Bahamas Customs and Excise Departmentâ s Long Service and Merit Awards Ceremony was held for the first time outside New Providence at Le Chateau on the Green, Freeport Tuesday evening to honor employees in the Northern Bahamas.
Family, friends and colleagues gathered at the momentous occasion to celebrate 22 honorees on reaching another milestone in their respective careers.
Simon Wilson, Acting Financial Secretary spoke on behalf of Minister of State for Finance, Michael Halkitis, stating the importance of the eveningâ s exercise is honoring exemplary officers, who have all served their country with integrity.
Wilson thanked the officers being honored for the dedicated and model service they have given over the years. â Over the last two years under Controller of Customs, Charles Turnerâ s leadership, officers have been exposed to technology, innovations and community relationships in a transformed manner that every Officer has embraced. We are heading the way in the Caribbean and receiving great accolades throughout the Caribbean,â Wilson acknowledged.
Charles Turner, Controller of Customs gave the opening remarks and stated that it is extra fitting that Grand Bahama was chosen to be the venue to honor these officers who have served 20, 30 and 40 years since the 26th of January is World Customs Day.
â The numbers achieving awards for long service is a testament to their loyalty to the country; the salary may not be comparable to other institutions but it is an honorable profession,â Turner acknowledged.
The Controller of Customs confirmed that these officers are working in a modernised system, adding that this yearâ s theme is â Digital Customs.â
â All of the countryâ s imports are supported digitally these days and we are fully online with our counterparts,â Turner concluded.
Rudolph Stubbs, Customs Revenue Officer One has proudly served his country for 30 years and stated it has indeed been a wonderful experience he would not have changed. â I always wanted to serve my country and what better way than in one of the most important occupations the country has,â Stubbs acknowledged.
The local customsâ officer says he has been lucky enough to work from West End to Walkersâ Cay, and admitted to a great love for Grand Bahama after being a little disappointed, 30 years ago when he was originally sent to the Island.
â It is a wonderful feeling to be showcased in front of my family and colleagues here on Grand Bahama rather than in the capital. I will work for another 20 years if I am able,â Stubbs furthered.
The local officer encourages students with an interest in joining the Customs Department to concentrate on their Mathematics classes and be sure they are computer literate, as technology is the key.
Sophie Smith, Customs Revenue Officer Grade Two also shared how the Customs Department has been great to her. â It is a challenging profession you need patience, to be headstrong, disciplined, and prepared to think of oneâ s country. Once you have integrity and put God first you will be a wonderful and respected officer,â Smith added.
Oswald Gardiner, a 40 year veteran from Abaco and Chief Customs Officer on that Island also said, Bahamas Customs is a great place to work. â Once you are steadfast, diligent and prepared to embrace new initiatives, it is a wonderful job. Customs has afforded me quite a bit I have met influential people, been introduced to many new initiatives and able to work with up front technology,â Gardiner said.
Sherick Martin, Assistant Controller of Customs confirmed the day was a â Red Letterâ day and gave his wishes for the Awards Presentations to continue to be staged outside of the Capital.
After being presented with the Long Service Awards and Certificates of Merit by Wilson and Turner, the honorees took an official photograph and enjoyed a reception.
The honorees from Grand Bahama were: For 40 years of service, Terrance Deaney; for 30 years of service, Brenda Ferguson, Clarence Johnson, Rudolph Stubbs; for 20 years of service, Hugh Pratt, Lalania Darville, Georgia Lightbourne, Leisa Smith, Deandrea Gardiner, Jerry Lowe, Lakeatha McDonald, David Adderley, Elsa Neely, Carnell Claude, Samantha Knowles, Sophie Smith, Julie McIntosh and Samuel Rolle.
Honorees from Abaco were: For 40 years of service, Oswald Gardiner, for 20 years of service, Bridgette Russell and Donovan Johnson.
Honoree from Bimini: For 20 years of service, Edward Hanna.
World Customs Organization Honorees: Rochelle Ferguson and Shavago Dames.