Tributes paid to lost dads

Bermuda yesterday paid tribute to great dads as well as children who have sadly lost their fathers at a special event at City Hall.

The Gina Spence Productions event included speeches by dignitaries, community workers, mentors and fathers during an evening packed with entertainment.

Children took part in art and dance competitions as well as an essay competition in which children were invited to write about their dads.

The evening opened with a prayer by Kimmie Mello, who paid tribute to the late politician Shawn Crockwell with a minute’s silence.

The independent MP who died last week was both a board member of Gina Spence Productions and the man behind the idea of the event which is titled “Celebration of Fathers”.

Michael Dunkley began the official schedule by reading the Father’s proclamation. The Premier said: “On Father’s Day we honour the men in our lives who have helped shape us for the good and we recommit to supporting fatherhood and families in our communities. Fathers, along with mothers, are our first teachers, coaches and advisers. They help us to grow into adults, consoling us in times of need and celebrating with us in times of triumph.

“Today, too many children in our country grow up without our support and guidance — a father’s absence is felt by children, families and communities in countless ways leaving a hole that can have lasting effects. We pay tribute to all fathers who have been our guiding lights.”

Mr Dunkley also paid tribute to Crockwell and made mention of politician Jefferson Sousa’s recent loss of his father.

On a personal note, Dunkley, a father of two, added: “I remember the values that my father taught me — hard work, perseverance, sacrifice and have fun along the way. To the fathers out there, keep up the great work.”

Minister of Social Development and Sport Nandi Outerbridge paid tribute to the mentoring programme Mirrors saying: “Studies show that children who have involved fathers are more likely to be emotionally secure, be confident, explore their surroundings and have better social connections. Mirrors is one of the programmes that falls under my ministerial remit and I have seen first-hand how many young children, especially young males, excel when there is a strong role model in their life.”

The King’s Kids Dancers out of Vernon Temple AME Church performed an inspirational dance before Opposition leader David Burt took to the podium.

“It is without question a blessing to be a father — children are a gift of God,” he said. “The burdens of parenting and the joys of parenting is without question the most fulfilling thing that I have done in my life.

“It is very important for us to remember that there are many inside of our communities who for whatever reason — whether it be an untimely passing or through violence — do not have fathers or a father’s influence. It is important for us to remember those children on Father’s Day and to make sure that for those of us who know young ones who do not have a father figure in their life do whatever we can to make sure we can support them and their family.”

Shadow Minister for Social Development and Sport Michael Weeks added: “As a father, I know first-hand the importance of proactive fatherhood, the importance of having a committed hand in raising those who God has entrusted in us.

“If we want our children to show up, then we must first show up. If we want our children to use good judgment and have good manners then we as fathers must show good judgment and good manners.”

Gina Spence Productions volunteer and team member Father Franklin W. Francis encouraged all fathers to take an active role in their children’s lives and called on mothers to allow them to be a part of their children’s lives.

His sister then performed Vice Versa Love by Barrington Levy and Calvin Smith performed a rendition of Hero.

Several awards were given out during the event including awards for the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, which trains young people to sail and Beyond Rugby for mentoring and supporting at-risk youths.

Hilton Wolfe was named Father of the Year for his child’s essay about him, with special mentions going to Antoine Roach and Trenton Tankard.

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