THE Saint Lucia Life Saving Association (SLLSA) recently hosted regional members and took the opportunity to honour those who over the years contributed immensely and selflessly to lifesaving in Saint Lucia at an event held at the residence of former businessman for many years, Frederick Devaux and wife Carol Devaux in Coubaril.
Present were former Governor General Dame Pearlette Louisy Patron for Saint Lucia Life Saving Association; President of the Saint Lucia Olympic Committee (SLOC) Inc, Fortuna Belrose, Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth Development and Sports, Liota Charlemange-Mason, IOC Honourary Member and former SLOC President, Richard Peterkin; SLOC General Secretary, Alfred Emmanuel; overseas delegates, President of the Saint Lucia Lifesaving Association, John Bruce and executive members; specially invited guests and members of the media.
Master of Ceremonies Terrol Compton expressed, “SLLSA is honoured to be hosting the Caribbean Life Saving Conference together with the Canadian Life Saving Society. We are delighted to have delegates from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, the Cayman Islands and host country Saint Lucia. Tonight, we will be honouring and awarding recipients who have been recognized by the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) of the United Kingdom.”
In his brief remarks, SLLSA’s John Bruce thanked everyone in attendance, especially the Canadians for doing a “wonderful job supporting us for some years now.”
International Development Coordinator of the Lifesaving Society, Patrick D’Almada, said, “With lifesaving and the lifesaving work we have been doing in Saint Lucia, it is not just one person who gets the credit.”
Patrick introduced Perry Smith, the Programme Director for Lifesaving Ontario, Canada; Jamaican representative Stuart Frazier; President of Trinidad and Tobago Life Saving Association Anne Singh and Craig Adderson representing the Cayman Islands.
Vanessa Eugene and Ezra Small came in for special mention while Carol Devaux and John Bruce were specially thanked for hosting them and for always being there for lifesaving in Saint Lucia.
D’Almada said, “In the last few years we have developed great capacity on the island and I believe we are at the point now where we have to start looking at how we move to the next step. We have some limitations in our trainers and so the opportunity to fund a full-time trainer in life guarding and lifesaving would be an essential step for us to take. It is important that every child learns to swim. We believe it is a life skill and every child should know how to swim. So I give that to you tonight as your challenge as you move forward; that we will be able to give that next generation the opportunity to be safe in an around water.”
Carol Devaux gave a brief description of the awards being presented. “The Royal Life Saving Society is the main lifesaving organisation in the world and has been in existence for the last 125 years. Prince Michael of Kent, who is the Patron or President of the Commonwealth section, wanted to give out 125 certificates throughout the Commonwealth to recognize this event”.
She said, “Saint Lucia submitted several names and we were fortunate; we got four names out of 125. Three of those individuals are being presented tonight. The fourth was myself and I received it in London together with Patrick who got it from Canada and Doug Trentowsky who also got his from Canada.”
Devaux explained that Trentowsky came here and assisted Saint Lucia in setting up its organisation. He took members to lifesaving awards, up to lifeguard level, and trained trainers and examiners for lifesaving. She advised that D’Almada then took over, and went into the life guarding aspect.
She pointed out that Trentowsky and D’Almada have been here assisting the SLLSA on numerous occasions free of charge.
The HRH Prince Michael of Kent 125th Anniversary Certificates of Merit were presented by Dame Pearlette Louisy, after the MC had acknowledged the accomplishments of the individuals within the SLLSA.
Reading the citation for the recipients, Carol Devaux began with Urban Augustin: From the moment Augustin started participating in the bronze courses, he became dedicated to Lifesaving and became a staunch member of the association in its development. He was one of the first qualified national lifeguards in Saint Lucia.
Urban proceeded to encourage and work with the training of hotel water sports departments personnel, knowing that most of these hotels were on public beaches and those qualified would then be present for both the tourists and locals using the beaches. This was because government does not employ lifeguards. He trained the Saint Lucian team that in 2003 won the Regional Championship on home soil. He also trained and was a member of Saint Lucia’s first team to participate in the World Lifesaving Championships held in 2004 in Italy. Urban attended the 2006 World Championships in Australia and won medals in the senior division.
Urban lives in Gros Islet where he continues to host a summer camp for under-privileged children, teaching swimming and lifesaving. He has been a recipient of the Certificate of Thanks from the RLSS Commonwealth.
Jaqueline Atkinson: Atkinson was the founding member of the SLLSA in 1994 and held the position of Secretary from the start until 2011. She formed the Sea Jays Swim Club with Carol Devaux and taught swimming and lifesaving on a voluntary basis for 20 years.
She was one of the Association’s first lifesaving instructors. In 2003 she was in charge of organizing the International Lifesaving Federation Conference held in Saint Lucia. She was heavily involved in the Association’s development and would assist in any position that was requested, dedicating many years to further lifesaving in Saint Lucia. Atkinson received the Certificate of Thanks on two occasions from the RLSS Commonwealth and the Citation of Merit from the International Lifesaving Federation.
Jeremiah Louis Fernand: Fernand was one of the founding members of the Saint Lucia Lifesaving Association and was a very active executive member. He was among the first lifesaving instructors and started his own club, The Legends, teaching both swimming and lifesaving. He assisted without hesitating. When the Association received an instructor from Canada for a year in 2002, Ferdinand immediately gave her a desk at his office and all her expenses were met by his company. He became a well-known name for his involvement in lifesaving and travelled to remote villages to give talks and demonstrations on water safety. This businessman also taught lifesaving to members of the St Lucia Fire Service and was always ready to teach whenever and wherever he was needed.
Leslie Clarke and Dagmar Peterkin each received a Certificate of Thanks.
Leslie Clarke was among the founding members of the Saint Lucia Amateur Swimming Association. He trained as a swim instructor. Clarke was among the founding members of the SLLSA and was Vice President for several years. Whatever was required he did it, whether it was fundraising or assisting at events. Clarke was one of the backbones of the SLLSA and, with his tireless support and work; he ensured the Association moved forward.
Dagmar Peterkin was on board with the SLLSA from day one and immediately volunteered as Treasurer for several years (too many to count). The Association never had many dollars but she made sure it was never in debt, which left members feeling confident as she always knew what was available.
She also assisted in whatever capacity she was needed, including organizing and conducting National SLLSA Championships plus fundraising events. Peterkin was among the first group of lifesaving instructors to be trained and qualified by the Canadian Lifesaving Society.
The final award was presented to St Rose Jacobie, nominated for the Mountbatten Award for bravery. According to SLLSA’s John Bruce, “Jacobie saved two people who fell off the Pearl during a boat ride party on the afternoon of July 13th 2018. Jacobie, who was also on board, dove into the water and reached the gentleman first and was able to pull him to the surface of the water by his dread locks.”
Bruce said, “He then swam to the lady while holding on to the guy with his right hand and attempted to pull the lady above the water with his left hand. Using his lifesaving skills, this veteran scuba dive instructor, who works at Sandals, stabilized the two individuals until the vessel turned around and returned.”