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Story Highlights

  • The honourees, who were attached to various divisions, were recognized for service ranging from eight to 40 years.
  • Another retired Gardener, Leonard Buchanan, was among four honourees recognized for 39 years of service.
  • Thirteen other retirees, who served between 25 and 36 years, rounded off the honourees recognized for 25 years or more of service

Thirty-two retirees of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries were recently honoured for a combined 878 years of public service.

The honourees, who were attached to various divisions, were recognized for service ranging from eight to 40 years.

Each person received a commemorative plaque and gift during a special ceremony held recently at the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston.

Topping them was Senior Gardener in the Public Gardens Division, Julius Parke, who served for just over 40 years.

Another retired Gardener, Leonard Buchanan, was among four honourees recognized for 39 years of service.

The others included: Artificial Insemination Technician in the Veterinary Services Division, Morris Fenton; Senior Secretary, Human Resource Management and Development Division, Sharon Forbes; and Deputy Food Storage Officer, Food Storage and Prevention of Infestation, Martin Townsend.

Another Senior Gardener, Keith O’Haro, was recognized for 38 years of service, while Research Assistant in the Research and Development Division, Leroy Davis, was awarded for 37 years.

Thirteen other retirees, who served between 25 and 36 years, rounded off the honourees recognized for 25 years or more of service

Ten retirees were awarded for 11 to 24 years of service. Topping them was former Senior Pond Operator in the Fisheries Division, Dennis Smith – 23 years; Office Attendant, Veterinary Services Division, Doreen Francis-Townsend – 22 years; Food Storage Inspector, Food Storage and Prevention of Infestation Division, Edmond Miller – 20 years; and Director, Documentation, Information and Access Division, Claudette Milford-Allen – 19 years.

Six other honourees in that category were recognized for between 14 and 17 years of service.

Amidst the celebrations, however, the honourees, their guests and the Ministry’s current staff paused to observe one minute’s silence in memory of former Artisan in the Facilities and Property Management Division, Joseph Bennett.

Mr. Bennett, the sole honouree serving 10 years or less, passed away one week prior to the ceremony. He served the Ministry for just over eight years.

Permanent Secretary, Donovan Stanberry, praised the retirees’ hard work and dedication during their tenure, noting that “one of the most distinguishing features of this Ministry is the longevity and long tenure of the staff.”

“Working in the public service is, to a large extent, a labour of love. That is demonstrative in the kind of loyalty that we see from our workers…persons who are so welded to their jobs…working dutifully from year to year,” he stated.

Mr. Stanberry said based on the extent to which agriculture has been driving Jamaica’s economic growth, the retirees could all feel proud knowing that they, in their own way, played a part in that engagement.

Director of the Mona Ageing and Wellness Centre at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Professor the Most Hon. Denise Eldemire-Shearer, who was the guest speaker, told the honourees that retirement was a transition from one phase of their lives to another.

“Many persons call it retiring. But it’s really about retreading and rewiring your plans. But you have to think about it, you have to plan for it and, most importantly, please have a conversation with whoever you live with,” she said.

Noting that many persons were living as much 25 years after retirement, Professor Eldemire-Shearer stressed that “it’s very important that you have these conversations whether with spouses, siblings or children, to ensure you are all on the same page in terms of the relationships and engagements you will share and participate in.”

She also urged persons to pay special attention to their health by getting routine check-ups and not limiting this to periods when illnesses and ailments arise.

Professor Eldemire-Shearer also encouraged the honourees not to fear retirement, but to embrace it as an opportunity to engage in other fulfilling and rewarding activities.

Claudette Milford-Allen, who responded on behalf of the retirees, expressed sincere gratitude to the Ministry for its gesture in honouring their service.

“I, too, do think it’s a time for rethinking, looking back at what we have done, giving God thanks for what we have achieved and looking forward to new things. Retirement does not mean opting out of life. It’s actually just moving on to another stage and enjoying that stage as you go along,” Mrs. Milford-Allen said.