Affable centenarian cops Sam Sharpe Award
CENTENARIAN IRIS Denniston, who has devoted most of her life in the service of the Orange community, in St James, created history last Monday (Heroes Day) when she became the oldest recipient of the Sam Sharpe Award.
Denniston, affectionately called ‘Aunt Sis’ by family and friends, was one of seven recipients of this year’s awards, which were handed out during the annual National Heroes’ Day Civic and Awards Ceremony, held at Sam Sharpe Square in Montego Bay. It was held under the theme, ‘Our heritage, Our Legacy, Our Strength.’
“I feel very happy; I could not be more happy, and I thank God for the day, and for the ones who invited me to be here,” Denniston, who was flanked by well-wishers, told The Gleaner.
Born in 1916 in the community of Cornwall in St James, the affable Denniston moved to Orange when she was 20 years old and has made the community her home for the past 80 years.
In her early years, Denniston travelled to England, where she worked for several years as a ward assistant. She returned to Jamaica in 1951 just ahead of Hurricane Charlie, which ravished the island and left many persons in her community homeless.
In response to the crisis at the time, Denniston opened her home to several families in need of shelter. She later established a farm, where she and her husband raised cows, goats, pigs and chicken. During that time, she gave milk from her cows to the community free of cost.
Denniston also assisted parents in her area by providing a free day-care and learning centre for their children. She was extremely active in community affairs through the Sudbury Baptist Church, of which she was a member.
Speaking about her initial response when she learnt that she was selected for the Sam Sharpe Award, Denniston said her only concern was the level Iris Denniston receives the Sam Sharpe Award from Montego Bay Mayor Glendon Harris. of security she would experience in Montego Bay.
“When I first heard, I said. ‘Montego Bay? I must go to Montego Bay and I am so afraid of Montego Bay now?’ And then I said, ‘Never mind, a lot of police will be there, and I myself will be there’,” said Denniston. “So I came without fear, and I was very happy for it, and up to now, I enjoy every bit of it.”
The accolades to be received by Mrs. Denniston would not end with the Heroes’ Day recognition, as she and fellow St James centenarian, 104-year-old Levi Kentish of Maroon Town, were listed among several senior citizens as guests of honour at a special treat hosted in Montpelier by the St. James Parish Council on Thursday, October 20. ALTHOUGH THE University of Technology (UTech) has closed down its campus at the Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium, near Falmouth, the university plans to maintain a strong presence in western Jamaica through its Montego Bay-based campus.
Michelle Beckford, the communications manager for UTech, told The Gleaner that although the university had shut down the campus at the Trelawny stadium, the school’s offering of programmes to its students in western Jamaica has not been hindered.
“The Trelawny campus was just classrooms, and everything that existed before still exists in another location, as there is another campus in Montego Bay,” said Beckford, in reference to UTech’s Montego Bay campus, which is split between its locations at Kent Avenue and another location at Barnett Clinic, along Barnett Street.
NO DECLINE IN OFFERINGS
“So, there has been no decline in the programme or in the offerings (degrees); all the offerings that were there before are still there, it is just not at that location (the stadium) anymore,” added Beckford.
Beckford’s declaration of confidence in UTech’s capacity to stay relevant and influential in the west, somewhat contrast the position of councillor Garth Wilkinson, the mayor of Falmouth. At a recent Gleaner editor’s forum in Falmouth, the mayor stated that the shutting down of the Trelawny campus was a lost opportunity to turn Falmouth into a university town.
“With all the development that is taking place (in Falmouth), UTech has now pulled out of the stadium and they are moving out of their other location on Trelawny Street, which is our biggest disappointment,” Wilkinson stated at the time. “This is a blow to our plans for Falmouth.”
In fact, in speaking to the kind of impact being a university town could have on Falmouth, the mayor said it had the potential to be much not bigger than the impact the Falmouth cruise ship pier is having on the popular seaside town.
“The Falmouth port would pale in comparison if we had a university town,” said Wilkinson. “We are hoping the university would rethink its decision to leave the town of Falmouth.”
UTech made its initial sojourn into Falmouth in November 2012 with a lofty promise to invest more than J$250 million to develop its campus at the US$30-million Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium, which has basically been a white elephant since it was constructed to host the opening ceremony of the 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup.
Before that 2012 offer, UTech had made a previous offer in 2010 to invest J$250 million to develop a university campus on a property adjacent to the stadium, on condition that they would be allowed to use the stadium facilities. That offer was rejected by the Government.
Interestingly, at that time, Richard Bourke, who was then the president of the Trelawny Chamber of Commerce, supported UTech’s proposal, saying that it would bring significant spinoff benefits to the parish, including boosting commerce and housing construction.
When I first heard, I said, ‘Montego Bay? I must go to Montego Bay and I am so afraid of Montego Bay now?’ And then I said, ‘Never mind, a lot of police will be there, and I myself will be there.