Vernon Lambert, 93,
the recipient of the Medal of Service and the eldest of the latest batch of national awardees, at the National Cultural Centre last evening.
In recognition of the service they have provided to Guyana over their lifetimes, the latest national award recipients were honoured yesterday.
President David Granger told those gathered at the Investiture Ceremony, which was held at the National Cultural Centre, that the awards were a “public manifestation of appreciation.”
Granger explained that they were conferred to express esteem and to encourage others, including the young, to replicate the achievements of the recipients.
“Our nation has an obligation to pay homage to those sons and daughters who have provided outstanding service to their communities. Our nation honours them out of respect for the values they exemplify and contributions which they have made and continue to make,” Granger stressed, before adding that the investiture is not a ceremonial or cosmetic ritual but an essential cultural convention in a civilised society used to express appreciation to those who serve selflessly.
His sentiment was echoed by acting Chancellor Justice Yonnette Cummings-Edwards, who also holds the post of Chairperson of the Advisory Council of the Orders of Guyana. According to Justice Cummings-Edwards, “a national award is a special honour which the state bestows on those who have rendered outstanding service to this country. It’s a badge of honour, it’s a badge of distinction, and it carries with it the pride of a nation in appreciation for exceptional and dedicated service.”
The acting Chancellor noted that this year’s recipients represent an excellent admixture of persons from various vocations, disciplines and sections of life.
Doctors, nurses, engineers, scientists, business executives, social workers, teachers, community leaders, media operatives, and officers of the Fire Service as well as the Police Force and Defence Force are all represented among the 49 women and 48 men who comprise this year’s list of awardees.
The Cacique’s Crown of Honour was awarded to Justice Oslen Small, Professor Alvin Thompson and Chief Executive Officer of Demerara Distillers Limited Komal Samaroo. Samaroo was awarded for, among other things, his aggressive pursuit of Guyana’s penetration of foreign markets. Newly-appointed Commissioner of Police Leslie James was awarded the Disciplined Services Star, while Deputy Commissioner Paul Williams and Retired Divisional Fire Officer Patrick Carmichael both received the Disciplined Services Medal.
There were four recipients of the Military Service Medal and 46 recipients of the Medal of Service.
The eldest of the recipients was 93year-old Vernon Lambert, who in 1959 at the age of 33 suffered injuries while attempting to prevent a jailbreak at the Camp Street Prison. He told Sunday Stabroek that he was very happy to have been awarded for his service as a Prison Officer and very happy to have made it to 93 in reasonable health.
“I was congratulated by the president all for making it this far,” he remarked, while noting that the prisoners who escaped in 1959 “nearly kill me.”
“They kill the officer inside. He tek a sweet talk from them and he open them and the prisoners killed him and try to kill me but I bear me chaff, tek the cuff and the lash,” he related. Lambert, who was nominated by the Ex-Prison Officers’ Association for the Medal of Service, advised current Prison Service officers to think of their colleagues anytime they are tempted to smuggle contraband to prisoners.
“They mightn’t kill you with the contraband but they might kill another officer. That’s what happened in 59. The other officer he disobeyed the order to exercise one [prisoner] at a time and let them sweet talk he. He lost his life and I almost lost mine. I get a good buss head that tek 10 stitches,” he explained.
Also included in the Medal of Service recipients were journalists Wendy Hermonstine and Julie Lewis, and cartoonist Paul Harris.
Among the 41 recipients of the Golden Arrow of Achievement were Stabroek Business Editor Arnon Adams, veteran journalist Bert Wilkinson, communications specialist Rovin Deodat and STEM Guyana founder Karen Abrams.
Abrams told Stabroek News in an invited comment that she was honoured to be part of the list of talented awardees. She expressed gratitude to those who nominated her for the award and committed to contributing more to the development of the country. “I encourage other people to step forward and help as much as they can,” she said.
Recipient the Medal of Service Henry Clenkian (second, from left). Clenkian was part of a group led by the late Adrian Thompson which planted the national flag on the summit of Mount Ayanganna on May 26, 1966. He told Stabroek News that though he knew he was part of history he never in his wildest dreams imagined receiving a National Award. “It was an experience of a lifetime,” he said of the climb.
Recently-appointed Commissioner of Police Leslie James was last evening awarded the Disciplined Services Star.
Stabroek Business Editor Arnon Adams receives the Golden Arrow of Achievement from President David Granger.