To all within the sound of my voice - whether on television, on radio or on the world wide web - a very merry Christmas! Indeed today is the most wonderful day of the year. We give thanks to God for the ultimate gift of his Son Jesus. As we celebrate Christmas today, and over the coming days let us remember that Jesus is the Reason for the Season.
Christmas is a time of joy, reflection and sharing with our loved ones – whether family or friends. It is a time when treasured memories are made and precious family traditions are revered
I am delighted that there is a revival of caroling and serenading throughout the Territory this year. I believe this kicked off in early December with the Old Timer's concert where choirs and artists from throughout the Territory performed. God's willing; I am looking forward to more Christmas seasons filled with bands of carolers, spreading holiday cheer to each home as they used to years ago in keeping with our culture.
My heartfelt thanks to all of you who joined me at our second annual Christmas around the World festivities, last Saturday. It was truly a celebration of different cultures in the BVI. I enjoyed every moment - the food displays, the various national dresses, the musical selections and the sheer creativity of it all. I was reminded yet again, that although we hail from diverse cultures, and countries, we are united in our passion for the BVI. Indeed it is this special bond that helps to make the BVI an extraordinary place to live, work and do business!
In this same spirit of unity let us remember those among us who may not have extended families or special friends with whom to share the Christmas season. Let us open our hearts and embrace them. Let us brighten the corners where we are, and lend a helping hand to those in need.
As we reflect on this Christmas tide, we are reminded of the fragility of life and of those we should keep in our prayers such as our elderly and those who are sick.
We remember those who have lost loved ones. This year we said goodbye to so many, including one of our vibrant centenarians, William ‘Kenny’ Industrious, legal juggernaut Dr. Joseph S. Archibald, QC, education stalwart Theodore Skeete, as well as business pioneers Grethel Stoutt-Richardson and Inez Penn. I pray that God would bring comfort to their families and friends who will miss them most in the midst of their Christmas celebrations.
On this day of joy and peace, much as we hate to introduce an unhappy subject we must reflect also on those who lost their lives through gun violence. Less than two weeks ago a young man was gunned down just after dusk in the middle of Road Town. My deepest sympathy goes out to the parents of this young man as your Christmas must be filled with sadness. May Jesus who brought his love to all mankind so many years ago comfort you in this time of your bereavement. I commend the RVIPF and indeed this whole community for their efforts in finding the perpetrator of this heinous crime.
I take this opportunity to reiterate that there will be zero tolerance for gun violence in this community. My Government will therefore amend the Firearms and Air Guns Ordinance in the first quarter of 2015 to introduce mandatory penalties and gun control.
In this time of thanksgiving, let us together thank God for protecting the BVI for yet another year from the devastation of hurricanes. And, let us remember in prayer those who were less fortunate near and far.
We are truly grateful for the turn-around in our economy this year, and that the holiday season finds more of our people working and able to provide for their families. We must continue to be vigilant in maintaining the buoyance of our economy.
As we so do, we must give God thanks for his mercies; we must resolve to work even harder and smarter to make sure that our economy continues to prosper. Each of us can play our part: whether it is being friendly and helpful to our visitors, or working together to keep our islands clean and beautiful for all to enjoy. We can lead by example in our communities and offices. We can be positive role models for our coworkers, peers and those around us.
In preparing to bid farewell to 2014 and welcome 2015, let us look ahead with enthusiasm and anticipation, to a bright new year filled with great expectations!
Let us move forward in unison to continue to strengthen our economy and secure the future of our Virgin Islands. Let us be creative and propel our Territory to new heights locally, regionally and internationally. May we resolve to treat each other with courtesy, mutual understanding and respect. May we resolve to conduct all of our affairs as law-abiding citizens, for only then can we stand proudly as a great BVI.
In closing, I wish to thank those in our essential services who work tirelessly and around the clock to keep us safe and healthy. These are our fire and rescue services, our police force, those in healthcare, and our waste management team. We appreciate you and pray that God will continue to bless and strengthen you.
I take this opportunity to publicly thank all my colleagues, all members of the House of Assembly, public officers and public authorities, government commissions and other agencies for your support throughout the year and I look forward to working with you in the New Year as we continue to strengthen all sectors of this economy.
May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, throughout the Christmas season and into the New Year.
On behalf of the Government of the Virgin Islands and my wife Lorna, I wish each of you a festive and safe holiday season and a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!