Trailblazers: Winners of inaugural Butch Stewart Community Awards selected

COMMUNITY HEROES

NINE Jamaicans yesterday emerged winners from a strong list of 35 finalists to be named recipients of the inaugural Butch Stewart Community Awards.

The ceremony, held at the Sandals Grande Riviera Beach and Villa Golf Resort in Ocho Rios, St Ann, sought to merit finalists’ contribution to nation-building in the areas of education, health services, protective services, arts and cultural preservation, volunteerism, community growth and development, entrepreneurship, young achievers and social work.

The winners in the respective categories are Grace Lawrence from Teak Way, Kingston; Neville Ballin from Grosvenor Heights, Kingston; Nickoyan Brown from Barbican Road, Kingston; Joan Shields from Falmouth, Trelawny; Carmen Wilson from Bamboo, St Ann; Norma Fenton from Galloway District, Westmoreland; Alfred Bryan from Spanish Town, St Catherine; Tishauna Mullings from Seaforth, St Thomas; and Carla Bingham Ledgister from Clarks Town, Trelawny.

Chief Executive Officer of Sandals Resorts International and ATL Group Adam Stewart, in addressing the finalists, said the decision for the awards came from a desire to put together a programme where the community votes for the community. “Let's see how many amazing candidates Jamaica has. It’s our Jamaica to fix and we want to stay on the positive side. Let’s open our eyes, go into the community and see wonders,” he said.

Minister of Local Government and Community Development Noel Arscott said the awardees’ selfless service to their communities is the formula needed to experience sustainable economic growth.

“Your contribution is much appreciated and we want our country to experience major growth and development,” Arscott said, adding, “We’re all stakeholders and we must work together to build better communities and a country.”

Member of Parliament for North East St Ann Shahine Robinson said community activism is important even as she commended the initiative for harnessing a culture of responsible persons.

“We need to be keen on celebrating success and standing in authority with those who are blazing a trail,” she said.

Chairman of Sandals Resorts International and ATL Group Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, for whom the awards is named, said the recognition of the community heroes was long overdue.

“The people being recognised here today should have been recognised years ago,” he said.

According to Stewart, charitable actions are an act of love and not force. He noted that because of the nature and spirit of Jamaicans “we have managed to emerge from economic hardships”.

Winner of the award for community growth and development Norma Fenton said her involvement in service has spanned 20 years and to give back leaves her feeling fulfilled.

“I love taking care of people and it gives me more energy and love when I see people reaching far from the training they go through,” she said.

Nickoyan Brown, who emerged winner in the protective services category, said giving back to his community is innate.

“It is something I feel in my spirit and when I’m giving back I feel like I’m alive. The feeling of knowing somebody benefits from and appreciates the little I give is what keeps me going,” Brown said.

Another of the nine winners, Alfred Bryan who was awarded for his service in entrepreneurship, said creativity and ingenuity have always been a part of who he is. Having training in masonry and carpentry, he said, he is at peace with whatever job he does.

“It’s stressful, but it’s rewarding and I’m glad I didn’t give up on helping persons with my craft,” he said.

Tishauna Mullings, who copped the award for young achievers, said she was honoured to celebrate the principles that have made ‘Butch’ Stewart inordinately successful.

She said the Butch Stewart Community Awards should be emulated by all members of the private sector in order to experience growth as the good can outdo the bad.

“There’s nothing wrong with Jamaica that can’t be corrected by what’s right with Jamaica,” Mullings said.

The finalists received a complementary weekend for two at Sandals Resorts in Jamaica, while the winners received a five-night and sixday stay at Sandals Beaches Resort. Additionally, they all received certificates of commendation and engraved plaques.

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