His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent has lauded Jamaicans on their many achievements, noting that despite the country’s size, it has done tremendously well on the world stage.
“The quality and the drive you have here, in so many areas…have been really quite exceptional,” he stated.
Prince Michael was speaking on Tuesday, April 16, following a tour of the Sir John Golding Rehabilitation Centre in Mona, which caters to the treatment of persons, including road crash survivors, with varying conditions affecting the skeletal system.
The Prince, an avid road safety advocate, arrived in Jamaica on Monday, April 15, for a five-day visit, as the very special guest of the National Road Safety Council (NRSC), during its 20th anniversary celebrations.
He further cited the country’s outstanding performance at the 2012 London Olympics and its continued excellence in sport, as one of the country’s most noteworthy achievements.
“Jamaica is a small country and the impact it has made, not only in road safety, but in other areas too, has been quite exceptional,” he said.
The Prince was escorted on the tour of the 70-bed facility by a delegation of health and government officials, headed by Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson and Minister of Justice, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding. Senator Golding is the son of the late Professor, Sir John Golding, in whose honour the institution was named.
The delegation toured the wards, physiotherapy department, and prosthetic workshop, as well as viewed a training session of the Jamaica Paralympic team.
In the meantime, the Prince congratulated the NRSC on its achievements over the last two decades, noting that it has done a tremendous job in improving road safety among Jamaicans.
He also praised the staff of the Sir John Golding Centre for the work they have done over the years in caring for the disabled.
The centre provides treatment to patients with spinal cord injuries, due mainly to motor vehicle accidents, as well as stroke victims and children with congenital limb weakness/deformities. Lower limb prostheses are also fabricated at the centre, which enable amputees to walk again.
For his part, Minister Ferguson welcomed the Prince to Jamaica and thanked him for supporting the work of the NRSC.
He noted that the Ministry of Health also supports the work of the Council, recognising that road traffic accidents have become a burden on the health system and significantly affect the productive capacity of individuals and families.
The Minister also acknowledged the work of the FIA Foundation, of which the Prince is a Patron, pointing out that the organisation has undertaken extensive lobbying and given practical support to activities promoting road safety and motor sports research across the globe.
Dr. Ferguson noted that locally, Jamaica, through the NRSC, has been working tirelessly to keep road fatalities below 300.
“This is a feat we accomplished only last year, but recognise that a lot more needs to be done in this area,” he said.
During the brief ceremony, Prince Michael also unveiled a plaque, as well as signed the guest book in commemoration of his visit. He was also entertained by students of the Hope Valley Experimental School and businessman and singer, DiMario McDowell.
The Prince is the Royal Patron for the Commission for Global Road Safety and Patron of the non-profit organisation, Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), both of which have been leading advocates in the fight to reduce road traffic injuries and deaths.
He is also Patron for the Institute of the Motor Industry, as well as founder and patron of the Prince Michael Road Safety Award Scheme. He is President of the Institute of Road Safety Officers and is an Honorary Fellow at the Institute of Highways and Transportation.
On Wednesday, April 17, the Prince will call on Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, followed by Opposition Leader, Andrew Holness.
Later in the evening, he will attend a special 20th anniversary banquet hosted by the NRSC at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel. The banquet will honour former Prime Ministers as well as confer a posthumous award on Sir John Golding, founder of the Council.
He will depart the island on Friday, April 19.
By Athaliah Reynolds-Baker