SIMPSON BAY–Three persons in St. Maarten were honoured with a royal decoration for their prolonged outstanding service to the community, during a King’s Day celebration held at Simpson Bay Resort on April 26 in honour of King Willem-Alexander’s birthday.
Rik Bergman was decorated as Knight in the Order of Orange Nassau, while Irene Hodge and Bernadine van Veen-Richardson were each decorated as Member of the Order of Orange Nassau. Bergman was honoured for his service to the (legal) community and the diplomatic corps. He serves as Honorary Consul of the United Kingdom to the Dutch Windward Islands and is a member of the St. Maarten Council of Advice. He was the first professional mediator in St. Maarten and helped to bring this option to the community. His promotion of mediation saw the growth of a community of mediators. Amongst other things, Bergman, a lawyer, has served as or is a current board member of Red Cross St. Maarten chapter, University of St. Martin, Parkinson’s Foundation St. Maarten and Stichting Behoud Fortkerk Curaçao. He was a member of Rotary Club of St. Maarten for more than 20 years and is a chevalier of La Chaine des Rotisseurs. Van Veen has served as Director of the Catechism Center of the Roman Catholic Church since her appointment in 2007. She is also a member of the Pastoral Team and has served as director of the Church Choir of Risen Christ Church in South Reward for the past 25 years. She is also co-founder and present president of Classical Delight. Hodge has spent many years volunteering in the country. She is described as an enthusiastic, loving and hard-working person with a very uplifting presence that she willingly shares with everyone she meets. She is said to be an exemplary keeper of the culture and values of St. Maarten and has been described as a living historian. She also has been described as an enigmatic person who leads by example. In remarks at the ceremony, Governor Eugene Holiday said that, considering the work of this year’s honourees and experiences of the past year, the event was themed “The Power of Service.” Holiday said the true value of service lies in its power “to take us” to a better place. “I have said it before, and I cannot repeat it enough: Imagine what our society would be like without the service of so many professionals and volunteers who, in so many different ways, work to improve the quality of our lives. “During the past year we have been reminded of the power of service. We have been reminded of how much we need the assistance, cooperation, and service of each other and of others to protect us and to safeguard our lives and our livelihoods. We have seen the power of service at work throughout our community; in our health care sectors, in our schools, in our churches, in our law enforcement. … “As we work to find our way out of the COVID-19 health and social economic crisis, it is important that we not take the service of our dedicated professionals and volunteers and our partners for granted. We must instead lift each other up to give us strength to carry on. We must each day ask God to guide us and show our appreciation for the service we receive.” Holiday said that as guidance is requested for the community, committed professionals and volunteers must be continuously singled out, thanked and recognised for their efforts. “We must stand still and create a platform to celebrate and acknowledge the work of our courageous men and women on the front lines, courageous men and women who continue to risk their own lives to protect our life and livelihood, courageous health care professionals, law enforcement officers, firefighters, other front-line employees, and volunteers, who remind us every day that the protection of our wellbeing and our country is our common purpose. “I therefore once again thank each of them for their invaluable and powerful service to the people of St. Maarten. “And as we do so we must remember that the power of service starts with simple gestures, like a smile, a kind word, providing help with simple deeds and giving advice at our church, community centre or service club.” He said deeds that stand at the foundation of the protection of the weak include caring for children and elderly; working to eliminate poverty; efforts to eradicate violence against and abuse of children and women; and the protection of the health of our people and environment and deeds of service that strengthens the collective resilience and fosters the country’s progress. Holiday said the honourees have dedicated significant parts of their lives to the professional, religious, and cultural advancement of the population. “They stand out for their unselfish volunteer work towards the promotion of the growth of the legal profession and mediation as well as for the advancement of the Catholic faith, of musical awareness and of youth and community development on our island. “They have as a result helped to positively influence the lives of many in our country over a prolonged number of years, and as such serve as examples for all of us of the ‘power of service’ in the advancement to a stronger St. Maarten community.”
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/three-persons-receive-royaldecorations-in-st-maarten