Thu | Sep 24, 2020

JDF goes platinum - Army wins top RG Award

Published:Thursday | February 21, 2019 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Lieutenant General Rocky Meade, chief of defence staff of the Jamaica Defence Force, which won the 2018 RG Platinum Award at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel yesterday evening.
Lieutenant General Rocky Meade (third left, front row) and members of the JDF who won the RG Platinum Award 2018 on February 20.
Lieutenant General Rocky Meade (left) receives, on behalf of the Jamaica Defence Force, the RG Platinum Award from RJRGLEANER Group CEO Gary Allen (centre) and Douglas Orane, chairman of the 2018 RJRGLEANER Honour Awards selection committee. The Gleaner Honour Awards Gala was held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Wednesday evening.

The Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) last night received the RG Platinum Award for its sterling service to nation building through the Jamaica National Service Corps, a state-led initiative aimed at transforming at-risk youth into model citizens and producing an army of competent workers to drive industry and commerce.

Even amid the roars of approval that swept the ballroom of The Jamaica Pegasus, Lieutenant General Rocky Meade’s sure-footed march before accepting the RJRGLEANER Group’s award oozed humility.

The Man of the Year Award was this year renamed the Platinum Award.

Meade, chief of defence staff of the JDF, paid tribute to the hardworking members of the force.

“This award means that the sacrifice of the JDF has not gone unnoticed. In order to have this programme, we had to have these soldiers out working,” he said to the Honour Awards Gala audience.

“It means a lot that their work has been recognised,” Meade said.

The lieutenant general also hailed the efforts of Prime Minister Andrew Holness, Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke, and others who have spearheaded the programme.

According to Meade, while the JDF has plans to assist the police in maintaining law and order, the programme would “change Jamaica one youth as a time”.

“I am humbled because we were amongst giants in this room, and any one of these category winners could have won it,” Meade added.

Praised for their work in getting a key government initiative off the ground, the Jamaica National Service Corps (JNSC) has trained, educated, and inspired more than 1,500 at-risk youths, sending them on their way to become agents of positive change in their communities.

Stating a vision for Jamaica as one where “citizens will be free from most of the threats … one where the average person is able to live his or her life anywhere in the country without the types of threats that exist; where young people are driving the country’s economic development in the future, and where the JDF continues to play a significant role in the security outcomes and the socio-economic outcomes of the country”, the army men have distinguished themselves by copping the award in the category of education.

The JDF also won the Red Stripe Stand Up Award at the Honour Awards Gala.

They have joined a select group to have won one of Jamaica’s most prestigious awards, sharing the distinction with the likes of Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, Owen Ellington, Edward Seaga, Dr Christopher Tufton, Sir Florizel Glasspole, and 2017 Man of the Year, Professor Gordon Shirley.

To date, 1,571 youngsters across five overlapping cohorts have benefited from the JNSC programme, an example of the army’s commitment to the task.

The JNSC falls under the Government’s Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) initiative, targeting job and training opportunities for unattached young people aged 19 to 24.

Special mention goes to the other awardees in the categories of Arts and Culture, Poet Laureate Lorna Goodison; Public Service – Pamela Monroe Ellis; Business – the National Commercial Bank; Voluntary Service – Melvyn Tennant; Science and Technology – the Mona GeoInformatics Institute; Health and Wellness – National Health Fund; Alia Atkinson – Sports; and Entertainment – Reggae Sumfest.

Special awardees included Marvin G. Hall for Science and Technology; Dr Wendel Abel – Health and Wellness; Jamaica senior national women’s football team (Reggae Girls) – Sports; Dalton Harris –Entertainment; and Richard Pandohie – Business.