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Winsome Vanhorne Christie with her Badge of Honour for Meritorious Service, for loyal and outstanding service to the Public Sector, on Heroes Day, October 17, at King’s House.
Photo: Yhomo Hutchinson

Growing up, Winsome Vanhorne Christie, had the desire to become a teacher, so much so that the trees, benches and veranda rails at her home in Hanover were frequently transformed into very attentive students.

Like many children who seldom stick to one ambition, she also explored the idea of being a nurse.

“I liked the way they dressed, their caps, aprons and their nice white dresses,” Mrs. Vanhorne Christie tells JIS News.

Perhaps it was fate, but after she moved to Kingston in her teens and sought to pursue a career after high school, she grasped a dream opportunity with the Jamaica Information Service (JIS).

For her 42 years of loyal and outstanding service to the Public Sector, Mrs. Vanhorne Christie was given the Badge of Honour for Meritorious Service, at the National Honours and Awards Ceremony, held at King’s House on October 17.

Mrs. Vanhorne Christie is currently a Communication Specialist at the Ministry of National Security.

“It was my aunt who recommended that I join the JIS. She was working at the JIS at the time, and she told me to submit an application. I had tried getting into teachers’ college and was told I was too young, so I started attending a secretarial college where I was being trained in typing and shorthand. When I got the job at the JIS, I was placed in the television department as a clerical officer and those typing skills came in handy,” Mrs. Vanhorne Christie says.

“As a clerical officer, I was typing those television scripts. I would finish them in record time. Even to decipher difficult handwriting of producers, it was something I enjoyed. I moved from being a clerical officer to a production assistant,” she notes.

The move from clerical officer to production assistant meant she became more steeped in the television production process, a role that helped to shape her professional career.

“I wanted to see what happens in television, and so I volunteered until I became a production assistant, then I started moving on from there. The producers all said they wanted to work with me. I’m really very happy about how I started my working life, because at JIS television, everybody worked then like a family; we were all one team. If you wrote a script, you would hand it to one of your peers to read before you submitted it to the Editor,” Mrs. Vanhorne Christie recalls.

Her next move was from being a production assistant to being a producer. “People asked me today, why I stayed so long at JIS, but then I loved the job; it didn’t feel like work, because as a production assistant we used to film many things after work and the work was also on weekend, and I would be the one volunteering to work every weekend,” she says.

“I’d be the one volunteering to work on all of those dramatic productions, so you leave the studio at 2:00 or 2:30 in the morning and I’m back at my desk at 8:30 in the morning; so, for me it wasn’t work. It was a lot of fun, and I guess that’s why I stayed there so long,” Mrs. Vanhorne Christie adds.

Winsome Vanhorne Christie at the Ministry of National Security, where she now serves as a Communication Specialist.

 

She says being at the JIS was not just about work, as several opportunities for growth were presented to her.

“I was nominated for training courses overseas. I went to Venezuela to do a course in television production. That course was in Spanish. There was another course that I attended in Israel, where we learned about branding and public relations. And that was fascinating, because not only did we have that training course but we were taken to a number of cities in Israel, places like the Garden of Gethsemane, the Dead Sea… . It was an excellent experience,” Mrs. Vanhorne Christie recalls.

As she grew at the JIS, so did her responsibilities and soon she became the Head of the Television Department.

“I climbed through the ranks. Not only did I become the Head of television, there were times when I was also overseeing the production departments, such as radio, Public Relations, the overseas department and also the printing area. I also served as the Manager for JIS Regional Services,” Mrs. Vanhorne Christie says.

Determined to gain higher education, she began attending the University of the West Indies while working at the JIS.

“A lot of work and study happened. I wasn’t one of those privileged ones to go to university and then come to work. All my life I have worked and studied,” she notes.

Mrs. Vanhorne Christie says those periods were particularly difficult, but she was determined to complete her studies.

“I was selected (by the JIS) to go to The Netherlands for a course, but at the same time I got accepted to go to the UWI and I was confused, so I asked friends and colleagues what to do. I ended up making my own decision… . I can always go to The Netherlands, but I don’t know if I will get another opportunity to go to the UWI,” she says, adding that she does not regret the decision.

Having been in the field of communication for so many years, Mrs. Vanhorne Christie says what continues to give her satisfaction is seeing that her work can help to change the lives of people.

“The most rewarding thing about my current job is that I can impart my knowledge to a group of young people. It’s one of the most fulfilling jobs I’ve had, because these people are young, just coming out of school, and when you can sit back and watch them plan an event on their own, it makes me feel good,” Mrs. Vanhorne Christie says.

Her experience in communication has enabled her to work at the British High Commission, the Ministries of Land, Water, Environment and Climate Change; Housing and Local Government.

Mrs. Vanhorne Christie says she is able to stay grounded because of the strong foundation she developed working in production at JIS TV.

“I grew up in an environment where people were committed. I say, every day, that I’m glad for where I started, because you’re always meeting deadlines and I think this motivates me. I am always meeting deadlines to make a programme. I figured that whatever I do, I should do it to the best of my ability, and I hope that is what I’ve been doing all these many years,” she adds.

Mrs. Vanhorne Christie credits former JIS TV Producer/Director, Tony Robinson and TV Manager, Peter Ashley, for guiding her along the way.

“Much of my growth in JIS television production, I want to say thanks to these men,” she says.

Asked how she feels about receiving a national award for her years of service, Mrs. Vanhorne Christie says she accepts the award with humility.

“National Honours is something that I have worked on for years as part of the JIS production team. I’ve never seen myself as one of those ever to be nominated. It feels good; it’s something that I never thought about for myself, but it feels good to know that your sweat, stress, tears, hard work, are being rewarded. So, it’s something that I accept with a lot of humility,” she says.

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