The fifth National Honours & Awards Ceremony was held on Saturday March 16, 2019 at the Montserrat Cultural Centre to honour six outstanding women.
MC’d by business woman Lorraine Lewis, the evening moved swiftly but soberly as the women were celebrated before their family and friends.
Presenting the medals were Miss Montserrat Vanice Tuitt, Leader of the Opposition Easton Taylor-Farrell and Premier Donaldson Romeo.
The Order of Merit Geraldine Mason for her work in community development. Mason thanked God for giving her the strength to do what she likes to do best, which is volunteering. She thanked parents and guardians who entrusted their children to her. She said she was sharing the award with the Girls Guides, Brownies and other groups that have allowed her to serve.
Mrs Claudette Weekes received the Order of Distinction for her more than forty years in education, government administration, and at the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank.
Weekes gave her deepest gratitude to God and also to the Cabinet for approving the recommendation for the award.
Clinical Sonographer Sonia Charles, who is now based in Dubai was awarded the Order of Distinction for her work in women’s health.
Charles shared heartfelt thanks for those who helped along the way and dedicated the award to her parents who have passed.
Charles started the Mammogram Fund on Montserrat after realising they were not available and the cost of travelling to Antigua for the day to obtain one was prohibitive for many women. The fund’s first event was a charity dinner and this allowed several women to be able to travel to the Belmont Clinic on Antigua for the tests. The government had also cut ferry and airline fares in half, which made it possible for more women to make the trip. “Many people have died because of lack of access to mammograms,” she added.
There is now an annual Pink Ribbon Walk to raise funds and awareness for the cause. More than 200 women have benefited from the programme.
As she closed her speech, Charles thanked the women who are continuing to lead the Pink Ribbon Charity, which includes Nurse Brenda Daley and Mrs. Hazel Riley. “The people of Montserrat are worthy to have breast cancer care. Give women access to free mammograms.”
Also receiving the Order of Distinction was Rev. Rosalind Morgan. The former teacher and registrar said everything she did was “because I loved what I did. Congratulations to other awardees.”
Morgan shared that she is not surprised that one of her former students Justice Esco Henry is being honoured along with her. She said even as a student, “you could notice certain attributes and she did not disappoint.”
Born one of six children, her brother Basil Morgan, a legendary cricket umpire, receive the Order of Excellence in 2015.
Ariane Rowe accepted the Order of Excellence on behalf of her mother cardiologist Dr. Icilma Fergus-Rowe. In 2011, Fergus-Rowe who is a senior physician at Mount Sinai Hospital, began bringing heart health care to the island as part of the visiting medical professionals programme. The visits have evolved and patients are able to receive the tests and results immediately. Dr. Fergus-Rowe is currently working on pamphlets to support heart health work on island. Her daughter shared that her mother’s dream is to one day set up a state of the art medical facility to serve the people of Montserrat.
High Court Judge Esco Henry was deeply moved by the Order of Excellence honour. The former attorney general for Montserrat is now based in St. Vincent & the Grenadines. She gave honour to her spiritual as well as natural family who she credited for continuing to support her.
Entertainment throughout the evening was provided by the Matrixx Dancers, Charliena White and Nish Brown.