Thu | Nov 21, 2019

Large tent big hit at awards ceremony

Published:Monday | October 21, 2019 | 3:57 PM
Kenyon Hemans photo

Paul Clarke, Gleaner Writer

In the past when rain threatened activities at the annual Ceremony of Investiture and Presentation of Awards, organisers would be scrambling for some alternate arrangement.

This year, for the first time, a completely enclosed tent was used to shield those in attendance from the elements.

Sections of the island, including Kingston, experienced rain between last night and early this morning.

To the relief of the hosts, the Governor General Sir Patrick Allen and Lady Allen, Prime Minister Andrew Holness, along with his staff at the Office of the Prime Minister, it was most welcomed and a cool change from the past where attendee would have to brave the sweltering heat on the expansive lawns of King’s House.

Major Anthony Lisyght of the Jamaica Defence Force, which helped to prepare the venue for the ceremony, told The Gleaner that it was a challenge that had to be met.

“Each year there is a challenge with making preparations for all the recipients in one space for both wet and dry weather and we could see the evidence this year that we had some considerable rain over the period leading up to the event.

“So the leadership at the relevant levels would have decided to have a single solution to fit both occasions, hence this large tent structure with portable air conditioning units to make it really comfortable for everybody including recipients, guests and everybody in attendance. We wanted to give the feeling of room temperature or just above to ease the heat for the ceremony,” said Lisyght.

In  2007, with the uncertainty surrounding the weather, the organisers took the ceremony to the National Indoor Centre.

It was also held three times inside the Ball Room at King’s House for similar reasons.

On those occasions, smaller tents were placed outside for spill over attendance.

“It is the first time that we are using a completely enclosed tent for this event, and I am extremely pleased to say that it has worked well,” said Fae Ellington, the event’s perennial master of ceremony.

“Screens were strategically placed around the tent to make for better viewing of proceedings for those who had a bad line of sight to the staging area. It was very decent,” she said.

Sixty-one-year-old Desrita Malcolm said that she was making her 18th consecutive awards ceremony and that this year's event was the most comfortable.

“For once the common people were thought of. It was really nice and cool inside, even when the heat was getting up on the outside. So older folks like myself were not preoccupied with trying to be comfortable; it was lovely. I hope it’s like this each year from now on,” Malcolm said.

More than 200 persons received national honours and awards today.

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