The territory’s first Chief Minister, Hamilton Lavity Stoutt was lauded as a visionary pioneer of the British Virgin Islands at his 25th Annual Memorial Celebration ceremony.
Residents came out to commemorate the life and achievements of Stoutt, who is widely described as a local hero.
Some first attended the Wreath-laying Ceremony at Stoutt’s burial site in Capoon’s Bay, then proceeded to the memorial ceremony which was held at the Eileene L Parsons Auditorium at the H Lavity Stoutt Community College (HLSCC) in Paraquita Bay on Monday, March 2.
Giving remarks at the event, Minister of Culture Dr Natalio Wheatley said the late Stoutt was a man who possessed many qualities.
“I would assert that the greatest quality exhibited by H.L. Stoutt was his vision, and hence his favourite bible quote; ‘Where there is no vision the people perish’.”
“H.L. Stoutt had a vision for what the Virgin Islands could be, he had a vision for the economy, a vision for the education system, a vision for the infrastructure, and he put the components in place to execute that vision. And we are seeing the benefits from that vision today,” Dr Wheatley added.
Dr Wheatley further highlighted the leadership ability of Stoutt, who was able to lead his way to a number of groundbreaking projects in the territory.
“It is absolutely necessary to exhibit strong leadership qualities, such as being responsive to the needs of our people, being people-focused and people-centred, knowing when to hold back and knowing when to press forward, making alliances to advance the people’s interest … These are just a few of the qualities that allowed H.L. Stoutt to be the longest-serving Chief Minister with the most consecutive terms as leader,” Dr Wheatley explained.
Greatness only recognised when you’re gone
In acknowledging the many achievements of the former Chief Minister, Premier Andrew Fahie said he always viewed Stoutt as the modern-day biblical prophet, Moses.
“In 2015, I had already proclaimed him as the modern-day Moses, and at that time some people frowned because most people don’t see greatness while it is happening. The truth be told that most people didn’t like Lavity Stoutt while he was moving to do the great things,” Premier Fahie stated.
“The truth be told that most persons thought that he was so crazy for wanting to build a college, the truth be told that when he spoke about getting the road done they said it was total craziness … but greatness is not seen while it is happening, it’s seen after, and usually, it’s seen when you’re dead,” Premier Fahie further stated.
History and Achievements
The late Stoutt became the territory’s first Chief Minister in 1967, after serving as a member of the 1957, 1960 and 1963 legislatures.
Among the many major projects which he pioneered are the airport developments (notably Anegada in 1969); the Social Security System in 1980; Jost Van Dyke Fire Station in 1990; Deep-Water Harbour Development and Cruise Ship Pier in 1993; and the Central Administration Complex in 1994.
He also played a major role in the development of the territory’s electricity, roads and other infrastructural works.
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