Minister of Education and Culture Myron Walwyn has noted that leadership goes far beyond just being considered the one in charge, adding that leaders must sometimes make tough decisions despite resistance from people who see things differently.
As such, he urged persons who aspire to become leaders of the British Virgin Islands to emulate the qualities portrayed by the territory’s first chief minister, Hamilton Lavity Stoutt, who passed away in 1995.
“Very often, leaders are required to make difficult decisions in hard times. Making decisions that can positively impact the lives of constituents is by no means as easy at it might appear to some. Change is often met with resistance from persons who do not necessarily see things from your perspective. But we must remember that change is a constant, and there will be times when difficult decisions must be made,” Walwyn said.
He continued: “Many of us who aspire to become leaders in whatever capacity we have been called to serve, can certainly learn many lessons through the life and legacy of Hamilton Lavity Stoutt. Leadership goes far beyond just being considered the one in charge and being someone who think that they are entitled to lead. Being an influential leader, and being a good leader often requires making difficult decisions in hard times, unwavering service above self, and a commitment to the Territory that must remain present very often through times of uncertainty.”
Walwyn made the comments at the Cappoon’s Bay Burial Grounds this morning (March 6) during the 17th annual commemorative ceremony in honour of the late Mr Stoutt.
The minister’s FULL SPEECH is published below:
It is always a pleasure for me to speak at the Remembrance Day celebration for one of the greatest leaders in the history of the Territory of the Virgin Islands, the late Honourable Hamilton Lavity Stoutt.
Hon Stoutt’s vision, dedication and commitment to this Territory transcends the time that he was here with us, and has proven time and time again that he was the right leader at the right time for the Virgin Islands.
I believe Hon Stoutt had more faith in the people of the Virgin Islands and our future than most of his day.
And, with help and guidance from our Lord, he set about planting the seeds of the Virgin Islands we see today.
When I consider his life and contributions, I am reminded of a remark made by Dr Martin Luther King Jr in an address to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1967.
Dr King said, ”…the road ahead will not always be smooth. There will be still rocky places of frustration and meandering points of bewilderment. There will be inevitable setbacks here and there. There will be those moments when the buoyancy of hope will be transformed into the fatigue of despair.”
“Our dreams will sometimes be shattered, and our ethereal hopes blasted… Difficult and painful as it is, we must walk on in the days ahead with an audacious faith in the future.”
Hon Stoutt understood that, to get to that future, as Virgin Islanders we needed to prepare ourselves to manage a greater responsibility.
That is why he took education so seriously. You see, in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, not every child was given the privilege of attending high school or the Virgin Islands Grammar School as it was called then.
Hon Stoutt recognised the importance of each and every child having the opportunity to further their education beyond Post Primary.
He believed not only that the majority of students given the opportunity would succeed, but he envisioned them as the future doctors, nurses, teachers, engineers, administrators and whatever professions the Territory would need.
Hon Stoutt achieved his goal in 1968 when the BVI High School opened its doors for the first time.
This new school, a comprehensive school that combined the Virgin Islands Grammar School and the post primary was available for all students.
From its inception, numerous young men and women were able to attain a high school certificate, which then gave them the foundation upon which to pursue university.
Many of those young men and young women, from that time, turned out to be significant leaders in our country.
Once the BVI High School was developing and thriving, Hon Stoutt set his eyes on the next step to continue the upward movement of the Territory.
He recognised the rapid development of the Territory from the 1960’s and the urgent need for a college to train our people in the various fields that needed to be developed.
Again he recognised the tremendous effort it took for families and the Government to send our young people to Canada, England or to other Caribbean islands to further their education.
Many times persons who were desirous of pursuing tertiary education had familial or career commitments and were unable to leave our shores.
It may have seemed insurmountable to some, but not to Hon Stoutt.
He understood the need for an educated populace for the continued development of the Virgin Islands.
And, on 15th August 1993, the institution appropriately named in his honour the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College officially opened; an institution which continues to offer an excellent education to residents of the Virgin Islands.
Many of us who aspire to become leaders in whatever capacity we have been called to serve, can certainly learn many lessons through the life and legacy of Hamilton Lavity Stoutt.
Leadership goes far beyond just being considered the one in charge, and being someone who think that they are entitled to lead.
Being an influential leader, and being a good leader often requires making difficult decisions in hard times, unwavering service above self, and a commitment to the Territory that must remain present very often through times of uncertainty.
Hon Stoutt was the type of leader who understood the importance of remaining connected to the people he served, and ensuring that they were equally served by his government.
He listened to the people. Regardless of an individual’s age, gender or nationality, once you were apart of the Virgin Islands community, H. L. Stoutt was interested in your well being and in your opinion.
I believe that good leadership does not happen overnight, but it does require consistent efforts to understand where the world is heading, and being able to bring your people along, inspiring them to have faith in themselves and faith in our Territory.
Very often leaders are required to make difficult decisions in hard times.
Making decisions that can positively impact the lives of constituents is by no means as easy at it might appear to some.
Change is often met with resistance from persons who do not necessarily see things from your perspective.
But we must remember that change is a constant, and there will be times when difficult decisions must be made. As leaders, we need to remember the style of our first Chief Minister and, with consideration and open dialogue with our people, we must never be afraid. And like Hon Stoutt did and Dr King said, we must press on with an audacious faith in the future.
Today, almost 22 years after Hon Hamilton Lavity Stoutt departed this earth, the lessons and contributions that he has made to this country should continue to be utilised as a means to create a Virgin Islands that is united in all aspects.
Through the vision and foresight, we are able to enjoy many freedoms of a modern society.
And, if we are expected to make strides in our development as a nation, we must hold on to the principles of love, hard work and commitment to the Territory, as he did and as has been enshrined in our Territorial Pledge.
As we seek to empower the next generation of Virgin Islanders, we must be prepared to do the necessary work and make the tough decisions so that we are able to create a generation that is equally comparable to the brave men and women that came before us, Virgin Islanders such as Hon H. Lavity Stoutt.
History can show that, throughout the development of our islands, we have overcome significant challenges.
Hon Hamilton Lavity Stoutt represents the visionary characteristic of our people who did all that they could to remain self-sufficient.
May the life of Hon Stoutt serve as an inspiration to all of us, and may we strive to work for the creation of a Virgin Islands that benefits the generations to come.
Happy Hamilton Lavity Stoutt Day!
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