The newly-appointed St. Vincent and the Grenadines sports and cultural ambassadors in the United States have expressed elation, saying they are honored to accept the roles bestowed on them by the government.
In his independence address to the nation on Independence Day, Oct. 27, at Victoria Park in Kingstown, the Vincentian capital, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph E. Gonsalves named Stella Boyea-Ashby and Gailene Windsor (netball), and Evangelist Bridget Blucher (gospel music), among 11 other “persons of merit and quality who have distinguished themselves in the fields of culture and sports.”
Boyea-Ashy and Windsor live in Brooklyn, while Blucher resides in Kissimmee, Central Florida, next to world-class theme parks, such as Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld Orlando.
The other ambassadors of “merit and quality” are: Lance John (cricket); Ezra Hendrickson and Marlon James (football – soccer ); Esther Robinson, Shirley Browne-Winsboro and Peggy Hull (netball); Adonal Foyle (basketball); and Wollis Christopher, James “Jamesy P” Morgan, Carlton “CP” Hall and Olson “Caribbean Pete” Peters (soca and / or calypso).
Gonsalves said the sporting and cultural ambassadors will “have the privilege, among other things, of carrying a diplomatic passport.”
“It’s an honor that I’m very appreciative of, and it shows that people recognize you before you pass away,” Windsor told Caribbean Life in an interview. “It’s better to receive it now, and it’s such a nice feeling.
“I want to thank the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and the Hon. Prime Minister and his Cabinet for such an honor,” added Windsor, who played netball for the nation from 1973 to 1979 and was a netball administrator in the U.S. for most of the years after migrating to Brooklyn.
“I will continue to work – and will work with the other ambassadors – in the interest of getting things done for St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” she continued.
Blucher, renowned as the Caribbean’s foremost “Gospel Diva,” also told Caribbean Life that she was “truly honored for the prime minister to award such a position.
“It’s a great honor to be recognized in such a capacity from your own,” she said, adding, “but I do what the Lord has appointed me to do in this aspect.
“I always see myself as a proud Vincentian,” she continued. “God has given me an opportunity to touch so many lives.”
In her acceptance letter to Gonsalves, a copy of which was obtained by Caribbean Life, Boyea-Ashy wrote that it was with “a sense of pride and love for country that I accept the honor.
“As you so richly and rightly themed your message ‘Love for Country,’ I, too, have pledged continued support for all Vincentians both at home and here in the Diaspora,” wrote Boyea, who captained the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Netball team for 14 years.
“I am not going to ask what my country could do for me,” she continued, referring partially to an all-too-famous maxim, popularized by slain U.S. President John F. Kennedy, and alluded to by the prime minister in his Independence Address.
Kennedy – at his inauguration address, as the 35th President of the United States, in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20, 1961 – said: “We observe today not a victory of party but a celebration of freedom — symbolizing an end, as well as a beginning — signifying renewal, as well as change.
“And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country,” he said.
Historians say Kennedy’s inaugural speech was as much a challenge to America’s youth as it was one of the greater speeches ever. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I have a Dream” is also rated among the greater, if not the greatest, ones.
Political analysts also say Kennedy’s inaugural address encompassed major themes of his campaign that would define his short presidency at a time of economic prosperity, emerging social changes and diplomatic challenges. His presidency ended prematurely on Nov. 22, 1963, with his unfortunate assassination.
“With God’s help, I will be actively involved in my nation’s building block, as I continue to practice love for country and the caring of each other,” Boyea-Ashby said. “We have a great group of Vincentians who have done yeoman service both here and in the homeland, and I will be re-committing myself to their ventures whenever possible.”
Boyea-Ashby, Windsor and Blucher join other members of the Vincentian Diaspora who have been named sporting / cultural ambassadors.
They are: Winston Soso, Stanley “Luxie” Morris, Alston “Becket” Cyrus, Kevin Lyttle and Cyril N. “Scorcher” Thomas.
“This signals an increased involvement by the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines with its Diaspora,” said New York-based United States Counsel General Selmon Walters, a former government minister. “This augurs well for the furtherance of the government’s foreign policy as it relates to the Diaspora.”
He said sporting and cultural Ambassadors “have gone a step further by continuing to exemplify great character and have been excellent role models in their communities.”
Maxwell Haywood, chair of the Brooklyn-based St. Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York, Inc., said that he endorsed Boyea-Asbhy and Windsor’s appointment as ambassadors, adding that they are members of his group.
“Both of them have been making outstanding contributions to sports and also to the development of the Vincentian Diaspora, without selfishness and arrogance,” said Haywood, in a brief statement, who is also a United Nations social development officer.