No review of the spectacular achievements in education and the development which Barbados has enjoyed during the past 55 years should underestimate the part played by the Barbados Government Information Service (BGIS).

Minister in the Prime Minister???s Office, Senator Darcy Boyce, made this observation last Saturday, while addressing the BGIS??? 55th Anniversary Cocktail Reception and Awards Ceremony at Hotel PomMarine, Marine Gardens, Hastings, Christ Church.

He said the BGIS, under the leadership of successive outstanding Chief Information Officers, had kept Barbadians informed and in so doing, enabled parents to inspire generations of children and young people to take advantage of the opportunities for education and employment offered by and through government.

Senator Boyce noted that as the organisation continued to fulfill its mandate as a communication hub for government, in the future, it would have to fully embrace the social media

Stating that in 2010, the department launched its website, which he described as the fastest growing section within the BGIS, the new area had been overshadowed by social media, which is the medium of choice for younger generations. In this regard, he said the organisation, in the years ahead, would ???have to rise to the challenge of optimising this new medium to reach all of us, especially the younger generations who may pay far less attention to traditional media???.

???Such an initiative would tax your resources but the new social media is far more dynamic, and an interactive means of communicating,??? Senator Boyce added.

Cognisant of the growth in technology, Senator Boyce said the BGIS was operating in challenging times that had far-reaching social, cultural and political implications for the entire society.

He explained that the BGIS??? employees were working in a sector that had witnessed a modern technological revolution; a modern information age in which for the first time in human history, average citizens now had instantaneous access to ???vast store houses of information???.

???Increasing amounts of information, good and bad, accurate and inaccurate, truth and fabrication, are now being made very easy accessible through the internet to more and more people of all ages. Does this mean that there is no longer a role for the BGIS? Obviously it does not. In fact, it increases the workload of the BGIS and it is imperative that the accurate and wholesome information, provided by the Barbados Government Information Service, takes a strategic, continuous and timely place in critical mass, on this media, in order to counterbalance the misinformation that at times would seek to dominate our lives in this time and on this media,??? Senator Boyce underlined.

After the formalities, it was time for some members of staff of the BGIS to be rewarded for their hard work and dedication to the organisation.

Stenographer Melnese Williams received the Cornerstone Award for her 35 years of service to the department and the Support Staff Award.

Staffers who received 30-year awards were Acting Chief Information Officer, Sharon Lynch, Felton Ince, Philbert Robinson and Gweneth Vaughan.

The 25-year Awardees were Cameron Layne, Cathy Lashley, Ian Inniss and Lynn Lucas, while 20-year awards went to Carl Allman, Aaron Greenidge and Joy Springer.

The 15-year awardees were Randolph Lokai, Sharon Austin-Gill-Moore, Eyvette McClean, Joy-Ann Gill, Theresa Blackman, Kathyann Husbands, Joyanne Miller and Gillian Applewhaite.

Those receiving 10-year awards were Trevor Springer, Carol Gaskin, Yvonne Beckles, Andre Skeete, Esther Jones, Lisa Bayley, Marcel Jordan, Paulette Hurdle, Paula Harper-Grant and Kim Ramsay-Moore.

Apart from longevity awards, staffers were recognised for their work in production. The John Manning Award for the Best Television Programme went to Lisa Bayley and Felton Ince for the series Behind the Fences.

The Gladstone Holder Award for the best press release or feature went to Sharon Austin-Gill-Moore; while Julie Carrington and Joy-Ann Gill received Certificates of Honourable mention for their outstanding work.

Shayla Murrell captured the Baldwin Phillips Award for the Best Radio Programme, while Trevor Springer received the Staff Choice Award for his loyalty to the department, dedication to work, professionalism and his general behaviour and manner.

Felton Ince also captured the Cinematographer of the Year Award, while Behind the Fences was adjudged the Best Television Production of the Year.

Philbert Robinson copped the Margaret Hope Award of Excellence and Esther Jones, the Chief Information Officer???s Award.

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