Laughter and applause resonated throughout the Villages at Coverley, Christ Church recently, when outstanding individuals and organisations in the Barbadian Diaspora were rewarded for their contribution to the island.
At an Awards and Recognition Reception that brought the curtain down on the Barbados Network Consultation Second Diaspora Conference, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean, thanked everyone who contributed to the biennial event and showered praises on the awardees and attendees.
The inaugural awards were designed to acknowledge the contribution made by the Diaspora in building international awareness of Barbados.
Simply saying “We salute you, thank you very much” to Barbadians and Barbadian descendants from Brazil, Panama, Cuba, United States, United Kingdom, Canada and other countries, the minister noted that from all reports the BNC 2012 was a success.
The Pride of Barbados Award, given to individuals nominated by an association or organisation for outstanding work in the Diaspora, was presented to Julia Hollingsworth-Brown, Shirley Holder and Reverend Dr. Anthony Bailey.
Hollingsworth-Brown, the Public Relations Officer of the National Association of Barbados Organisations Inc., , said she didn’t expect the award and was shocked when she heard her name.
“I do everything from the grace of my heart so I don’t look for any awards or anything, but I am still very happy,” she said.
Having left the island for Boston at age 15, Hollingsworth-Brown is a prolific fund-raiser. The 33-year-old woman was the brains behind Ideal Meals – an initiative to provide nutritious meals to Haitians following the 2010 catastrophic earthquake. In 2011, she raised $1,500 to help with diabetes in Barbados and donated $500 to the Barbadian Cancer Association in New York for its Hospice Project.
The mother of two also works actively with NABO to reconnect Barbadians across the US. She lauded the BNC 2012 for “bringing people out of the woodwork”, adding she was pleased to meet Barbadian descendants from Cuba and Panama.
Shirley Holder was another proud recipient of the Pride of Barbados Award. The Barbadian woman migrated to the US in 1971, where she became a medical assistant. Having worked for 10 years at the Hospital of Joint Diseases, she is currently employed at the Beth Israel Medical Centre and has since gained certification in dialysis and HIV procedures.
Holder is an active member of the Barbados Nurses’ Association of America Inc., the Barbados-American Charitable Organisation of New Jersey, and the Barbados Cancer Association of USA.
While Bailey was not present to receive his award, resounding applause was given to the Barbadian who resides in Montreal, Canada, in recognition of his life-long passion of community service and volunteer work.
The Barbados Ball Canada Aid and Honorary Consul for Barbados in South Carolina, Rhoda Green, were the recipients of the Minister’s Excellence and Achievement Award.
This honour was given to individuals or organisations whose contributions positively highlighted Barbados and benefited the Barbadian economy or society over a period.
Representative for the BBCA, Jessica Carrington said the award did not come as a surprise “because we have put in a tremendous amount of work”.
“We have been labouring relentlessly over the last nine years … in our contributions to Barbados. We have given dialysis machines, televisions, chairs and not to mention [built] friendships… It is a labour of love, not only for me but for the entire planning committee, the executive and the advisory council.”
Carrington explained that in addition to providing scholarships to Barbadian youth attending colleges and universities in Canada, the BBCA annually hosts the Barbados Charity Ball in Canada and the organisation will be celebrating its 10th year in 2013.
Honorary Consul for Barbados in South Carolina, Rhoda Green, collected the Minister’s Excellence and Achievement Award for her outstanding work in highlighting Barbados’ contribution to the Carolinas and Charleston. Green was instrumental in the establishment of Charles Towne Landing — a US$19 million museum devoted to showcasing the Barbados Carolinas connection.
The Special Award was presented to third generation Barbadian from Panama, Sheila Wilkinson, for her efforts in helping the Barbadian community and Barbadian visitors to Panama.
“When Barbadians come to Panama, I make their hotel reservations and I don’t charge them anything. I pick people up at the airport, take them shopping, [and] I arrange tours for them.
I do this not only for Barbadians, but Jamaicans, Bahamians, … everybody tells people to call Sheila when they are visiting Panama,” she remarked.
Wilkinson outlined that this was her sixth trip to Barbados, and years ago she reconnected with her parents’ family on the island. Adding that 17 Barbadian descendants from Panama accompanied her to the BNC 2012, she said: “I didn’t go to the first Diaspora conference but this one was wonderful and informative. My interest has been awakened to do more and get our people together.”
However, she lamented: “In Panama [although] we are Latin American some people tend not to keep our [Barbadian] culture alive. We still cook cou-cou and [other] things like we would in Barbados. One problem is that most of the people are not making their children speak English.
“Our forefathers built the Canal, and if you [see] what those people went through to put us where we are today… We need to preserve our heritage, culture and keep families in contact with each other.”