Paula Kerr-Jarrett Wegman cops prestigious Commonwealth Award
Virgin Atlantic’s Sir Richard Branson introduced Jamaica’s special ambassador in charge of philanthropy and investment, Paula Kerr-Jarrett Wegman, as she accepted the St George’s Society New York (SGSNY) Commonwealth Award at the English Ball in Manhattan last Tuesday night.
Kerr-Jarrett Wegman shared the spotlight with hotel mogul Sir Rocco Forte, who received the Medal of Honour, and former SGSNY executive John Shannon, who was presented with the Order of St George’s Society, at a black-tie affair that raised over US$100,000, within a record five minutes, for the charity founded in 1770.
The Montego Bay businesswoman who represents Jamaica’s enormous diversity, was nominated by the country’s eighth consul general to NY, Geneive Brown Metzger.
“Paula is a true positive force committed to the development of her beloved Jamaica and its equal. She firmly believes that there should be fair opportunity for all, and that your past should not determine your future,” stated Branson during a virtual introduction of the woman who supported the establishment of his Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship in Montego Bay in 2011.
Branson, who is convinced that through sound education and self-development, everybody can fulfil their full potential, lauded Kerr-Jarrett Wegman for her commitment to foster a culture of leadership and entrepreneurship. “She delivered on that commitment through her invaluable support for the creation of the Branson Centre as a founding board member,” he stated.
Ten years on, Kerr-Jarrett Wegman continues to support emerging entrepreneurs, consistently making positive impact on the lives of others. She is involved in countless organisations, raising funds or heightening awareness for the needs of poor communities.
Kerr-Jarrett Wegman was one of the original members of the Economic Growth Council, doing exceptional work to promote new investments to Jamaica, added Branson.
The star of the evening’s event, Kerr-Jarrett Wegman, who was named special envoy by Prime Minister Andrew Holness in 2019, in her response, spoke of the tremendous support she had received since plans were announced to recognise her. “To be recognised by the oldest charity in America, which is so impressive, makes it an even more proud moment,” she told the gathering, which included her husband Danny Wegman and Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States, Audrey Marks.
Kerr-Jarrett Wegman said she became more cognisant of the work of the historic charity when she realised how many persons from the Commonwealth have been helped.
“They have the American dream, they come here and they start out with all the good intentions of completing their education, but for some reason in the last year they can’t graduate, because they just can’t make ends meet,” she stated.
In her message to students who become recipients or applicants of the scholarship, Kerr-Jarrett Wegman told them they could be anything they want to be. “You have to set your goals. You have the support of many people in this room, who are always willing to step up to the plate and who actually are limitless in their generosity, so I would say, go for it,” were among her words of encouragement to students from Commonwealth countries seeking assistance.
With rare exceptions, the SGSNY has held the English Ball annually since its founding in 1770. Members, corporate leaders and honoured guests gather to enjoy an evening of dining, dancing, and recognition of distinguished members of the Anglo-American and Commonwealth communities