Senators were united across the party divide in giving their support to a new series of national awards – the Pride of Barbados – to recognise previously unsung heroes who have worked to improve the lot of people within their communities.
In introducing the bill, the acting Leader of Government Business in the Senate Senator Kay McConney stated that the award, to be introduced as part of the We Gatherin’ 2020 initiative, empowers the Governor General to confer the award on the advice of the Prime Minister.
The awards are to given throughout the year-long We Gatherin’ 2020 initiative, and thereafter each April 28 – National Heroes Day.
Senator McConney announced: “There will be 20 awards per month, with ten people in Barbados and ten outside of Barbados in the Diaspora.
“Any citizen of Barbados or person entitled to be a registered citizen of Barbados, or permanent resident of Barbados, who has worked diligently to make an outstanding contribution to community life, and the improvement of social and economic conditions in a particular parish of Barbados will be eligible.”
She added that people living within the parish or who once resided within the given parishes will be able to nominate potential recipients who have contributed in terms of their humanitarian, social, religious or educational work.
Opposition Senator Caswell Franklyn praised the Government for establishing the award. He noted: “I have always complained that people in Barbados who really deserve honour don’t get it.
“We have community practitioners who go out and spend their own money to do everything, and the only thing they get is a big funeral because everyone loved them; they are not recognised while alive.”
Senator Franklyn, along with Senator Toni Moore, were of the view that such an award would inspire other Barbadians to go out and do more for their communities knowing that they would eventually get recognised for their work.
The Opposition lawmaker recommended further perks for the awardees in addition to a badge or medal, suggesting “they should get some other type of special privilege, not necessarily a monetary reward, but perhaps a diplomatic or official passport”.
Senator Moore said the recognition of these individuals would go a long way in rebuilding community spirit, something she said the country was presently lacking and was in urgent need of as the country rebuilds the economy.
She told fellow senators: “The trade union and credit union movements were built on communities coming together, and this unity is what we need now more than ever to get where we need to go as a country.
“This award has the potential to inspire others to follow in the footsteps of those being recognised.”