Gareth Manning, Staff Reporter
Prime Minister Bruce Golding (right) greets Professor Edward Robinson after Robinson was awarded the Order of Merit at the National Indoor Sports Centre yesterday. Looking on are Professor Anthony Chen (second right), who was also bestowed with the Order of Merit, and Father Richard Ho Lung, who was conferred with the Order of Jamaica. - Peta-Gaye Clachar/Staff Photographer
The traditional pomp at yesterday's national awards ceremony contrasted with the sombre mood of Lucine Johnson, whose sister, Verona, was honoured after dying in a heroic bid to save family members from a burning house.
Verona Johnson, of Kilmarnock, St Elizabeth, who had saved two relatives from the house before rushing back, in vain, to rescue her mother and niece, was posthumously awarded a badge of honour for her gallantry.
"It's really just a mix of emotions, but we are all happy to know she is being honoured for what she did," Lucine told The Gleaner yesterday.
Harriet Phillips and Oliver Rose were also awarded for their bravery, having helped rescue three of four persons who were trapped in a bus which plunged over a precipice into the sea in Portland in January. The fourth person died.
Approximately 124 persons were yesterday awarded by Governor General Sir Kenneth Hall for their achievements and dedicated service to Jamaica.
The ceremony was held inside the National Indoor Sports Centre, instead of its traditional home, the King's House lawns, because of uncertainty regarding the weather.
Among the main recipients were Nobel laureate and climatologist, Professor Anthony Chen, and distinguished geologist, Professor Edward Robinson. Both men were conferred with the Order of Merit, the third-highest national honour.
Six respected Jamaicans were also conferred with the Order of Jamaica, including gender specialist and educator, Professor Barbara Bailey; epidemiologist Professor Peter Figueroa; businessman Michael Lee Chin and Commissioner of Customs Danville Walker.
Monica Mellish, a St Thomas dressmaker and regular attendee, just could not miss the ceremony.
This year, she came to support former deputy headmaster of Cornwall College, Hyacinth Forde, who was being conferred with the Order of Distinction (Officer class).
Mellish is a big fan of men in uniform.
"I just love to see them. My husband is a sergeant major. He served for almost 30 years with JDF (Jamaica Defence Force) and I used to go to Camp all the time and just watch them. I just love the discipline," she said.
Family members of Danville Walker, OJ, commissioner of customs, came out to witness the happy occasion, as he received his national honour. They are (seated, from left): Denise Walker-Lewis, sister; mother Rema Walker and other sister Karen Walker-Coutrier. Behind them (from left) are: Richard Lewis, Lisa Bell, Stephen Bell, Jackie Johnson and Pierre Coutrier. - Photos by Peta-Gaye Clachar/Staff Photographer
Alec Sanguinetti, OD, and wife Flavia are picture perfect yesterday before receiving the Order of Distinction, Commander class, for contribution to the tourism and airline industries in Jamaica and the Caribbean .
Michael Lee Chin, OJ, (second right), who received the Order of Jamaica for outstanding service in business and philanthropy is joined by parents Vincent (left) and Gloria Chen (right); twin daughters Maria and Elizabeth Chen and fiancée Sonia Hamilton.
Evrol 'Blackie' Christian, OD, (right) and son Evrol George Christian are a proud pair. The former received the Order of Distinction in the rank of Officer for outstanding achievement in the development of Little Ochie.
Chairperson of Women's Leadership Initiative, Pat Ramsay, OD, (centre) received the Order of Distinction in the rank of Officer for her contribution to the arts. Joining her to celebrate are (from left): Candi Hayden-Peart, Kephra Burns, Lennon Peart, Susan Taylor, editorial director of Essence Magazine, and Patrick Parham.