Held at the Grand Lucayan Resort on Friday, November 9, under the theme, ‘The Public Service … igniting a positive change for future generations,’ 34 long standing public service workers throughout various government departments were recognized for their unwavering service in the public service sector, some for more than 40 years.
Minister of State in the Public Service and National Insurance, Brensil Rolle; Minister of State for Grand Bahama in the Office of the Prime Minister, Sen. J. Kwasi Thompson and Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Harcourt Brown along with other senior government officials, heads of government departments, representatives from the Ministry of Public Service and National Insurance from New Providence, friends and family members of the honorees were all in attendance.
Rolle, who was the keynote speaker for the event noted the importance of attending such the appreciation luncheon. “As a public officer, and I see it from this perspective, I stood on their shoulders, they have paved the way for me and the next generation. It is really an honour for me to be here, to celebrate with them and to tell them how much I care about their contributions. I know of their work and a significant number of them are doing extremely well. I would not have missed this opportunity to be here to celebrate with them, to let them know that The Bahamas Government and the Ministry of Public Service not only recognizes their service, but that we fully appreciate the struggles, sometimes frustrations as well that they have had to come through, to come to this day.”
Sen. Thompson further expressed to the honorees, “We want to say thank you to each and every one of you. It has been an eye-opening experience for me; someone who has come from the private sector and has been given the privilege to serve in the public sector … whatever is said out there, I want to personally say that the public service in Grand Bahama and across The Bahamas are some of the best employees.
“Do not mind what is said of you, I want to say to you, as someone who has been on the outside and someone who has had the privilege to be on the inside, you make the government work and it still means something to be a public servant. It is not just a label, but it still means something of great value to be a public servant. It is actually one of the highest posts that you can have outside of being a part of the clergy. In my opinion, it is one of the most important and privileged roles that you can have, as an employee, to serve the public.
“I want to say on behalf of the prime minister (Dr. Hubert Minnis) and on behalf of myself and my family, how privileged we are to have some employees like yourselves and have some public servants like yourselves, distinguished men and women, like yourselves and anyone who has been able to serve this country and do it in a distinguished way for 30, 40 and 50 years, you deserve more than we can even give. Thank you for your service,” stated Thompson.
This daily had the opportunity to speak with four of the honorees who shared their thoughts on the recognition. Herbert Marshall, a veteran educator for 42 years shared, “All humans love to be recognized for some achievement and that is always a good thing, to recognize people for what they do and also to feel recognized. The fact that they see fit to acknowledge that we have had years of service and have come to this particular point, now, where we are going on to something different, we certainly are thankful to receive the recognition.”
Marshall has served in the public service sector since 1972. “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in this service, in the Department of Education. I am truly happy that I had the opportunity to help young people, particularly. When you help people that in of itself is a gift back to you because it provides enjoyment for you. Like Jesus said when you give, it makes you happy and so I have thoroughly enjoyed my years helping young people.”
Charles Clement Bosfield, a former Chief Customs and Revenue Officer with Bahamas Customs shared, “This feels great, it is nice to know that after all of these years of toiling, you come to a period and public service and the government takes time out to show their appreciation for the service that you have given.
“I have been in the public service for 46 years … this is all that I know, this was my life, being a customs officer. It has been very rewarding, I had a lot of opportunities to travel around The Bahamas and I would not trade it for anything in the world.
“The key to public service is that we have to reform ourselves. We have to look at ourselves as being just as important as any other profession. We downplay our jobs a lot of times, but you have to love what you do. You have to get up, go to work every day and love it, taking God with you into the workplace and you will be safe.”
His advice to others, “Fall in love with your job and gravitate towards it and be the best that you can be at it.
“I am happy that I had the opportunity for 46 years to serve The Bahamas and the public. I have always considered myself a public servant, a servant of the public. I had the opportunity to serve the public, to work with a lot of staff, helping a lot of young staff, motivating them and I am happy that I left something with them. I am happy to know that I left what I know with them. I am happy that each day, when I meet members of the public to know that they are satisfied and that they are happy with my performance, they had good times working with me, serving in my capacity, wherever it was.
“My career was very rewarding, retirement is very nice. I am trying to handle it the best way I can; I continue to put God first.
He concluded by stating, “Whatever you do, love it and one day you will be so joyful and happy to know that you did the best, when you have reached the stage of retirement.”
Antoinette Gibson, a public servant for 45 years in the Department of Immigration noted, “It is a wonderful feeling to see that you are now reaping your rewards. Many persons have not lived to see their retirement; many persons have passed on before, some have retired but have died shortly thereafter.
“It is a wonderful feeling to be recognized. It is now time for me to move on to a new chapter in my life. To see what they have done for us here, it is really a thrilling feeling to see that they are rewarding us in such a way, for what we have done, for years of service to the department and for the government,” said Gibson.
Shirley Turner-Butler, an educator for 41 years, served as a teacher at Hawksbill High, Eight Mile Rock High School and as the principal of PACE for 10 years.
“I am very grateful for the honour and to be a part of this esteemed group. Daily, as I go through Grand Bahama I encounter my former students and usually they are doing quite well and that is enough repayment right there. I am reminded every day of what I gave, to the community and to the educational system and so I am very happy to be here and very blessed to have had the job that I did for so many years,” said Turner-Butler.