“If Tobago has the grow, then we must experience some growing pains.”
This was the advice of THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine as he addressed the Tobago Day Awards on Monday at the Shaw Park Complex, where 28 Tobagonians were honoured in various spheres.
The Tobago Day Awards are held during the annual Tobago Day celebrations in recognition of the outstanding achievements and contributions of Tobagonians to the development of the island.
Awards were presented in recognition of Tobagonians who have provided distinguished and outstanding service to the island in public service, culture, sport and education. The Tobago Medal of Honour (gold) is awarded for distinguished and outstanding service to Tobago and the silver is awarded for long and meritorious service to Tobago. The bronze medal is awarded for loyal and devoted service beneficial to Tobago in any field of human endeavour, gallantry or human action. The Chief Secretary’s Award is for outstanding contributions and significant achievements towards the development of Tobago.
Augustine said the awardees were “particularly pleasing.”
“I saw the awards committee making an effort to go at our community leaders, our village heroes.
“This small token is really reflective of a larger society that is filled with brave Tobagonians with heroes who have contributed to our development as an island.”
He said the island’s challenges must be owned.
“We have to find comfort in the discomforting fact that challenges are part of those.
“Sometimes, I feel as though we settle, but for us to really grow, we have to own the challenges, take command over them and get over them to really develop.
“Don’t see the challenges as necessarily a problem but see it as growing pains as part of the growth process for the island.”
Kyla Keith-Wilson was the awardee of the Chief Secretary award in Sport.
She said: “I’m still blown away, I am so humbled by the experience of just being considered, it’s just mind-blowing, it’s still hard to accept.”
Keith-Wilson coached the U18 national team for the recently culminated Commonwealth Youth Games 2023 and operates the only netball academy on the island, resulting in several Tobagonians being a part of the national team.
She continues to encourage a community spirit.
“Stick to it, be committed, give it your all. Young people need people to look up to, they need people to guide them so just come out, give of your time, it has no rewards in it but just that fulfilment of seeing young people grow and glow in the long run. So come out and just give back to young people.”
Coach Terry Williams got the bronze medal for sport. Williams has been a football coach for decades and is the head coach of Phoenix FC, which has produced outstanding players and continues to contribute to sport on the island.
“I am feeling very proud, and I want to say thank you to the people who nominated me – I’ve been working long and hard in the vineyard, and I am glad that somebody remembers and appreciates me.”
He shared some advice: “Keep on working hard at your game, and hopefully someday something would happen good for you.”
Pan Trinbago president Beverly Ramsey-Moore got the gold medal for culture.
Questioned on her feelings, she said: “Extremely grateful and at the same time humbled and very excited.”
Ramsey-Moore has played a pioneering role in the field of culture with an outstanding role in the steelpan fraternity. She is the first female president of Pan Trinbago.
She shared some advice.
“Never give up – never give up, you fight the good fight. As long as you know what you want in life, you go after it. With prayer and with a strong family support, I think women – we can achieve whatever we put our hands to.”
Former Administrator in the THA, Dr Elton Bobb, was awarded the silver medal for public service.
He said: “I felt humbled, I felt gratitude, and I want to thank the people on the committee who considered my work and considered my sacrifice for all these years – I feel humbled.”
Dr Bobb has guided and influenced policy direction in Tobago through the comprehensive Economic Development Plan and has led to the development of all THA Divisions.
His greatest challenge, he said, was the public service.
“Public service life is not easy. I started at age 19 as a police officer. I worked in various sections of the police service – dangerous sections. Then I did my degrees, and I started at the Ministry of Agriculture, and that was my greatest challenge because I worked from Matelot to Cedros – I worked on developing lands and certainly encouraging farmers to farm in this country. That is my greatest joy to see farmers become entrepreneurs.”
Long-standing educator Belinda Dillon-Duncan was awarded the silver medal for education.
She said, “It was my first time copping the award, and I enjoyed it immensely. I consider it a privilege to have been considered and recognised in the capacity of education. It is a field that I have been in for 38 years.”
She said she never one day regretted her journey.
“No, I never had that thought. I was filled with enthusiasm and a passion to ensure that students learnt a lot, that they participated in their learning, and that they felt valued and empowered. I certainly enjoyed my experiences.”
Other awardees included Allan Richards, Cecil Caruth, Robert Nelson, Deborah Moore-Miggins, Bertille St Clair, Esther Moore-Roberts, Agnes Murray, Angela Sosa, Joan Sebro, Gerard Franklyn, Bill Browne, Pulwaty Beepath, Irene Beache, Greta Trim, Edwina King-Ince, Ann Benoit, and Patricia McKain-Williams amongst others.