By: St. Clair ‘Sazam’ Hull
(Charlestown Nevis)- On Thursday, August 31, 2017 a retirement ceremony was held at Occasions, Pinney’s Industrial Site, for Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Eric Evelyn who gave thirty-two years to the Ministry.
A number of friends, relatives and co-workers showed up to bid farewell to a man that have played an important role in all facets to Agriculture on the island of Nevis.
The ceremony began with the Invocation by Canon Alston Percival. This was followed by the National Anthem.
Chairperson of the ceremony and Assistant Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Huey Sargeant, gave the opening remarks. He told the gathering that of the 34 years since the Agricultural Department came into being, Mr. Eric Evelyn has been there for 32 of those years. He noted that 32 years cannot go unnoticed.
Sargeant indicated that they went into the office of Evelyn and found some old clips of things that he did many moons ago. He indicated that Evelyn has been the face of Agriculture in Nevis over all those years.
Co-worker of Evelyn, Ms. Alsette Myers gave a few words on behalf of the retiree. She noted that Evelyn has been a very instrumental person to the department and all those who worked alongside him. She said that when he chaired meetings he would sit right by the door and used phrases such as, “The minister say” and “I won’t be long”. She said that Evelyn is a great person and one who encouraged them to be the best they can be.
Director of Agriculture, Mr. Randy Elliott gave some remarks. He stated that the time to plan the event for Evelyn was very short as they only had a week to prepare. Elliott pointed out that each time they sent out an invitation to someone, someone else name popped up who knew Evelyn. He said that a person indicated that they should just put an advertisement over the radio and invite since everyone seemed to be friends with Eric. Elliott told those in attendance that he has spent nineteen years with Evelyn at Agriculture and has learnt a lot over the years. However, he noted that the two most important things he learnt were fashion and leadership. Elliott said that Evelyn has always demonstrated strong leader ship and he will be very difficult to replace.
Former Director of Agriculture, Mr. Samuel Powell read a profile of Evelyn. Powell told the gathering that Evelyn is not really retiring’ He continued, “When I think of the word retire I don’t think about the person leaving. I just think about them ‘re-tyre’ with new wheels and keep rolling again He stated that Evelyn has been involved in Agriculture from the time he left school. Powell said that Evelyn was the first person in the Caribbean to have gained a distinction in Agriculture Science when he sat the examination. He said that Eric was Communications Officer during his tenure but facilitated in a number of different capacities.
Mr. Augustine Merchant who also once served as Director of Agriculture gave some remarks though a video presentation. He said that his relationship with Evelyn began many years ago when he taught him in Grade 3 at the Gingerland Primary School. He noted that Evelyn was a very bright student and would get almost everything right at all times, However, he pointed out that one of the things that struck him about Evelyn was how neat he was. Merchant said there was no rubbing out and his work always looked presentable.
Merchant said that he left Nevis to pursue studies and when he returned and was teaching at the Gingerland High School he met Evelyn again. He said that Evelyn gained a distinction in Agriculture at both the GCE and CXC Level making him the first person in the Caribbean to do such.
Merchant further stated that he and Eric met again at the Department of Agriculture. He said that Evelyn left for Trinidad to further his studies and got all distinctions there as well. He noted that a few years ago, someone who had heard about Eric’s brilliance, said they wanted to meet him and when they finally did, they said they were so happy because they felt as though they had met a star. Merchant pointed out, that Evelyn is one of the easiest persons to work with and they never had a misunderstanding whilst they worked together. In closing, he wished the retiree a happy retirement.
Deputy Premier, Hon Mark Brantley also gave some remarks via video. He said that he was unhappy that he was not able to be present at the function but through technology he is happy that he can give a few words. Brantley indicated that Evelyn is a cousin of his and they grew up very close in the village of Hanley’s Road. He stated that it was indeed a pleasure to have served with him in government and Nevis on a whole is a better place because of his service. He indicated that 32 years is no easy feat to any stretch of the imagination and Evelyn should be highly commended for his efforts.
Former Junior Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Livingstone Herbert also distributed some remarks. He noted that when he was asked to say a few words at the event he immediately said, “Yes I will”. Herbert indicated that Evelyn had a conviction for what he did and overtime that conviction became a passion. He told those gathered that when Mr. Augustine Merchant brought forth the idea of the Agricultural Food Fair, Eric was the first person to embraced it and as its stands today, the food fair would not have been what it is if it wasn’t for Eric.
Mr. Keithly Amory, former Director of Agriculture, also spoke at the event. Amory said that Evelyn is a dedicated worker beyond all measures. He noted that he was the always the first person to be at work and the last person to leave. Amory pointed out that everyone fell in line with Eric because they understood that Eric is the face of Agriculture. He noted that they had a wonderful working relationship and he knows that Agriculture will be poorer for his absence.
Minister responsible for Agriculture, Hon Alexis Jeffers gave some remarks. He said that him and Mr. Evelyn would meet every Monday morning at 9:00 am to discuss what was going on in Agriculture. He pointed out that one occasion, Eric came to see him and someone asked him what he was doing there and he replied and said, “I came to see my minister”. Jeffers said that he felt very good when that happen.
The retiree, Mr. Eric Evelyn also gave some brief remarks. Evelyn said that the event was supposed to be a surprise but over the past few days he heard a little bit about it. He indicated that Agriculture is his life and the decision to retire was a very tough one to make. Evelyn said that he has been involved with Agriculture since he was a boy and has met a lot of wonderful people over the course of 32 years. Evelyn further stated that when he does things it is not done for anybody to call his name or for pay, he does things because he loves people and he loves doing things. He thanked all those who supported him over the years.
A fruit basket and a plaque were presented to Mr. Evelyn by the Department of Agriculture.