Charles: Greatness not beyond our reach

PROUDLY TOBAGONIAN: Tobago Day awardees with Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles, his wife, Catherine, and Chief Administrator Bernadette Solomon-Karoma at the awards ceremony on Wednesday in Scarborough.  - DAVID REID
PROUDLY TOBAGONIAN: Tobago Day awardees with Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles, his wife, Catherine, and Chief Administrator Bernadette Solomon-Karoma at the awards ceremony on Wednesday in Scarborough. - DAVID REID


Keeping a promise to not let his bravery go unrewarded, Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles on Wednesday posthumously gave an award for gallantry to Chrislon Walters at the annual Tobago Day awards at the main hall of the Division of Community Development, Enterprise Development and Labour in Glen Road, Scarborough.

The Argyle teen died on November 17 while attempting to save his 15-year-old friend, Kharisha Thompson, from drowning at Argyle waterfall. The duo and friends were celebrating a birthday when heavy rainfall caused the water to come raging. Walters and Thompson drowned while others were rescued from difficulty.

A sombre Christon Walters collected the award on his brother's behalf.

At his funeral service on November 26, Charles lauded the impact of the teen in his young life.

He said. "The information that I have gathered suggest he was a well-loved young man, that he was quite an individual, one with very sterling qualities and I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to him today and particularly, I want to commend him for his act of bravery. And I shall say to you that act will not go unrewarded."

Charles on Wednesday commended all the awardees, highlighting the achievements of footballer Kennya “Yaya” Cordner who was presented with the golden boot last week as the top scorer for her football club, Norwegian club, IL Sandviken.

He also gave commendations to the Tobago students who did excellent at CAPE and CSEC, singling out former Bishop’s High School student Sharese Taylor, who received an open scholarship at the CAPE exams, having placed first in Spanish and French regionally. Charles also made mention of the silver award received by the Tobago Tourism Agency for best national tourism board campaign as well as third place for best destination marketing at the World Travel Market tourism awards.

Christon Walters, right, collects an award for gallantry on his deceased brother's (Chrislon) behalf from Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles at Tobago Day Awards on Wednesday. PHOTOS BY DAVID REID - DAVID REID

“It seems, as many times, so many of us forget just how much we are capable of achieving as Tobagonians.

“It is a fact that this is a small island but let it not be said that it is inhabited by a people with a small vision. Some of us have bought into the limited perceptions and estimations which have been placed on us. Therefore, on this Tobago Day I make it my duty as chief secretary to remind us all that greatness is not beyond our reach,” he said as he implored all to change and challenge the narratives about Tobago and Tobagonians.

“I believe that we cannot elevate to new levels and conquer new stages by pigeon-holing our abilities. This will remain a grand dream, without a change in our present attitude and an adjustment in mindset. Tobago... the time is now, the time is here for us to mount the skies and to boldly soar.”

Also honoured on the evening was Sapphire Jackson, 18, who won the chief secretary’s award for outstanding contribution and significant achievement in sport.

The Plymouth-born Special Olympic athlete had a successful outing in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates earlier in March, bagging two medals at the Special Olympics 2019 World Games.

Jackson won gold in the softball throw– an adaptation of shot put – throwing 7.83m, and doubled her medals at the games by grabbing silver in the 100m walk event in a time of 19.27 seconds.

In addressing the awardees, Chief Administrator Bernadette Solomon-Karoma said it gave her great pleasure to participate in the honouring of deserving citizens, noting that no other event encapsulates the excellence and exemplary behaviour of Tobagonians like the Tobago Day awards.

Keishaun Julien provided steelpan entertainment at Tobago Day awards on Wednesday. - DAVID REID

“Often the contributions of our unsung heroes; our artistes and artisans, sport personalities, luminaries, entrepreneurs, scholars, public figures and private citizens are overlooked, but as we look amongst ourselves, we find achievements and accomplishments that are outstanding and inspiring. While we are thrilled when we received national and international recognition, it is also our aim to highlight our fellow Tobagonians, who through their selflessness and determined efforts strengthen the fabric of the island, in one way or another," she said.

The as­sem­bly cel­e­brat­ed its 39th an­niver­sary by host­ing a se­ries of events un­der the um­brel­la of To­ba­go Day. De­cem­ber 4 remains a spe­cial day for To­bag­o­ni­ans, as the is­land ob­served the re-es­tablish­ment of the cur­rent To­ba­go House of As­sem­bly. The As­sem­bly Day cel­e­bra­tion was first im­ple­ment­ed in 2010 by former chief sec­re­tary Orville Lon­don, who said the day should al­so be used to high­light the con­tri­bu­tion to the de­vel­op­ment of To­ba­go over the years.

This year's cel­e­bra­tion kicked off on De­cem­ber 1, with the inaugural Tobago Restau­rant Experience which ran for a week. Additionally, on Wednesday, there was a triathlon at the Buc­coo beach, fol­lowed by a thanks­giv­ing cer­e­mo­ny at the Scar­bor­ough Li­brary Fa­cil­i­ty and then the To­ba­go Day awards. The cel­e­bra­tions con­tin­ued on Thursday with a To­ba­go Day De­bate, as senior citizens and youths took on the difficult issues affecting Tobago in one mega debate at the Assembly Legislature.

Special Olympian Sapphire Jackson collects an award at Tobago Day awards 2019 on Wednesday in Scarborough. - DAVID REID

The annual event ended with a To­ba­go Day Ex­po and Sports and Fam­i­ly day on Friday at the Buc­coo In­te­grat­ed Fa­cil­i­ty.

Tobago Day awardees

Medal of Honour Gold for distinguished and outstanding service in the sphere of:

CULTURE – Duvone StewartSPORT – Akeem Stewart

Medal of Honour Silver for long and meritorious service in the sphere of:

CULTURE & THE ARTS – Tobago Drama GuildCOMMUNITY SERVICE – Scarborough Upper Lions ClubEDUCATION – Maria Caesar-GeorgeSPORT – Joan Bedlow-Soverall

Medal of Honour bronze for:

GALLANTRY (Posthumously) – Chrislon Walters

Chief Secretary’s award for outstanding contribution and significant achievement in the sphere of:

COMMUNITY SERVICE – Charlotteville Police Youth Club

SPORT – Sapphire Jackson


"Charles: Greatness not beyond our reach"

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