I couldn’t help but wonder who was really having the last laugh at Saturday’s Chamber of Commerce Awards. On more than one occasion I have described the evening’s emcee as someone not particularly famous for risk-taking. Richard Peterkin’s public statements, for the most part, have been politically correct—to the point he often comes across as a wimp.
Not on Saturday evening. This time around he proved there were still men in this country with gonads, regardless of how small the number. He was brazen; his jokes set off raucous laughter in some quarters, even as the more conservative squirmed in their seats or rolled their eyes.
Early during the evening Peterkin announced that a particularly lucky winner would receive free tuition at Lambirds academy. Call it political if you like but perhaps the prime minister’s idiosyncratic laughter drowned out all other reactions. Since the government had licensed the school, Peterkin went on, it was only right that the education ministry should assist the scammed Asian students. This time it seemed the joke failed to reach the prime minister!
And then there was Peterkin’s telling reference to “the third most powerful man in the land.” Peterkin made certain the line did not go over any heads when he said the semi-powerhouse could not be present because of an earlier engagement – a make-up dinner with the land’s second most powerful Francis: Mary. Was that Peterkin’s way of saying where he stood on the recent Francis v Francis war of words? As if he hadn’t already stepped on a pampered toe too many, Peterkin referenced the PM’s support for the Massy Group: Anything to end the Chastanet supermarket monopoly! Funny? How about his bit about low-cal condoms?
As for the more serious aspect of the show, once again the night’s big winner was Bay Gardens Resorts. For the second consecutive year the hotel carried away the prestigious Business of the Year award. The resort also won the award for Marketing Excellence.
Eleven other awards were handed out including the now infamous Prime Minister’s Award for Innovation. This time it went to West Technology Group Inc. Peterkin spared the PM any reference to the 2013 winner George Benson who went out of business soon after Philip J. Pierre handed him his trophy.
The award for Service Excellence went to Spice of India, Entrepreneur of the Year Award to Spice of India’s Adil Sherwani, Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award to Monetta Wilson, Goods Exporter of the Year Award to Baron Foods Ltd, Service Exporter of the Year Award to FDL Consult Inc., Award for Excellence in Human Resource Development: to Consolidated Foods Ltd, Award for Corporate Leadership: to Debra Tobierre of True Value Building & Hardware Supplies Ltd, Award for Corporate Social Responsibility to 1st National Bank St. Lucia Ltd and the Green Award to FDL Pest Control Solutions. The Idea of the Year Award went to Independent Film Company run by Dale Elliot who produces the popular TV series Untold Stories.The Chamber’s Lifetime Achievement Award went to businessman Christopher Renwick, founder of Renwick and Company.
The ceremony was preceded by a red carpet affair where the who’s who in politics and business (often one and the same) smiled for the cameras. The event, which was aired live on Choice-TV ended with a grand shebang that afforded invitees the opportunity to smooch and show off their expensive bling, their suits and their designer gowns. Hopefully, all of it was purchased from local stores.
The sixth annual Saint Lucia Chamber of Commerce Awards ceremony was held at the Sandals Grande Beach Resort and Spa.
Turn to pages 12 and 13 for more on Chamber Awards.