On October 16, 2023, a day dedicated to honoring heroism and selfless service, 205 extraordinary Jamaicans, including eight devoted Seventh-day Adventists from the East Jamaica Conference (EJC) and Northern Caribbean University (NCU), were recognized for exemplary service and gallantry during the National Honors and Awards Presentation and Investiture Ceremony at King’s House, St. Andrew.
Leaders from both the EJC and NCU, along with church and family supporters, gathered to witness as Governor-General Sir Patrick Allen bestowed awards in various categories, including medicine, education, and gallantry.
Dr. Edwin Tulloch-Reid, a member of the Andrews Memorial Adventist Church, received an Order of Distinction in the rank of Commander (CD) for service in the field of medicine, specializing in cardiovascular disease. Dr. Tulloch-Reid, a renowned cardiologist, views health as a state of complete physical, mental, social, and spiritual well-being and is a strong advocate for promoting a healthy lifestyle.
Elder Keith Nugent, a devoted first elder at the Andrews Memorial Adventist Church, stood out as a true hero, receiving a Badge of Honour for Gallantry [BH(G)] for his exceptional act of bravery in 2022.
On April 8, 2022, in a moment of crisis, Elder Nugent joined another, Ruel Grant, risking his life to save four ladies from a burning motor vehicle that exploded minutes later.
Both men, who were strangers at the time and traveling separately, came upon the overturned vehicle that had trapped five ladies inside. The experience and images have lingered with Nugent as he recalled working tirelessly, returning time after time, determined to pull each lady from the burning vehicle. Regrettably, despite their valiant efforts, one remained trapped and lost her life. His faith-inspired courage and selflessness were celebrated on Heroes Day as both men stepped up to be awarded on the red carpet.
“For me, the act of helping someone is very much intertwined with my Christian beliefs, and in those moments where you have to make a split-second decision about helping or not helping, it comes down to who you are,” shared Nugent who was traveling with his wife and a relative to a funeral at the time of the accident. “To a large extent, that is determined by your belief system and your personality; the rational side of the mind versus the emotional side struggles to make that ultimate decision.”
Nugent is encouraged and humbled by the recognition.
“While we do not do good to be recognized, it certainly does buoy one’s spirit up to have the government and your peers recognizing your actions,” concluded Nugent.
Education & Community Service
Three of the eight Adventists awarded received a Badge of Honour for Meritorious Service [BH(M)].
Clad smartly in her Pathfinder regalia, Beulett Carol Hunter, JP, stepped forward to receive a [BH(M)] for education to uniformed youth groups in schools and communities. For more than four decades, Hunter, from the Pembroke Hall Adventist Church, worked in youth development and education, serving the youth of the EJC and the Jamaica Union in various roles and representing the ministry locally and internationally.
Though she has taught and lectured in at least six schools and has been a senior education officer in Tertiary Supervision at the Ministry of Education, Hunter’s heart lies in church ministry.
“When you think of the work of youth ministries, it pales in comparison to education. Being in youth ministries, and being an advocate for Pathfindering in schools and communities, I feel very honored. It’s just soaking in; I had to wear the uniform. Salvation and service is the philosophy of youth ministries and the philosophy of my life,” shared Hunter after the ceremony.
Claudette Genas, JP, who serves as Women’s Ministries and Children’s Ministries director for the EJC and is a member of the North Street Adventist Church, was also honored for commendable community service through the EJC. Having received a Badge of Honour for Meritorious Service, she is motivated and determined to do more.
Genas said, “Never mind what others do; do better than yourself. ‘Others Lord, yes others. Let this my motto be’ has resonated in my being for decades, so I work as a secret service Christian to beat my own record from day to day, to give to mission. What is most amazing is that I feel the push from a band of people praying me up and saying … ‘Go on; continue to make a difference.’”
Genas also served in the area of education as principal of Kingsway High and Preparatory School until 2010, when she accepted the call to serve the constituency at the EJC.
“There is this abiding thought in my mind that ‘He who lives for himself, the Lord cannot bless, but He who lives for others will achieve great success.’ I feel humbled by the fact that I obeyed the voice of the Lord that urged and inspired me to initiate a few ministries,” Genas expressed. Over the span of 11 years, she initiated various notable ministries, including GEMS – Girls of Eloquence, Morals, and Standards; BEAMS – Boys of Excellence Attaining Morals and Standards; and Committed Wives & Husbands.
“I see this award as a reminder that I am too close to payday to give up; so I should take my ticket and move on … I must continue to do the works of Him who hath sent me while it is day, for the night cometh when I will not be able to work,” Genas concluded.
Pastor Meric Walker, president of the EJC, and Pastors Dane Fletcher and Joel Jumpp, Youth Ministries directors for the Jamaica Union and EJC, respectively, attended to show their support for both ladies.
Recognition in the field of education and academia continued with Professor Marilyn Anderson, Winnie Berry, Elder Collin Lyons, and Dr. Paulette Lisanne Stewart.
Professor Anderson, supported by Dr. Lincoln Edwards, president of Northern Caribbean University, and Dr. Vincent Peterkin, acting dean of the College of Humanities, Behavioral & Social Sciences, received an Order of Distinction in the rank of Officer (OD). Professor Anderson has served NCU in various capacities, including interim president and educator. As a passionate musician, she has been instrumental in aiding students to master their musical talents.
Dr. Stewart, a devoted and renowned elder at the Kencot Adventist Church, was recognized for long and faithful service with a Badge of Honor [BH(L)] for over forty-five years of service to academia, particularly in library and information studies.
Members of the New Haven Adventist Church, Berry and Lyons also received recognition for education.
Berry, a Justice of the Peace, received a Badge of Honor for Meritorious Service [BH(M)] in the field of education.
Lyons received a [BH(L)] for forty-five years of service to education and community service. Lyons, who served as an educator at various institutions, including the Caribbean Maritime Institute/University and the University of Trinidad and Tobago, says his profession is a fulfilling one. “The experience has been rewarding and fulfilling when you see persons you have taught excel and do well around the world.”
Lyons added, “Receiving this award is exciting and humbling at the same time when one thinks that as you perform over the years, there are persons who are watching. It is humbling to know that while you are working, you are just trying to do the best you can do with no consideration of this kind of reward … but here comes an award that you were not looking for.”
Lyons hopes to identify and do some voluntary work and continue serving as best as he can, particularly in the area of safety and disaster preparedness and prevention.