Seven receive SVG Diaspora Heritage Awards

Laverne Munro (center) accepts award on behalf of Evangelist Bridget Blucher, flanked by Garnes Byron and Sherill-Ann Mason-Haywood.
Photo by Nelson A. King

The Brooklyn-based St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) Diaspora Committee of New York, Inc. Saturday night honored six individuals and a group during its 3rd Heritage Awards and Gala ceremony at the Friends of Crown Heights Educational Center in Brooklyn.

Former St. Vincent and the Grenadines national netball captain Stella Boyea-Ashby received the Lifetime Achievement Award for Sports; former national netball star Gloria Lewis and ex-national soccer star Adolphus “Pabits” Davis received the Sports Award; Evangelist Bridget Blucher and soca artiste Shertz “Problem Child” James received the Culture Award; and youth leader Kyra-Lee Harry and the Brooklyn-based St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ex-Teachers Association of New York received the Humanitarian Award.

Blucher and James were not personally on hand to receive their respective awards.

Laverne Munro, a retired, Brooklyn-based, Registered Nurse and Blucher’s friend, received on the award for Blucher, who was, at the time, in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Master of Ceremonies Atiba Williams said James had just arrived on a flight from an undisclosed location.

He read a message, in part, from James: “I’m very humbled to receive this award.”

The Diaspora Committee of New York, Inc. also paid homage to its late chairman Maxwell Haywood and member Moreen King during the five-hour-long ceremony, presenting Memorial Awards to the families of Haywood and King for “exemplary service and dedication to SVG Diaspora Committee of NY, Inc. and the Vincentian community.”

Sherill-Ann Mason-Haywood’s the group chairperson, who succeeded Haywood, her late husband, said the distinguished awardees have “collectively demonstrated the highest virtues of a people by their commitment to their respective talents and passions.”

“They have individually and collectively espoused the highest levels of discipline and commitment,” added Mason-Haywood, an educator by training, in her remarks in the souvenir journal. “Their contributions have made us, and continue to make us, proud to call ourselves Vincentians.

“Their successes are our successes, and their examples of perseverance in the face of difficulties are a testament of our unique Vincentianness,” continued Mason-Haywood at the ceremony, which was attended by Vincentian Sen. Deborah Alexander-Charles, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education National Reconciliation and Information, and Consul General to New York, Howie Prince.

“We are an exceptional people, with a rich history and legacy of bravery and determination — all qualities our awardees collectively possess.,” Mason-Haywood said. “Truly tonight, we celebrate our Vincentian exceptionalism.”

Boyea-Ashby, a St. Vincent and the Grenadines sports ambassador, who captained the national netball team for over 14 years, gave “all honor and glory to “the Most High, who has kept us thus far and would continue to keep us.”

“Tonight, I have the honor to say to the president and members of the SVG Diaspora Committee of New York my sincerest thank you for recognizing a lifetime of my service to country in netball — internationally, locally and here in the Diaspora,” said Boyea-Ashby a member of the Vestry at St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, in her acceptance address. “It was my passion. At a point in my life, I didn’t know anything else.”

After also thanking her husband, Keith Ashby, members of St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church and the Girls High School Alumnae Association of New York, among others, Boyea-Ashby urged patrons to “simply change you” whenever they want a “do-over” or “reset.”

“It will be for the better,” she advised, invoking afterwards and receiving a standing ovation, her favorite quote from the Dali Lama: “’If you can, help others. If you cannot do that, at least do not harm them.’”

Using excerpts from her soon-to-be released CD, “She is a River,” Vincentian Spoken Word Artiste Janelle Paris Jolly paid tribute to Boyea-Asby.

“Like a river, you’re unstoppable,” she told Boyea-Ashby. “She’s sassy; she’s bubbly; she knows where she’s going. The river, like Stella, never ends.”

Siboney Hector also serenaded Boyea-Ashby on pan with “She’s a Queen”, “Isn’t She Lovely” and “Vincy Sweet.”

Lewis, who started playing netball at 12, said she was “very pleased and happy” to receive the award, adding that she is “still involved at this time.”

Davis, who debuted for the St. Vincent and the Grenadines national football (soccer) team in 1969, said Rudolph “Rudy” Boucher, a former national caption,” was “the best to come out of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”

“I could have shut my eyes and play with him,” said Davis about Boucher, who was among patrons.

Harry, a rising junior at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering, studying business and technology management, praised the Diaspora Committee for the honor, saying she was “truly humbled, grateful and so thankful.”

Jackson Farrell, president of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ex-Teachers Association of New York, said his group was “forever grateful” for the recognition.

He then echoed Mason-Haywood’s call for unity in the Vincentian community.

“We need to work together,” urged the retired public school teacher in Brooklyn. “Please, let’s work together – not by jawbone but by backbone.”

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