Local Fashion steals Officers’ Ball days before National Day
Make it Happen Foundation's Annual Officers' Ball came to life at the Sandals Grande Beach Resort & Spa on Saturday December 1. Every year the fundraising gala brings together police and fire officers on the island for a night of entertainment to raise money for projects which build upon the strength, resources and morale of their various departments. Held in the ambiance of the Bill Clinton Ballroom, the fundraising event saw the attendance of many of the island's top ranking officials.
The event usually pays homage to local clothing designers by encouraging guests to use national colours, fabrics and designs. Showing support for the local fashion industry, the event once again unfolded with a Saint Lucian fashion theme, with guests invited to show off local fashion ranging from creole wear to creations by local designers. Belle of the Ball, Mrs. Raquel Duboulay-Chastanet made an unforgettable debut in a gown made by renowned local designer Queen Esther. Halfway through the evening, the original green number was swapped for a riveting black one, also designed by Queen Esther. Former Inspector Gerald Cyril, last year's Lifetime Achievement Award winner and a two-time best dressed winner, won the award again this year. Ashley George, wearing a creation by Cherry Ann Gaillard, won the Best Dressed award for the ladies. Trendy duo Agnes Monplaisir-Pellerin and Christian Pellerin won the Best Dressed Couple award.
Organiser of the event and chairperson of the Make It Happen Foundation, Mrs. Raquel Duboulay-Chastanet, wife of Prime Minister Hon. Allen Chastanet, noted that Saint Lucian police and firefighters put their lives on the line daily, asking for very little in return. She viewed the ball as a way of celebrating officers and giving back.
“This year we take the opportunity to remind you about the many sacrifices our fire and police officers make, and the challenges they face daily in the most difficult of circumstances,” Make it Happen's chairperson said to a sold-out ballroom. “We hope this evening inspires many more of you to work with us to try to improve their working conditions and to ensure they're treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.”
Raquel Duboulay-Chastanet pointed out that the foundation was not trying to step into the shoes of government but, instead, “play our part as private citizens to assist where we can”. She voiced that it was unreasonable to expect officers to perform their roles effectively without the proper environment, tools and resources to do so—something Mrs. Duboulay-Chastanet has always emphasized.
As part of the event, a new destination video for Saint Lucia was released and, later in the evening, a short feature demonstrating the work of the Make it Happen Foundation, detailing how funds are injected into various projects benefitting the island's essential services. The Foundation's chair thanked all officers who were present and those who were working the beat. She iterated the need for more positive stories relating to the police to receive public attention as, for most officers, recognition and gratitude are hard to come by.
Last year's ball raised $125,000, with the previous year bringing in roughly $115,000. The proceeds went toward the refurbishment of several police and fire stations around the island, the implementation of new lounges and kitchens within the facilities, and the addition of new furniture and features including water tanks. Thus far, beneficiaries include the Gros Islet Fire Station, Gros Islet Police Station, Marchand Police Station, Choiseul Police Station, plus Laborie and Dennery Police Stations, with many more expected to receive assistance in the coming year.
In 2018, organisers of the Make it Happen Foundation increased outreach to include local schools, working with facilitators at Odsun Primary School and Fond Assau Combined School to create and refurbish the schools' libraries. From all accounts, the improvements were well received by teachers and students. Marian Home, Cornerstone House and Victoria Hospital were also beneficiaries of fundraising efforts.
At Saturday's gala event, Lifetime Achievement awards were presented to former police and fire officers who demonstrated the power of the human spirit and built their careers on the backs of their own dedication and drive. The first went to a man described as “a legend of the fire service”, Mr. Joseph Mathurin. Presenters noted that still today, many spoke admirably of Mr. Mathurin, who was credited with having been a staunch custodian of discipline and integrity.
The second Lifetime Achievement award went to Rudolph 'Toto' Charles, a man of humble beginnings and a musician at heart. Charles played a significant role in the formation of what is today known as the Royal Saint Lucia Police Band.
The third award of the evening went to George Rock, a man with a high level of motivation and innovation, and a reputable detective who solved cases that went down in history. All received commemorative awards and other prizes.
A rapid-fire auction offered trips, cruises, jewellery, hotel stays and more. Guests competed fiercely for the best prices. Proceeds of the auction will go toward the Foundation's 2019 budget.
Set to continue making things happen in a big way for Saint Lucians, organisers are grateful for the event's success and contributions from sponsors and corporate partners. Plans are already underway to make an even bigger impact in 2019.
STAR Publishing's fabulous managing director, Mae Wayne (left) and corporate manager Christian Wayne.
Like father, like son, with a touch of creole.
Belle of the Ball, Mrs. Raquel Duboulay-Chastanet.
Katherine Atkinson, one of the night's two MCs, wearing a creation by local designer Lisa Barton Volney of De Klozeline.
She definitely came to "slay" with this number!
A thorn among roses.