Smith who served as my personal assistant and then, senior personal assistant throughout my first two terms in office as prime minister.

I met Helen at the Cabinet Office years before my appointment as prime minister. Her name was almost synonymous with Cabinet Office given her long years of service there during which she had earned a reputation as efficient, trustworthy and dedicated.

I knew her first as Sir Lynden Pindling’s gatekeeper though that had not been her initial appointment.

Helen first worked in the Commissioner’s Office in Eleuthera. On moving to Nassau, she was engaged as a Clerk in the Audit Department. Later, in 1967, she was transferred to the Cabinet Office. Reclassified as a secretary she worked under the tutelage of Mrs. June Maura. Mrs. Maura, prior to the 1967 change in government, had been the private secretary to then Premier Sir Roland Symonette. Her professionalism meant that Sir Lynden felt comfortable working with her until her retirement.

Helen was appointed as executive secretary and personal assistant to then Prime Minister Pindling in 1984. She was later transferred to the personal staff of the prime minister and was promoted to the post of Personal Assistant to the prime minister in 1988. That same year she was made a Member of the British Empire (MBE) for her efficient, dedicated and loyal service.

While Helen is most closely associated with Sir Lynden, her long years of service are testimony to her primary loyalty to the public service where she demonstrated that loyalty to her political boss did not trump her commitment to political impartiality and responsibility to serve the government of the day.

Helen continued to serve in the post of personal assistant to the prime minister throughout my first two terms as prime minister. In 1997 she was promoted to the post of Senior Personal Assistant, the position she held up to her retirement in February 2002. In her post retirement years she was re-engaged on contract and served in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture for a time.

I was pleased to recommend her for national honour and happy at her selection for the award of the Companion of the Order of Merit (C.M.) this year.

Throughout her years of service Helen demonstrated the highest degree of professionalism, loyalty and commitment to the government of The Bahamas. It is to her credit that officers who trained under her followed her lead and continue to serve in that most sensitive of government offices without regard to political affiliation. I think immediately of Mrs. Patrice Major who continues to offer the same level of service, dedication and professionalism that Helen Smith and June Maura before her, personified.

Helen has moved on to a most deserved eternal rest, free of the discomfort that poor health inflicted on her in recent times. I offer my sincere condolences and that of my wife Delores, to Helen’s children, Julian and Byron Smith and Ronda Fortune, her grandchildren and to all her friends and former colleagues in the Bahamas Public Service. May she rest in peace.


Hubert A. Ingraham

Nassau, N.P. The Bahamas

27 November 2023.


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