Daviot Kelly, Staff Reporter
Former OJ awardees speak of life with nation's fourth-highest honour
It's a fancy feather to have in one's cap - the Order of Jamaica. With it also comes the privilege of attaching the post-nominal letters 'OJ' to your name.
This year, eight Jamaicans (one posthumously) will be added to the number of recipients over the years.
Protocol says they will not be 'given' the OJ, rather they will be appointed as members of the Order. Yesterday, The Gleaner asked previous appointees about being in the august Order, and what they've done with the insignia.
Bishop Herro Blair, appointed in 2007, said: "It places more demand on the individual to live up to the expectations."
Blair opined that everyone, including the political directorate and national leaders, expects members "to live up to a certain standard" as they still have a role to serve. He said he keeps the insignia on a shelf in his office, but though proud to be a member of the Order it represents, he has never worn it.
"That's just my personality. I have received many awards, but I don't wear them," he said with a chuckle.
Jamaicans for Justice Executive Director Dr Carolyn Gomes, appointed in 2009, dons her insignia "when appropriate".
"As often as I get invited to state events, I do wear it," she said. She agreed that the onus is always on the individual to live and act in ways that represent a "high standard" and that expectation doesn't stop.
"So I presume they would take it back if you behave badly," she reasoned. When asked if she shines and polishes it, Gomes joked that she hasn't had it long enough for it to get rusty.
"I do take it out and look at it sometimes, though," she said with a laugh.
This year's appointees are Enid Bennett, Frederick 'Toots' Hibbert, Neville 'Bunny Wailer' Livingstone, Derrick Rochester, Ferdinand Mahfood, Archbishop Emeritus Donald Reece, Professor Henry Lowe and the late Howard Aris.
In this year of our 50th Independence celebration, how do you feel being honoured for your outstanding contribution?
Aldrick 'Allie' McNab (service to the field of sports):
My first reaction was that it couldn't have come at a better time than our 50th Independence celebrations. It's really a culmination of not only my work but the persons who have worked along with me, who I can't even begin to thank. I am, however, grateful because over the years, the experience has built my character. I have been a sportsman all my life, and having persons who believe in me and people to encourage me is a main factor of what kept me going. A lot of hard work was done because there is no short cut to success and I am indeed grateful.
Ralston McKenzie (contribution to broadcasting and community service):
This is indeed one of the 'highs' in my life. It's a dream come true. Many persons were saying it's long overdue and it should have happened a long time ago, but there is no time like the right time. A lot of sacrifices have been made over the years, many of my overseas pursuits were put on hold. It was a journey and I'm just honoured.
Myrtle Halsall (30 years of service to the Bank of Jamaica):
I'm elated! I'm honoured because I'm sure they considered a number of other persons and to be chosen at this particular time, I'm indeed grateful. Working in Jamaica in the economic field is indeed interesting. There is never a dull moment - always something new, always something evolving and I love my job. That's what has kept me going.
William 'JC' Hutchinson (for over 20 years of service to Parliament):
It feels good. I'm indeed pleased. All my years of service to my constituencies and Parliament have not gone unnoticed amid the challenges. My primary reason for going into Parliament was to help people, particularly children, and I have tried my best over the years to assist as best as I possibly can through projects such as the breakfast programme, among other things. It feels good.