It was an emotional farewell but also a celebration as Governor General Sir Elliott Belgrave officially ended his primary schools tour.
And it was only fitting that he finished it off where it all began for him – at the Boscobel Primary School, formerly Boscobel Boys School.
Sir Elliott, who demits office at the end of June, was greeted by eager children and teachers who were honoured to have him there as Governor General for the final time.
In an emotional farewell speech, Sir Elliott spoke of his deep love for Boscobel where he grew up, the school and its students. He said he would not have had it any other way than to say farewell at his alma mater.
“It’s an honour to be here at my old school once again. Before I demit office, I wanted to visit this school to bid farewell to the principal, teachers and students. I hold this school very dear to my heart and I will always be grateful for the early nurture and guidance I received here,” he said.
His voice breaking numerous times during his speech, the Governor General said Boscobel was special to him.
“I love Boscobel and its people. I am one of them and will always be a part of them. I want them to know that they are the principle reason I am here today. I love the students as though they were my own children. This school does good work and has produced excellent students who went on to do well for themselves, their school and their country. I wish them well,” he added.
Sir Elliott reminded the students that they could achieve anything they wanted to as long as they worked hard for it, no matter where they came from.
“Principals and teachers will not succeed in their efforts if the students are not motivated and interested in what they are being taught. I was very interested and motivated in being educated at the schools and universities I attended. I attribute any success which I may have attained to being sensible, hardworking and ambitious,” he said.
“Always strive to give of your best. Boscobel, in my youth, was regarded as the district behind God’s back, of which no good would come. I wanted to take delight in [disproving] that fallacy. I have a strong feeling that I have achieved my objective, the one which I embarked on 81 years ago . . . to show that good can come from Boscobel,” Sir Elliott added.
He told the students he would come back to visit them at some point during his retirement.
“I will return . . . if it pleases the Almighty God to enable me to do so. I am looking forward to my retirement. I have a good feeling that I have played my part well and I desire now to provide the opportunity for someone else to emulate my example and, if possible, to improve upon it,” Sir Elliott said.
Apart from the usual poems and songs performed for the Governor General who turned 86 last Thursday, the students also got the opportunity to sing him Happy Birthday. They also presented him with a birthday cake and a gift, both of which he was very happy to receive.