Honourable Gaston Browne Prime Minister & Mrs. Browne
Distinguished Members of the Cabinet
Distinguished Members of the House of Representatives and the Senate
Family Members and Friends
Antiguans and Barbudans wherever you are:
On behalf of my wife Lady Williams and myself, I extend a warm welcome to all of you to Government House this afternoon for this most important Investiture Ceremony.
I particularly wish to acknowledge the presence of Sir Robin Yearwood who will be offi-cially invested this afternoon with the second highest national honour of Antigua and Barbuda, that of the Most Distinguished Order of the Nation.
The ceremony we are about to perform today will, among other distinguished acknowl-edgements, recognize what is now a historical fact in Antigua and Barbuda, the Caribbe-an Region, the Commonwealth and Internationally.
Our National Honours Committee, which is comprised for the most part of the people's representatives from both sides of the house, have spent time reviewing the life and con-tribution of Sir Robin Yearwood and they have unanimously agreed that their decision to recommend the conferral of knighthood on this son of the soul signifies the gratitude of a thankful nation, and recognition for the outstanding contribution to national development.
I have had the distinction of serving alongside the Honourable Robin Yearwood as a cab-inet colleague and know without a shadow of a doubt that this is a man who has a deep seated interest in his constituents and their wellbeing. He has always been careful to ex-plore all possible opportunities for their engagement and employment in any area of ser-vice he was in, whether it was agriculture, utilities or civil aviation. There are also many accounts of individuals who have quietly benefited from assistance from him to offset costs related to their health care and educational pursuits. These are just some of the reasons, many more of which are being shared this evening, that have endeared the people of St. Phillip's North to their parliamentary representative.
It is not easy to be actively involved in any human endeavour for forty years, in a situation where one has had to be elected. He has been able to satisfy different generations in his constituency for forty(40) unbroken years. If the statistics are correct, he is one of the longest, if not the longest serving Member of Parliament in any democracy in the world. The people of his constituency grabbed nine (9) opportunities to re-elect him. His years of service spanned grandparents, parents, children, grand children and possibly great grandchildren.
He is a big proponent of building things from the local level upwards. He believes that we should build our own and support our own and to pull ourselves up by our own boot straps. This is manifested in the way in which he has stuck with the APUA PCS mobile service to compete with LIME, now FLOW and Digicel. He believes in being self made and that we must build our own business and work to make it successful. At the back of all this, is his accounting skills which makes him a prudent manager of the people's business ensuring that he gets the maximum value from every dollar that he spends.
Sir Robin looms large in courage and character. He is well known for his frankness and fearlessness when it comes to saying what his views are on any matter which he consid-ers would have an impact on his community or our beloved homeland of Antigua and Barbuda.
I only ask Sir Robin that you share your secrets for success, of course at the right time with those who you will seek to follow in your footsteps. Congratulations on your achievement. From all appearances, you are still going strong and will remain strong for many more years to come!
So, I see this Investiture Ceremony as very important, not only because we are bestowing honours on Sir Robin Yearwood, but also because it is an important aspect of nation-building.
I venture, once again, at this, another investiture to ask and answer the question, 'Why Do We Give Honours to our Nationals'?
It is important for our Nation to realize that we can and do produce men and women of the highest quality, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with other great men and women around the world.
Just as Antigua and Barbuda takes its place in the community of nations and speaks with its own voice, so too, our Nation at home speaks with one voice and honours one of our own, Sir Robin Yearwood.
You may ask why I refer to him as Sir Robin Yearwood. It should be noted that once the decision has been made by the Honours Committee, agreed to by the Honourable Prime Minister, recommended to the Grand Master of the Chancery or Governor General and it is published in the Gazette, one has the freedom to use the title and post-nominals that are ascribed to that honour. The ceremony, such as this one, publicly recognizes the de-cision made.
Our honours system is both a form of recognition and a form of inspiration.
In bestowing honours, we recognize those who have made outstanding contributions to national development and express the appreciation of a fledging nation.
The national development we see in Antigua and Barbuda today has been made possi-ble by the efforts and sacrifice of many persons, many of whom go unheralded.
At times like these, I want us all to remember that we are standing on the shoulders of those who came before us.
If our honours system is to serve its true purpose of recognition and inspiration, then those persons appointed to its honour rolls must be able to withstand scrutiny, proving that they are truly deserving.
If our honours system is to serve to inspire each and every citizen of our country, then the appointments must be made without fear or favour and must enjoy the broadest support, irrespective of political persuasion.
I believe that the honours we confer today truly represent the collective will of the people of Antigua and Barbuda.
I once again recognize our citizen being honoured today, our most recently appointed Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of the Nation (KGCN), Sir Robin Yearwood.