Sept. 16: National Heroes Day in SKN

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Today, Sept. 16, is National Heroes Day in St.Kitts and Nevis…a  time to celebrate people who helped shape the Federation.

The Saint Kitts-Nevis Federal Parliament in 1998, passed the National Honours Act, establishing a National Heroes Day and three classes of awards. These are the Order of National Hero, the Star of Merit and the Medal of Honour. Members of the public are able to submit nominations for the awards, which are for citizens of the Federation who have given distinguished service to their country.

The inaugural National Heroes Day was held on September 16, 1998. Since then, five of the federation’s stalwarts have been named National Heroes.

In recent years the ceremony has been held at the National Heroes Park located along the Kim Collins Highway.

In honour of National Hero’s Day, the following is a profile of the Federation’s Heroes.

Robert Llewelyn Bradshaw (16 September 1916 – 23 May 1978)

The first national Hero of St. Kitts and Nevis the Right Excellent Sir Robert Llewelyn Bradshaw, known affectionately as Papa Bradshaw is credited with leading St. Kitts and Nevis to Independence.

When the inaugural National Heroes Day was held on September 16, 1998, he was posthumously given the title of Knight Commander of the Order of The National Hero, thereby being named the nation’s first National Hero.

He was a legislator and labour activist and after the elections of 1966, Bradshaw was sworn in as Chief Minister. On February 27, 1967, he became the first Premier of the Associated State of St.Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla.

On the first National Heroes Day in 1998, the Golden Rock Airport in St. Kitts was renamed the Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport in his honour. The Social Security building in Basseterre is also named in his honour.

In 2007, the Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw Memorial Park was dedicated at his birthplace in St. Paul’s. This park features a full-size sculpture of Bradshaw.

In 2010, the Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw building was dedicated on the Windsor University School of Medicine campus in Cayon and the Robert L. Bradshaw Institute of Governance, Politics and Industrial Relations was launched on 2 March 2017.

National Hero’s Day is celebrated on his birthday, September 16th.

Bradshaw led the charge for independence but died only a few years before it came to fruition.

He died on May 23,1978 of prostate cancer at his home in Basseterre and was succeeded by his former deputy, Paul Southwell.

Caleb Azariah Paul Southwell (July 18, 1913 – May 18, 1979)

Following the death of Bradshaw in 1978, Sir Caleb Azariah Paul Southwell was appointed Premier.

Born in Dominica, Caleb Azariah Paul Southwell was a teacher, police officer, and trade unionist. A job in the Leeward Islands Police force brought him to St. Kitts which became his home.

In 1956 he became the first Chief Minister and from 1967 to 1978 served as Deputy Premier.

In 2004, Mr. Southwell was given the title of Knight Commander of the National Hero posthumously.

Southwell is said to have pioneered economic diversification in St. Kitts and Nevis. The industrial site is named in his honour and is called the C.A. Paul Southwell Industrial Park.

C.A. Paul Southwell died suddenly of heart disease (hypertension and coronary insufficiency) on the 18 May 1979 while chairing a meeting of the West Indies Associated States Council of Ministers in Castries, St. Lucia. He was 65. He had been Premier for less than a year.

Joseph Nathaniel France (16 September 1907 – 21 May 1997)

Sir Joseph Nathaniel France, KCMG, CBE  was born in Mt. Lily, Nevis. He travelled to St. Kitts at the age of 13 for vacation and was offered a job. He remained in St. Kitts working and raising a family until the time of his death.

He was a politician and trade union leader who assisted in re-shaping the structure of the Trade and Labour Union into the nineteen sections that exist today.

France served as a representative in the National Assembly and as Minister of Social Services under Chief Minister Paul Southwell. He was also the General Secretary for the St. Kitts and Nevis Trades and Labour Union.

Sir Joseph successfully contested nine General Elections- 1946, 1952, 1957, 1961, 1966, 1971, 1975, 1980, 1984.

In 1978, he was awarded the honour of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE). In 1996, France became a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George. In 2004, he was posthumously granted the title of National Hero.

Sir Joseph died at age 89 on 21 May 1997.

The general hospital in St.Kitts was named in his honour for his invaluable contribution to the health sector.

National Heroes Day is also commemorated on his birthday.

Simeon Daniel (22 August 1934 – 27 May 2012)

Referred to as the Father of Modern Nevis, The Right Excellent Sir Simeon Daniel, NH was the first Premier of Nevis. He was a teacher, lawyer, civic activist, Premier of Nevis and the nation’s fourth National Hero.

Sir Simeon was among the founding members of a political party called the Nevis Reformation Party (NRP) in 1970, which was formed in response to the Federal government’s neglect of Nevis.

He served as Chairman of the Local Council from 1972 to 1980 and was elected to the National Assembly in May 1975 and February 1980.

With Dr Kennedy Simmonds and the Peoples Action Movement (PAM) he and the other leaders of the Nevis Reformation Party formed the first coalition government to govern the affairs of St. Kitts and Nevis in 1980.  In the coalition, Sir Simeon assumed the portfolios of the Minister of Finance and Nevis Affairs on 19 February 1980.

He had a major role in framing the Independence Constitution of St. Kitts and Nevis, which led to the return of government to Nevis on Independence Day, September 19, 1983, with the formation of the Nevis Island Administration.

Sir Simeon was the first Premier of Nevis from 19 September 1983 (Independence Day) to 2 June 1992.

Outside of the political arena, Sir Simeon established the Bank of Nevis Ltd. in 1985. He also founded Daniel, Brantley & Associates, a full-service law firm.

In 2012, the Centre for the Performing Arts in Nevis was named in Sir Simeon’s honour and On 16 September 2013, he was awarded The Order of National Hero.

Sir Simeon died at his home in Brazier’s Estate, St. John’s Parish on Sunday, 27 May 2012 at the age of 77 after battling cancer.

Kennedy Alphonse Simmonds (born 12 April 1936)

The Rt. Excellent Rt. Hon. Sir Kennedy Alphonse Simmonds, KCMG is St. Kitts and Nevis’ first and only living National Hero.

Sir Kennedy was the Premier of St. Kitts and Nevis from 21 February 1980, until the twin-island state gained independence from the United Kingdom on 19 September 1983.

Upon independence, he became the first Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis and served in that position from 1983 to 1995.

He was a founding member of the People’s Action Movement (PAM) party and was appointed President of the Peoples Action Movement (PAM) in 1975. Dr Simmonds contested and won the by-election in Central Basseterre called to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Premier Sir Robert L. Bradshaw.

He regained the Central Basseterre seat in successive elections in 1980, 1984, 1989 and 1993, but lost in 1995 and 2000.

Dr Simmonds resigned as Political Leader of the People’s Action Movement (PAM) in 2000 and retired from active politics that same year.

On the 16th of September 2004, the Rt. Hon Kennedy Simmonds was appointed a Knight Commander in the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael & Saint George (KCMG).

The announcement of the elevation of Sir Kennedy to the status of National Hero came in 2015. He was awarded for his contribution to nation-building at an investiture ceremony in 2016.

In 2019 the nation’s only living National Hero published his autobiography, ’The Making of a National Hero’, which documents the nation’s history and the part he played in its development.

In 2021, Sir Kennedy proudly received an honorary DSc from the University of the West Indies.

As has been done in previous years, the National Heroes were honoured this year at a ceremony punctuated with speeches and the laying of wreaths by family members and government officials at the National  Heroes Park.

Karla Berriidge
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