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Honours for the special folk

Mike King

Honours for the special folk

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SIR BRANFORD TAITT was emotional. “Ebe” Gilkes was overwhelmed. Keith Griffith said he was blessed and Willie Alleyne called it a “sentimental occasion”.
 The Independence Honours class of 2010 has long been recognised but yesterday gained  another dimension.
It was presentation day in the tranquil surroundings of Government House, and the cast with Sir Branford in the lead received their national honours insignia before an audience that included Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, Acting Chief Justice Sherman Moore and members of the Cabinet and Senate.
 However, this was about families first, and Sir Branford said it meant everything to have his wife Lady Taitt, daughters Monique and Sharon, and son Branford Jr on hand for one of the most treasured moments of his life.
  This country’s newest knight, a former Cabinet minister, Member of Parliament and scholar, was especially delighted that his nine-year-old grandson Marley, who was born in the United States, was in the front row.
“It means so much to me to have family here, especially little Marley. He is now fully Barbadianized after an occasion like this.
“I am also very thankful to my wife for her support. In almost everything I have done, she has been there for me,” said 72-year-old Sir Brandford, who wept after he embraced his children.
Sir Brandford, who is currently President of the Senate, said he would remain humble.
 “My friends and constituents over the years can still call me Branford or Mr Taitt. Nothing has changed. I am a man of the people,” he said.
Gilkes, 80, who received a Barbados Service Star for his sterling contribution to the development of the local entertainment industry, in particular jazz music, told the DAILY?NATION he was happy to be recognized while he was still alive.
“Frankly, the whole thing is overwhelming to me. I didn’t expect it. I feel honoured. It is wonderful to get recognition while you are alive,” said Gilkes, a professional jazz pianist for 52 years.
 Shaven-skull Griffith, the only sportsman to be honoured, flashed a big smile when orator  Professor Henry Fraser read the citation on his football and road tennis exploits.
“I feel humble, blessed and privileged. I accept it with dignity and pride. It is for the fans and my family. I have done some hard work for my country, and I still want to do a little bit more,” said 66-year-old Griffith.
Alleyne, one of the brightest shining lights in the photography field for five decades, was typically ice-cool on receiving his insignia.
“It’s such a sentimental occasion for me. I thank God for this opportunity.
“I like photography. It just happens naturally that if you like what you do, you do it well,” said Alleyne, who looks much younger than 78.
A product of Dayrells Road, Alleyne has been contracted by the Government Information Service as the official still photographer for special local events and for regional and international conferences held here.