Remarks By His Excellency The Governor Mr John S. Duncan, Obe On The
Occasion Of The Investiture Of Mrs Ann Louise Gardner As A Member Of The Most Excellent Member
Of The Order Of The British Empire
Government House, 4 June 2015
We are here today to honour Mrs. Ann Gardner, known to all of us as Annie and invest her as a Member of the Order of the British Empire.
The Order of the British Empire recognises distinguished service to the arts and sciences, public service and work with charitable and welfare organisations of all kinds. It was created nearly 100 years ago by His Majesty King George V who wanted a formal recognition for the large numbers of people in the British Isles and other parts of the Empire who were serving, either as combatants, or as civilians during the First World War.
If the British Empire is no more, the sun has not set on the Realm of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second and to this day the Order of the British Empire remains the principal order of chivalry of our modern democracy.
The honours system recognises those individuals who have made achievements in public life; committed themselves to serving and helping their community, or been outstanding at what they do and as such stand out as an example to other people.
Over the past forty years Mrs Annie Gardner has touched the lives of innumerable young people in the Virgin Islands and those in need of support within the community. The full citation is contained in the pamphlet with the Order of Service. It makes clear the extent of Annie’s wide ranging contribution, from teaching swimming and lifesaving skills extending, although it may surprise some of you to learn this, to teaching survival techniques to various US Army Special Forces and Marine Reconnaissance units in the 1960s, to organising annual summer camps for at least 100 children per year at Cane Garden Bay.
Annie was also as you all know the Director, instructor and teacher for the Kids and the Sea (KATS) swim programme. She has also been a major fundraiser for Fort Charlotte School for the mentally and physically challenged children of the BVI. Many of you will also remember the bumper sticker, with the slogan “Hands across the Ocean” which Annie started with the BVI Red Cross and which raised US$ 44,000 for victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.
Annie‘s work is a fitting tribute to her personal family tradition, following in the footsteps of her father who served with distinction in World War Two with the American Red Cross helping the many thousands who suffered at the hands of totalitarian regimes in Western Europe from refugees to concentration camp prisoners.
Annie’s unfailing energy and enthusiasm coupled with her infectious sense of humour is well known to many of you. Many Governors have been on the receiving end and I was very pleased to continue this tradition at last year’s Christmas party for those with special needs.
Annie’s compassion for others, her instinctive sense of what needs to be done and her willingness to give of herself to achieve a better world, serve to mark her out as someone who represents the very best of this community. Her contribution over 40 years has been enormous and she is a real credit to the British Virgin Islands.
In today’s gathering of her friends and family and in the presence of other distinguished members of the Order from across the Virgin Islands, it is my great pleasure and privilege to bestow on Annie Gardner membership of the Order of the British Empire.