Frontline workers across Barbados were today saluted and thanked for going above and beyond the call of duty during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And, in saluting those who gave of their time and effort, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, said a further $500 would be given to those receiving awards to say “thank you, thank you”.
Similar accolades and gifts will also be bestowed on those to be honoured in a second awards ceremony expected to be held later this year.
Prime Minister Mottley made these announcements as she addressed the National Humanitarian Awards Ceremony at Kensington Oval this afternoon.
She also disclosed that the time had come for Barbados to move beyond heroes and freedoms, to also recognise Builders of Barbados, parish by parish.
She explained that her office, with agreement from Cabinet Office would work with the Presidency to mould and establish a category of Builders of Barbados to truly say “thank you”.
During her address, Prime Minister Mottley said many of those recognised in today’s ceremony were unable to attend because they were still on duty.
“It is against that backdrop that we determined that this is the first of two ceremonies because we want the opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to as many of those of you who have helped as is humanly possible,” Ms. Mottley stated.
She added that Government was aware that there were still some names not yet on the list and gave the assurance that over the next two months, permanent secretaries and heads of departments would have an opportunity to perfect the list.
“It is the intention of this Government to say ‘thank you’ to each and every one of you who made that defining difference,” the Prime Minister stated, noting that members of the media, who were an essential part of the battle, would also be included in the second group to be honoured.
“Without communication, we could not reach the people of this nation, and therefore, we look forward to you holding special place at the second ceremony as well,” she said.
Ms. Mottley added that while no amount of money could represent the gratitude of Government to those who gave of their service during the trying times, the sum of $500 was simply a further token of appreciation of thanks.
“Government recognised that even beyond the hazard allowance and the flexibility allowance, and the overtime pay, that what we did was to have you anchor a country without the country descending into panic or fear. And for that, we shall forever be grateful,” she stressed.
The Prime Minister also expressed her gratitude for the efforts of those in the health services to protect the majority of the Barbadian population from serious illness through vaccinations, the loss of lives, and minimise the number of persons suffering from long COVID.
She noted that while lives and livelihoods were lost and affected as a result of the pandemic, the country was making its way back with unemployment rates dropping to 10.9 per cent.
The Prime Minister promised that Government would do all that it could, even if it was not sufficient, to shield citizens from the worst aspects of the combination of the pandemic, the climate crisis, the disruption of the global supply and trade chains, and the war in Ukraine and elsewhere that are affecting how the world functions.
“That national goal that we set on being world class for 2027, that has been revised to 2030 because of the pandemic, is one that each and every Barbadian can be proud that we will achieve. It will not come easily but it will come with the effort and the resilience of us as a people,” she said, while imploring residents not to drop their guard.
The Freedom of Barbados, the Honorary Freedom of Barbados, the Gold Award of Achievement, the Humanitarian Service Medals, the Humanitarian Lapel Pins and the Humanitarian Plaques were awarded during today’s ceremony.
President of Barbados, Her Excellency The Most Honourable Dame Sandra Mason; Director General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus; National Hero, the Right Excellent Sir Garfield Sobers; Minister of Health and Wellness, Ian Gooding-Edghill, and former Minister of Health and Wellness, Lieutenant Colonel The Most Honourable Jeffrey Bostic, were among dignitaries in attendance at today’s ceremony.