KINGSTON –– Hundreds of Jamaicans and well-wishers endured the sweltering heat yesterday as they gathered on the lawns of King’s House to cheer on family, friends, and colleagues receiving recognition for their outstanding contribution to various spheres of national life.
The list of 223 conferred with national honours and awards at the annual ceremony was headed by chairman and chief executive officer of Cari-Med Limited, Dr Glenford Christian, who was rewarded for his invaluable contribution to the pharmaceutical industry with the Order Of Jamaica (OJ), the nation’s fifth highest honour.
Also receiving the prestigious OJ were Ambassador Derick Heaven, for distinguished service to the public sector and leadership in the sugar industry; Dr Vincent Getchun HoSang, for philanthropic and dedicated service to the country and the Jamaican diaspora in New York; Professor Elsa Leo-Rhynie, for outstanding contribution to academia; and Rev. Dr Burchel Taylor for service in the field of religion.
The honorary awardees in that category were Denis O’Brien for contribution to the telecommunications industry; Rev. Father Louis Grenier for service to religion, education and voluntary service of over 60 years; and Professor Graham Sergeant for his work in sickle cell research locally and internationally.
The generally staid occasion had a few rousing moments, such as the standing ovation which Olympic quarter-miler and breast cancer survivor Novlene Williams-Mills received as she accepted the insignia for the Order Of Distinction in the rank of officer (OD) for her achievement in athletics.
Veteran journalist Fae Ellington, who was conferred with the Order Of Distinction in the rank of commander (CD), also drew enthusiastic applause, as did George “Ras Michael” Henry for outstanding contribution to Jamaican music.
This year’s Medal Of Honour for meritorious service went to 50 members of the uniformed service. These included 12 members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF); 16 officers of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF); ten members of the Jamaica Fire Brigade; and 12 officers from the Department of Correctional Services.
Two members of the fire service also received Medals Of Honour for gallantry, as well as Staff Sergeant Orion Archat from the JDF for the great courage, leadership and sacrifice that he demonstrated in organizing the rescue of residents trapped in lower Craig Hill in the Blue Mountain bush fires of May, 2015.
Forty men and women received the Badge Of Honour for meritorious and long and faithful service, some having served in the public sector for close to 50 years.
The ceremony was attended by ministers of government and members of the opposition, and other state officials, as well as members of the diplomatic corps, among others.