Prince Edward urges more support for youth scheme
Sixteen receive gold awards
By Miranda La Rose
Stabroek News
October 23, 2003

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Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex, on his first visit to Guyana yesterday urged the local business community, civil society and non-governmental organisations to support the President Youth Award: Republic of Guyana (PYARG) programme.

Speaking at a fund-raising lunch at the Police Officers’ Mess, Eve Leary, Prince Edward, who was on a five-hour visit to promote the PYARG programme, noted that it provides opportunities for the improvement of young people. The PYARG was launched in Guyana in 1998 and currently has a membership of about 1,200 across the country.

Prior to the awards ceremony the British Prince held a private meeting with the National Advisory Commit-tee of the PYARG, which former commissioner of police Laurie Lewis now heads. Lewis chaired the proceedings at the luncheon and the awards ceremony.

Prince Edward, who is the chairman of the Duke of Edinburgh International Award Association, told the gathering of about 200 prominent members of the local and diplomatic communities, that the programme enables young people to link with adults who will give them opportunities to improve themselves, and who encourage them to achieve their objectives.

Urging them to help young people to build a better future, Prince Edward told the gathering that somebody, somewhere had given them a piece of advice or provided an opportunity to them which made them what they were today. “It might have been a teacher, a sportsman, a musician, a businessman...”, who helped in life. “That’s what the programme is about”, he said.

He said that it might not be academic work that motivates young people but activities, such as a hobby, sports, or service in the community or an expedition. The ability to achieve in these areas, he said, could motivate young people to achieve academically and that is the secret behind the success of the programme which is currently being run in over 100 countries.

Thanking patrons for supporting the luncheon which cost $5,000 a plate, Prince Edward, the youngest son of Queen Elizabeth II, said that they were giving young people the opportunity to improve lives, to provide service to the community and to become leaders of the future.

He presented certificates and plaques to a number of entities which had supported the programme to date. Those receiving certificates were Omai Gold Mines Ltd, Modern Optical Service, the New GPC, the New Building Society, Nigel’s Supermarket, the Gift Centre, and BK International. Those receiving plaques were Scotia Bank, the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry and Courts Guyana Ltd.

Prince Edward thanked the people who turned out to greet him at the airport and on his way to the city, where he presented 16 young people with certificates and gold pins for achieving their gold awards. The young people, who previously achieved bronze and silver awards are now eligible to be unit leaders.

Prince Edward congratulated Ndizana Swinwingo, Grenville Forrester, Roxroy Bollers, Sylvester Isaacs, Michael Jacobs, Garfield Amsterdam, Terrence King, Kofi Stephens, Clifton Johnson, Denzil Hernandez, Audrey Peters, Warren Mitchell, Tenesha Patrick, Felix Perry Jr, Joy Duke and Latoya Whitehead on their achievement and pointed to the challenges they would encounter in achieving their goals. The awardees’ ages range between 14 and 25 years. Their achievement, he said was due to teamwork, which included support from family members, friends and the community including businesses and civil society.

He also expressed thanks to President Bharrat Jagdeo for adopting the programme and Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Gail Teixeira - who welcomed him at the airport and accompanied him throughout his visit - for its implementation.

The prince’s plane arrived at 1235 hrs, some 20 minutes behind the scheduled time and he apologised profusely for his lateness to the group of Primary Four pupils of the Timehri Primary School, who were on hand to welcome him along with Teixeira. Ten-year-old Omadai Singh welcomed him with a garland of marigolds, while her colleague, Syan Reeves garlanded him with roses.

“I’m glad I made it at last,” Prince Edward told the media and later on promised to return for a longer visit.

In his address at the gold awards ceremony, President Jagdeo said he believed that the international award for young people was an excellent programme.

Commending the British Royal Family for undertaking the initiative, he said that Guyana was pleased to be associated with the programme and pledged government’s continued support as it complements several other youth development programmes including the President’s Youth Choice Initiative. At the very kernel of the PYARG, Jagdeo said, is the rounded formation of youth. It not only encourages young people to explore new areas but to also to acquire new talents and skills which are important processes of self-development.

He noted that it brought together young people from diverse backgrounds, surmounting the barriers of race, religion, and social class and contributing to understanding and tolerance in society. Three lessons, which he urged the young people to take away from the ceremony were: youth must never be wasted; service to others is life’s highest calling; and true friendship is invaluable.

In brief remarks, Prime Minister Sam Hinds, noted that the responsibility for youth development rests not only with the government but civil society, the business community and family.

Hinds thanked former chief of staff of the Guyana Defence Force, Major General (rtd) Joe Singh who introduced the programme to the Guyana government.

During his visit, Prince Edward laid wreaths at the police force’s Fallen Heroes Monument and at the graves of soldiers of the two world wars at Eve Leary. Secretary General of the Duke of Edinburgh International Award, Paul Arengo Jones, was part of the prince’s entourage.