Olympic double bronze medalist Lalonde Gordon and Olympic double finalist Kelly Ann Baptiste were among seven recipients of the THA Chief Secretary’s 2012 Awards on Tuesday night.
Besides the two sport awards, three were presented in academics, one in culture and one in tourism. The awards in academics were presented to Clint Arthur who is on a Chevening Scholarship pursuing a Master’s in Criminal Justice in the United Kingdom, Tricia Diaz who is a National Scholarship winner in Visual Arts and Lawrence Michael Sandy who is also a on Chevening Scholarship pursuing a Master’s in Sustainable Energy Futures in the United Kingdom. National Medium Steel Band Champion at the 2012 Panorama Katzenjammers Steel Orchestra copped the culture award while Coco Reef Resort & Spa which won the World Travel Award 2012 as the Caribbean’s leading hotel and Tobago’s leading resort won the tourism award.
The annual awards which were presented on Assembly Day by THA Chief Secretary Orville London at the Victor E Bruce Financial Complex, Scarborough formed part of the 32nd Anniversary of the Tobago House of Assembly celebrations.
In addressing the large audience, London said over the past decade when he addressed such a gathering as Chief Secretary he had approached the responsibility with the greatest reverence and a cherished opportunity for reflection. He added that there was however, a special challenge during this highly politicised environment.
He said it was vital that the anniversary was not politicised because the significance of the THA was far beyond political parties, partisan agendas or even divergent views on policy. “The THA is a living symbol of our journey as Tobagonians for self-determination, prosperity and political equality. These are goals that I expect all Tobagonians to share, regardless of the rivalries, and the contentious climate of an election season,” London said.
He recalled that Tobago had changed hands many times in the past and the different rulers it has had in its sometimes turbulent, but vibrant history. “Perhaps that is why, at this time, we as a people must be dedicated to ensuring that the only hands into which Tobago is placed, are Tobagonian hands – our hands today and those of our children tomorrow. This is what the THA stands for, not political partisanship, but self-governance,” he said.
London said it was the area of autonomy that should be of greatest concern at this time and it must be accepted that the quest for greater autonomy will always be an ongoing process. He added: “Tobago, through the THA has greater power over its own destiny today, than it ever had during its post-colonial existence. That is an achievement of which we should all be proud and it is an accomplishment for which we must be grateful to the many Tobagonian leaders, who made autonomy a priority, and fought and sacrificed to achieve it.”
He said the current THA was dedicated to continuing this legacy, adding that at the end of 2011, it forwarded copies of draft bills to the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago which dealt with the issue of internal self-government; those bills represented the views of the people of Tobago garnered over a three-year period and those voices and those wishes cannot and must not be ignored.
The Tobago Chief Secretary said there were roadblocks ahead but they will persevere. “I have confidence,” he added, “that for the 33rd anniversary of the Tobago House of Assembly, we will be celebrating the fact that a new path towards greater autonomy has been illuminated. I am also confident that your current leadership will be heading those celebrations.”