Prince Edward praises youth, business community during packed 5-hour visit
By Mark Ramotar
Guyana Chronicle
October 23, 2003

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His Royal Highness Prince Edward yesterday completed a hectic, 'whirlwind' visit to Guyana during which he presented 16 young Guyanese with their internationally-acclaimed 'Gold Awards' in recognition of their hard work, dedication, commitment and sacrifice in successfully completing the President's Youth Award programme of Guyana.

At a ceremony at the Police Officers Mess, Eve Leary, Prince Edward congratulated the awardees and told them how proud he was of their achievement.

"It is you, the achievers, that we are honouring today. If you hadn't done it successfully, then many of us you're seeing here would not have been here today. Congratulations to you. We are very proud of your achievement. When you walk out of this room a bit later, just walk a few inches taller - you deserve it!" Prince Edward told the awardees.

The 16 awardees are Grenville Forrester, Ndizana Swinwingo, Roxroy Bollers, Sylvester Isaacs, Michael Jacobs, Garfield Amsterdam, Terrence King, Kofi Stephens, Clifton Johnson, Denzil Hernandzes, Audrey Peters, Warren Mitchell, Tenesha Patrick, Felix Perry Jr., Joy Duke and Latoya Whitehead.

HRH Prince Edward, who was born on March 10, 1964, is the youngest child of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh. He is also the Chairman of the International Award Association (IAA).

At the ceremony yesterday, Prince Edward acknowledged the support of the business community towards the President's Youth Award: Republic of Guyana (PYARG) programme, which is part of the IAA, and encouraged them to continue to support young people by giving them the opportunity to contribute to their communities and their country in a better and more meaningful way.

This appreciation was evident when he presented certificates to Omai Gold Mines Ltd., New Guyana Pharmaceutical Corporation, New Building Society, Nigel's Supermarket, The Gift Centre and B&K International, and handed out 'plaques' to Scotia Bank, GBTI and Courts Guyana Limited, which were all businesses and corporate enterprises, which have supported in the past, and continues to support the youth programme in Guyana.

President Bharrat Jagdeo, moments before sashing the 16 awardees, urged them to take away from the ceremony three important lessons: that their youth must never be wasted; that service to others is life's highest calling; and that true friendship is invaluable.

"Whenever I travel to and from work or to and from other engagements, I would often notice groups of young people enjoying each other's company on the streets (and) it is fascinating to observe the ease with which our young people, of all races and social classes mingle together. I see in them the enjoyment of youth, and genuine friendship, a bonding that augurs well for the future of our multi ethnic society," the Guyanese Head of State said.

President Jagdeo noted that an International Award for Young People is an excellent programme. In this regard, he commended the British Royal Family for undertaking this initiative. "We in Guyana are pleased to be associated with this programme and I pledge my government's continued support as it complements several other youth development programmes, including the Youth Choice Initiative."

He hoped the Earl of Wessex would return in the not too distant future "to experience more of our beautiful country."

The President indicated that the award not only encourages young people to explore new areas but also to acquire new talents and skills, something he alluded to as being "important processes of self- development".

"It is only by doing things that our young people will come to realize their talents and gifts and be able to put them to creative use. And as our youth discern their abilities, they become more aware of their own self-worth and their self esteem grows," Mr. Jagdeo asserted.

According to him, the task of imparting these skills and values to our young people would not have been possible without the selfless work of the numerous volunteers who so willingly offer their stewardship to our young people be it in teaching, imparting a skill, offering guidance or in simply providing encouragement. In this regard, he said the generosity of all the volunteers is greatly appreciated.

"It would be remiss of me if I did not acknowledge the support given by the Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture (Ms. Gail Teixeira) who has been an untiring advocate of this initiative, as well as the role played by the National Advisory Council," he told the gathering.

Prime Minister Sam Hinds, in remarks earlier during a fund-raising luncheon at the same venue, asserted that Prince Edward's visit to Guyana was mainly attributed to the "existence of a viable and effective youth programme (PYARG) here in Guyana". The Prime Minister also expressed optimism that the Prince's visit to Guyana would definitely aid in the facilitation of the PYARG programme being expanded and people getting to know a lot more about the programme.

The Prince's visit to Guyana lasted about five hours. He arrived at Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri, aboard a small VP-CAI aircraft around 12:40 hrs in slightly overcast conditions and he and his small party were greeted by British High Commissioner to Guyana, Mr. Stephen Hiscock, and Minister Gail Teixeira.

Children from the Timehri Primary School were also at the airport, lined in a neat row waiving the British Flag - The Union Jack - as they waited anxiously to greet His Royal Highness. There were also scores of security officials, media operatives and other officials in the welcoming party at the airport.

Prince Edward's visit, which was coordinated by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport, included a courtesy call on President Bharrat Jagdeo at the Presidential Complex in Georgetown; the laying of wreaths at the Police Monument Place of Fallen Heroes and the Commonwealth War Graves Memorial Cemetery.