The island of St. Lucia was given its name in the 17th century by French colonisers who named the landmass after the martyr St Lucy who was assassinated by the Romans. A long time from then and the country has gone on to become a tropical gem, famous for its alluring, sandy beaches, regal resorts, inviting weather, its serenity and friendly people.
On Saturday 28th June 2014, St Lucia’s Prime Minister, Dr. Kenny D. Anthony was the Guest of Honour at the Saint Lucia Gala Dinner and Awards Night that was held in London. The event was hosted under the auspices of Dr Ernest Hilaire, High Commissioner for Saint Lucia to the United Kingdom. The black tie event was also attended by many members of the Saint Lucians in the UK, with a guest list comprising diplomats, British Government officials, investors, tourism representatives and many more.
The event began at 6pm and ran until 1am. It was held at the Chelsea Harbour Hotel, commencing with a drinks reception followed by a sumptuous four course dinner. Entertainment included performances by Ronald ‘Boo’ Hinkson and Barbara Cadet, both well-known Saint Lucian musicians. There was also a silent auction and a grand raffle prize draw.
The event was intended to have manifold outcomes. Among them were to bring together, under one roof, a number of business people, with potential to invest in Saint Lucia; to recognise the efforts of persons within the diaspora who had made sterling contributions within their field of endeavour, and, to stoke the fires of kinship within the diaspora.
The St Lucian Prime Minister, Dr. Kenny D. Anthony, was guest of Honour, and delivered a moving and powerful speech. He spoke of the St Lucian people and their uniqueness, even as they shared commonalities with other Caribbean people. Their patriotism, resourcefulness, hospitability and hunger for knowledge were highlighted. In that vein he spoke of the island having the distinction of the most Nobel Laureates per capita in the world, in the persons of the late Sir Arthur Lewis (Economics) and Hon. Derek Walcott (Literature). He went on to highlight that Saint Lucia continues to capture the coveted title of Caribbean Number One Honeymoon Destination.
The Prime Minister then outlined the central theme of his address. He announced that his government was in the process of establishing a network of business ambassadors, which will be modelled on the UK’s Department of Trade and Investment Business Ambassadors Group. Another strategy announced was the appointment of strategically selected Honorary Consuls and distinguished Saint Lucians at home and abroad to work with the missions and embassies.
While making it clear that Saint Lucia had not been spared the ravages of the global economic crisis he said that the island, nonetheless, offered numerous investment opportunities. Some areas mentioned were, tourism, property development, creative industries, national infrastructure, renewable energy and medical research and education.
Following the Prime Minister’s address were the awards. Justin Moore, a magistrate, was recognised for community service; Nigel Ryan for contribution to the creative arts; Fiona Compton of Paradise Prints captured the business award; Marland Yarde, an England rugby player received the sports award. It must be revealed that Marland Yarde was born in Bagatelle, Castries and is now a member of England’s first XV team sheet. A special award for service to Saint Lucia was presented to Bernard Cornibert of Winfresh.
Among the VIP’s who graced the occasion were, Darren Sammy, West Indies cricketing captain, who donated two of his West Indies shirts for auction, Ryan Taylor, an up and coming boxer and Luigi St. Omer, who donated a painting for auction.
The gala event aimed to raise funds for Comfort Bay Senior Citizens Home in Vieux Fort, and also intended to bring St. Lucians together to celebrate the 35th year anniversary of the country’s independence.
By all appearances the desired outcomes were achieved and an enjoyable time was had by all.