Acting Governor General, Sir Philip Greaves. (FP)

Christmas Message 2017 by Acting Governor-General of Barbados, Sir Philip Greaves, K.A., Q.C.

Fellow Barbadians, Residents and Visitors to our shores, it is an honour and privilege for me to greet you on this Christmas Day. Christmas has always been a special time for many Barbadians, particularly Christians, as it is for people all over the world.

Traditionally, Barbadians take this opportunity to re-decorate their homes and spread Christmas cheer by extending peace and goodwill through tangible support to the less fortunate among us.  Generally, it is a time when people are more charitable to their fellow man, whether in the family, among friends, neighbours or work colleagues. The question is always asked why the Spirit of Christmas cannot pervade throughout the year.

It is important that the essence of Christmas remains foremost in our lives.  The birth of Jesus Christ over two thousand years and the significance of his birth to mankind is the reason we celebrate.

As we reflect on the birth of the Christ child, in a lowly manger, without pomp and pageantry, we are reminded that lowly origins are no barriers to greatness. The mission of Jesus and his life on earth was to preach peace, brotherly love and compassion. Accordingly, His life was one of service to his fellow man.

Over the years, we have seen that Christmas is associated with merriment and gaiety and the hustle and bustle of shopping.  It is important that the Christmas Spirit is not forgotten.

Over this past year, we have experienced various challenges including economic and social challenges. I believe that history has shown that we have the resilience and perseverance to weather these storms.

Regrettably, we have seen an upsurge in acts of violence, especially among our youth.  We have to make every effort to tackle the root cause of the problem and interventions must be made at various levels, including the home, church, school, community organisations and the government.  We have to assist our vulnerable young people so that they can achieve their full potential and make valuable contributions to the society.

On the other hand, we must acknowledge and encourage our young people, who through their various endeavours continue to make us proud as a nation.  Over the past year, we have seen young people being rewarded for their academic and culinary achievements, sporting exploits, community activities, and entrepreneurship, to name a few.

I was particularly pleased to note that a Barbadian is again among the Award Winners for 2018, the final year in The Queen’s Young Leaders Programme. A Barbadian has been among the Award winners from the inception and in 2016 two Barbadians were Award Winners.  The programme which was launched in July 2014 was for four years, with awards being given to young people aged eighteen to twenty-nine from across the fifty-two countries of the Commonwealth who have proved themselves to be exceptional and inspiring leaders in their communities.

As a country, we must continue to support our young people so that they will always aspire for excellence.

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At this Christmas time, when the focus is on the spirit of giving and sharing, I must salute the various social clubs, community and church groups and other organisations which throughout the year, assist the less fortunate and undertake several community projects.  We have the tendency to take this generosity for granted but these groups provide a vital service and complement the work of various government agencies. They must be highly commended for their humanitarian efforts.

The year 2017 was not without natural disasters which affected our region.  We were indeed fortunate to be spared the brunt force of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. This allowed us to mobilise our different resources to assist our Caribbean neighbours who were devastated by the effects of these hurricanes.

It has been my privilege over the past six months and also at Christmas time, to visit several of our Centenarians.  It is important to remember our senior citizens who have laboured tirelessly to build this country and they should be treasured in their sunset years.  A telephone call, a visit or some small act of assistance could make so much difference to a senior citizen who is alone at this Christmas time.

As we celebrate during this Christmas Season, I want to encourage you to take a moment to reflect on our many blessings and take the time to share peace and goodwill to someone in need.

I take this opportunity to wish all Barbadians, residents and visitors, a Happy Christmas and God’s Blessings for a Healthy, Productive and Rewarding 2018. And I advise all users of our network of roads and our services generally, to do so safely and with consideration for all users thereof, to respect the rights of our neighbours, and pay due respect to our laws which have been put in place for the protection of the young and old alike.

Let us make this season a truly memorable one.

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