Seven outstanding people were recently honoured with the richly deserved Meritorious Medal by the Governor-General. The honorees have played important roles in modern Belize History.
There was not enough time in the allotted time to say everything that should have been said about these wonderful people and their achievements. For instance, take the career of Mr. Wilfred Peters. About 35 years ago Mr. Peters was earning less than $5.00 a day as a construction worker in Belize City. But he knew how to play the accordion.
He had a couple of other friends who earned small amounts of money per day and they knew how to play the guitar and the drums. They decided to combine their talents and form a trio which was named The Mahogany Chips – playing traditional Belize Bruk Down music. Now they earned $5.00 per night plus bus fare and a little rum and cokes.
The Mahogany Chips caught on and soon the group changed its name to Boom and Chine and more men were added. You know the rest of the story. They played all over Belize and the world. Mr. Peters became a Belize celebrity in the West Indies, the United States, the U. K. and elsewhere. He is a hero for he has single-highhandedly preserved the traditional music of old Belize.
Corporal Colin Faux
Corporal Colin Faux and three other policemen suddenly found themselves in a fire fight on the Belize side of the Guatemala border with bandits. Although he was wounded in the early minutes of the fight, Corporal Faux stood and returned fire. More bandits appeared across the Mopan River and began firing at the policemen. In short order one of Corporal Faux’s bullets hit one of the Guatemalan bandits. This caused the invaders to run back across the Guatemalan border, supporting the bleeding attacker. The following day Guatemalan police officers reported that the wounded bandit was the leader of a gang of thieves being sought for months. He was only 17 years-old and led a gang of 15 others. It is thought that these criminals were coming to Benque Viejo to rob the BTL office of its phone cards.
Another honoree was Ms. Ivy Hall, the first Public Health Nurse appointed in British Honduras. Who knows how many sick people were healed because of her diligent efforts to help her fellow men and women. Remember this was in the days long before modern equipment, miracle drugs and paved roads or ambulances.
Education is the road from poverty to success all over the world. One of the best tools that educators have is a good library near at hand for the students. A medal also went to an outstanding librarian, Ms. Alice Gibson. She was appointed Chief Librarian of Belize when the great Leo Bradley retired. Ms. Gibson took over the foundation laid by Mr. Bradley and built upon until there were dozens of libraries in the country. Although she retired from the Government Service some time ago she is still working today. She is in charge of the library at the Pallotti High School.
Many of us associate Mr. Arthur Hoare with the first cable television service in Belize City. His home on Baymen Avenue eventually sprouted satellite dishes while miles of cables were strung along the streets. But for older heads Arthur Hoare was famous for his boat building talents. He worked long and hard to build boats of all kinds for Belize and for foreign clients. The Lady Alexandria, a luxury yacht for some Americans, became well known in many parts of the world. She was probably the largest boat ever built in this country.
There is no need for me to recite the career success for Ms. Marie Sharp. Her hot sauce and other food products are known in many parts of the world. The persistence she has displayed to overcome huge problems make her a hero and role model for all Belizeans.
A housewife from the Stann Creek districr who made a mean Habanero pepper sauce loved by her family and friends, she began to bottle it as gifts. Then she converted her kitchen into a small home factory and began to bottle the pepper sauce for sale.
Today working from a modern food processing facility, this fine Belize pepper sauce is exported all over the world including the U.S.A. and Japan. She has truly placed Belize on the world map of foods and condiments.
Last, but surely not least, is His Excellency Charles Tsai, the Ambassador of the Republic of China, Taiwan to Belize. For five years he has provided Belize and Belizeans with help in a wide variety of fields—education, agriculture, the arts, music, industry and more. We owe him and all these honorees more than a medal. They have provided all of us the kind of examples we need to admire and emulate.