One Knight on 36th Independence anniversary

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One person received the country’s second highest honour and nine others were recognised for their outstanding contribution to Antigua and Barbuda yesterday during the official Ceremonial Parade marking the nation’s 36th anniversary of political independence.
John Eugene St. Luce, former minister of government in previous Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) administrations, was appointed Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of the Nation (KGCN) for distinguished and outstanding constribution in the field of politics and national development.
Between 1971 and 1976, Sir John served as an appointed member of the Senate in Antigua.
He was elected to the House of Representatives in in 1976 where he served until his retirement from active politics in 2004.
Speaking to OBSERVER media yesterday, Sir John said, it is a joy to be recognised.
“It is quite exciting. I have been in politics since my late 20s. I joined the labour party in 1968. I was the first secretary of the Party. Lester Bird and I became the first Senators under the constitution then.”
During his tenure as an elected official Sir John served as a Minister of Agriculture; Home Affairs; Health; Public Works; Public Utilites and Communications and Minister of Finance.
Sir John, who is the current chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda Social Security Board, said the country has developed much over the years.
“I think we have done a tremendous amount of work in education and the economy. A lot of people do not understand the economy. The economy is not just cruise ships coming in. It’s that you and I can combine, can build a house or set up a business,” Sir John said.
Sir John was the first individual to be knighted three years after the government insituted a moratorium on the honour in order to maintain the prestige of the award system.
Elton Martin, former commissioner of police was granted Commander of the Most Illustrious Order of Merit, CM, for over 40 years of service to the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda.
Four recipients were named Officer of the Most Illustrious Order of Merit OM:
Barbara Charles was one of those and she was awarded for distinguished contribution to technical and vocational education and training. She spent over 33 years serving the nation’s special needs population in the capacity of School Principal of the Adele School for Special Children;
Dr Radcliffe Robins was awarded for distinguished contribution in the field of veterinary medicine, and encouraging scientific development in the nation, particularly in the field of veterinary medicine;
Dulcie Wynter-King was honoured for distinguished contribution to education and community development. She began her teaching career in June 1959. She said that she felt “wonderful” about receiving the accolade.
Ada May Johnson was awarded for distinguished contribution to technical and vocational education.
Johnson, 96, who began her teaching career when she was 16 years old, said, “I feel very happy about my award. My message to the people is to serve your country with dignity, serve with distinction.”
Three people received the Officer of the the Most Precious Order of Princely Heritage (OH) award. They were Roy Gilbert Laudat for distinguished contribution to Cultural Development; . Charles Jarvis for distinguished contribution in the field of sports and development; and, police Sergeant Veldon Ragguette for distinguished contribution to law enforcement, humanitarian and social development.
Laudat is credited with being one of the foremost promoters of folk dance in Antigua and Barbuda. In expressing pleasure at being nationally recognised Laudat said, “I am very elated having received an award today. I have been doing things for a very long time but not for any public recognition.”
Valarie Gonsalves Barriero, was named a Member of the Most Illustrious Order of Merit (MM) for her distinguished contribution in the field of Community Development.
Gonsalves-Barriero is described as a trailblazer in voluntarism. She has been a member of the Lions’ Club since 1996 and has served in various capacities; works closely with Breast Friends; and plays a pivotal role in the success of the St. John’s Anglican Cathedral serving as Vestry since 2010.
“I will continue to do the work because people need somebody to stand in the gap for them and I am able to do that and I will continue to in the name of the Lord,” Gonsalves-Barriero said.
Lorraine Perry, chairperson of the national honours committee explained that the list of awardees was chosen from nominations which were made in 2015, 2016 and 2017.
The ten awardees were chosen from a pool of 70.
With regards to the moratorium, the chairperson said the committee, in consultation with the Grand Master-Governor General Sir Rodney Williams, made the decision to lift the moratorium this year.
However, there is no guarantee that a knightood will be granted in 2018.
“We have quiet a signifcant amount of Knights and Dames within Antigua and Barbuda for such a small population. So it is not that we will be granting Knighthoods every year,” Perry said.

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