Basseterre, St. Kitts, September 25, 2013 (SKNIS): The success of last Friday’s (September 20) National Arts Festival Drill Competition has stimulated discussion among organizers that may result in the activity becoming an annual fixture on the calendar of events to mark the anniversary of Independence.
“To be honest, I expected a crowd, but it was ten times my expectations,” Captain Nigel Williams of the St. Kitts-Nevis Defence Force (SKNDF) Band said on Tuesday’s edition of the radio show Perspectives.
The competition, organized by Captain Williams, was contested by persons from the Customs and Excise Department, Her Majesty’s Prison, St. Kitts and Nevis Fire and Rescue Services, the Cadet Corps and Ross University School of Medicine Security. Members of Bravo Company (Reserve Corps) and Band Corps of the Defence Force and recruits from the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force also participated in the contest held on the Bay Road.
Each agency presented two representatives who performed a series of precision movements under the watchful eyes of a three-man judging panel. The audience, which included His Excellency the Governor General, the Right Honourable Prime Minister, the Commander of the Armed Forces and Commissioner of Police, was vocal in support of the various competitors.
“It was so exciting people couldn’t resist almost going under the competitors,” Mr. Williams said, recalling a few issues where persons came very close to the ‘action.’
At the close of the event, it was revealed that police recruit Akeem Hendrickson and Customs Officer Sherima Stanley were tied for third place in the individual category. Jamal Wyatt of the SKNDF finished second, while Kajali Gumbs of Customs and Excise earned the top spot.
The group category saw a similar outcome. The SKNDF reserve members Jamal Wyatt and Keshona Matthew placed third, police recruits Maaisha Liburd and Akeem Hendrickson placed second, while the Customs team of Stanley and Gumbs placed first.
“It’s a magical feeling,” Gumbs told SKNIS, noting that this is the first time the agency has participated in such a competition. Their victory followed on the heels of the announcement that the unit from Customs and Excise won the best quick time march past during the Independence Ceremonial Parade.
Captain Williams, who is also the Music Specialist at the Department of Culture, said that drills are extremely valuable to organizations, particularly those involved in security and public safety operations. He cited increased discipline as a major benefit and explained that this will impact personal and professional development.
The music specialist said that given the response of the public and performance of the competitors, serious consideration will be given to have the event every year rather than biennially as originally planned.