Lester Bird hospital: A knighthood is not enough, says Hurst

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“Foolishness” is how Lionel “Max” Hurst, chief of staff in the Office of the Prime Minister dismissed the objections of opposition parties to the renaming of the Mount St. John Medical Centre (MSJMC) after Sir Lester Bird.
Sir Lester, a living national hero and former prime minister, was thought by Gisele Isaac, chairwoman of  the main opposition party, the United Progressive Party, (UPP) to be unworthy of the recognition when OBSERVER media spoke to her last week Friday.
The same day, Anthony Stuart, an executive member of the Democratic National Alliance (DNA), said that there was no need for the change and warned the Gaston Browne administration not to “politicise everything.” Stuart also suggested that numerous medical professionals would be worthier of the hospital becoming their namesake.
However, over the weekend, Hurst said it was the opposition parties and their criticisms that were “unworthy” while accusing them of “opposing for the sake of opposing.”
He said the Cabinet in its Thursday meeting made the decision to rename MSJMC after Sir Lester in an attempt to create “monuments that would tell the story of our past.” He added that the main hospital was “a fitting tribute” having been “conceptualised” by Sir Lester when he was prime minister.
The UPP’s Chairwoman, however, reminded that MSJMC was left unfinished by the Lester Bird administration when it left office in 2004, and argued that Baldwin Spencer of the UPP, the next prime minister, deserved credit for the hospital’s completion.
Hurst, in response to Stuart’s suggestion of renaming MSJMC after a noted medical doctor, said: “That is foolishness. It was the same thing they said when we named the Novelle Richards School after Sir Novelle Richards – that we ought to have found some teacher. We say no.
“We are attempting to make sure that those men and women who sacrificed a great deal in order to lead the revolution out of poverty and into the first-class society that we’re building today are remembered.”
Hurst also attacked Stuart’s assertion that being a Knight of the Most Exalted Order of National Hero (KNH), an honour conferred on Sir Lester in November 2014, was enough recognition for the former prime minister.
“No one remembers,” Hurst said. “It’s so very private except for the morning on November 1, when you get a handshake from the governor general. That’s why we have a great monument to Sir Vere Cornwall Bird at the public market.”
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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