CaribDirect writer Robertson Henry

Robertson S. Henry. Sports and Cultural Contributor

Parliamentarians, government officials, civil servants, members of the diplomatic corps, supporters and well-wishers came out in their numbers to a cocktail reception in honour of five former parliamentarians: Sir Vincent Beache, Honourable Girlyn Miguel, Honourable Clayton Burgin, Honourable Maxwell Charles, and Honourable Hendrick Alexander.

The cocktail was held at the official residence of the Prime Minister, Dr. Honourable Ralph Gonsalves at Old Montrose, and in delivering welcoming remarks, Minister of Transport and Works, Senator Honourable Julian Francis, referred to the five honorees as stalwarts “who have served this country very well”.

Also, in his capacity as General Secretary of the Unity Labour Party (ULP), he stated that the honourees have played very important roles at the Government level and for the ULP.

Delivering a feature address mixed with anecdotes and his impressions of each honoree, Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Ralph Gonsalves, described the honourees as very special persons to be commemorated for their immense contribution to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“It is very difficult to overstate the immense contribution of Sir Vincent Beache,” stated Prime Minister Gonsalves.

According to him, Sir Vincent Beache has been among the longest serving parliamentarians in the history of this country, of which he has held several important positions of state.  Prime Minister Gonsalves noted that Beache has an extraordinary mind for detail.

The next honouree was the first woman to serve as Deputy Prime Minister in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.  It is no wonder that Prime Minister Gonsalves described former Minister Miguel as a very special woman.  Of Miguel, Dr. Gonsalves said she performed chaplain duties in Cabinet from the very beginning and that she would always smooth things over.

In relation to her work, Dr. Gonsalves added that Miguel did great work in the Ministry of Agriculture, and phenomenal work in the Ministry of Education.

Prime Minister Gonsalves described former Minister of Health, Wellness and the Environment, Hon. Clayton Burgin as having an unassuming manner.  Dr. Gonsalves pointed out that Burgin won the East St. George seat from 2001 until his retirement in 2015.

Hon. Maxwell Charles receives award from PM Gonsalves

Hon. Maxwell Charles receives award from PM Gonsalves

He attributed Burgin’s success to his knowledge of every single one of his constituents.  According to Prime Minister Gonsalves, Burgin had his roots in teaching, sports and as an active member of GEMS and other civil societies.

Prime Minister Gonsalves stated that former Minister of National Reconciliation, Hon. Maxwell Charles, served very well as a Teacher then as a Principal of the Buccament Secondary School.  Dr. Gonsalves acknowledged that at first, Charles did not quite understand how the Government system worked but he had caught on very quickly, and represented the people of Central Leeward well.

The former Speaker of the House of Assembly, Hon. Hendrick Alexander, is the longest serving Speaker of the House in the history of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, said Prime Minister Gonsalves.

According to Dr. Gonsalves, Alexander knew the rules of the House and had been involved in the House, previously, as a Senator.

Also, having served as the General Secretary of the Labour Party, Dr. Gonsalves disclosed that Alexander understood politics.  He has made an immense contribution to parliamentary democracy in this country, remarked Dr. Gonsalves.

In reacting to the honour bestowed on him, Sir Vincent Beache, said he was overwhelmed.  He expressed gratitude to Prime Minister Dr. Hon. Ralph Gonsalves, members of Cabinet, Permanent Secretary, Godfrey Pompey, and civil servants for all their kind sentiments.

“I believe once you are in politics, you never get out”, Sir Vincent Beache declared.  Beache added there are people who would still come to his home with several requests for his assistance.

According to Beache, his one desire is to see the completion of the Argyle International Airport and to land on it or to take off from it.

Former Minister of Education, Hon. Girlyn Miguel, described the ceremony, spearheaded by the Prime Minister, as a noble deed.  “Thank you from the depths of my heart,” said Miguel to Prime Minister Gonsalves.  Also, she extended gratitude to all civil servants who organised the ceremony.

“We have come a long way and we have come this far by faith”, remarked Miguel.  She added that it was not in her bones to become a Politician and that prayer to God guided her decision to enter politics.  Having entered the political arena with all her shortcomings, Miguel said the people of Marriaqua continued to support her over the years.

The former Principal and Minister of Education appealed to the Ministry of Education to continue efforts to make all schools child friendly.  She applauded the Ministry of Education for the good work thus far.

Having served in a number of Government ministries prior to his retirement, former Minister of Health, Wellness and the Environment, Hon. Clayton Burgin, expressed gratitude to all those who have played a part in his introduction to politics, and the fifteen years he spent in Government.

He urged the youths in the Cabinet to avail themselves of the wisdom of the Prime Minister Gonsalves, Sir Vincent Beache, and Sir Louis Straker, among others, who have a working knowledge and idea of how things ought to be done in politics.

Former Minister of National Reconciliation, Hon. Maxwell Charles, said that he was grateful to the ULP for having the confidence to select him to be a candidate in the 2010 general elections.  Charles congratulated Prime Minister Gonsalves as a leader because he is someone who is strong and finds solutions in the nick of time.

Also, he thanked those who helped him to run his Ministry, especially, several Permanent Secretaries, whom he really enjoyed working with.  To the people of Central Leeward who supported him over his five years in office, Charles publicly acknowledged their support.

“It is a period of my life that I really enjoyed despite the challenges,” remarked the former Speaker of the House of Assembly, Honourable Hendrick Alexander.  Having served as Speaker from 2001 to 2015, Alexander expressed gratitude to his Parliamentary colleagues for their confidence in him during his tenure as Speaker.

He further thanked all those who attended the ceremony, and Prime Minister Dr. Gonsalves who, over the years, continually proposed him to be Speaker of the House of Assembly.