REMARKS BY HON. MARLON PENN, MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
HANDOVER AND DEDICATION CEREMONY OF THE
GERTRUDE AND CHRISTIANA WARNER COMMUNITY CENTRE
PURCELL ESTATE, TORTOLA
27TH FEBRUARY 2023
Pastor Calvin Mills and other Members of the Clergy
Dr. the Hon. Natalio Wheatley, Premier
Hon. Alvera Maduro-Caines, Junior Minister for Trade and Sixth District Representative
[Other Members of the House of Assembly]
Dr. Amalia Del Riego, PAHO/WHO Representative
Senior Public Officers
Teachers and Students of the Alexandrina Maduro Primary School
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
A pleasant Good Afternoon to everyone.
Over seven years ago, the Ministry of Health and Social Development canvassed persons living in this community to hear their views regarding the re-naming of the Purcell Community Centre. Unsurprisingly, one hundred percent (100%) of the respondents were in full agreement with the proposal to name the building in honour of Ms. Gertrude Warner and her mother Christiana. The two women were remembered for their generosity in providing housing for the less fortunate, and giving them the opportunity to lease, and eventually purchase property in Purcell Estate at affordable prices. Gertrude and Christiana understood the solidarity it takes to build a country sustainably, and they reflect the true meaning of what it means to be a Virgin Islander.
In this same spirit of community building, the Gertrude and Christiana Community Centre serves as a key resource for public meetings, after-school activities, social events, and other important gatherings. It is a place where residents can come together to learn, grow, and connect with one another. The building also serves as a radio centre for the Department of Disaster Management and, as you have heard, its designation as an emergency shelter also points to its importance in Disaster Risk Reduction, community resilience, and keeping our people safe.
For these reasons and more, the Ministry of Health and Social Development prioritized the use of available funding immediately following the 2017 disasters to carryout emergency repairs to the roof of this building, along with other works to make it water-tight. I am extremely pleased that this facility has now been fully restored and strengthened to continue serving the people of Purcell Estate and the wider Virgin Islands.
It is therefore with great pleasure that I stand before you today on this exciting occasion to celebrate the reopening of this community centre. On behalf of the Ministry of Health and Social Development I extend sincere gratitude to the General Contractor – DE Property Development, the Premier’s Office, the Pan-American Health Organization, the European Union, and the entire Project Team for the critical roles you have played in the completion of this project. We are particularly grateful to our development partners for your technical and financial support, and fulfilling the commitment to assist the Government in upgrading our community centres to meet modern standards of resilience.
As you know, the Gertrude and Christiana Warner Community Centre is the third such facility to be repaired, upgraded to meet SMART standards, outfitted with modern equipment, and handed over through the Government’s partnership with the EU and PAHO. First to be completed was the West End Community Centre in November 2021, earlier today we received the keys to the Valerie O. Thomas Community Centre in Sea Cows Bay, and tomorrow we will be heading to Anegada to celebrate the handover of the Emile Dunlop Community Centre.
PAHO’s SMART standards will also be applied by the Ministry of Health and Social Development in our rehabilitation of the East End/Long Look Community Centre within the coming months, and the Brewers Bay Community Centre later this year. Although those buildings were too extensively damaged to be included under this EU/PAHO project, we will ensure that they too will benefit from SMART concepts as we work to strengthen them to better cope with future shocks.
As I conclude these remarks, I commend this restored Community Centre to the residents of Purcell Estate and surrounding areas. I ask that you join us in ensuring that it remains well protected and maintained so that it can continue to serve the needs of seniors, children, women and men of all walks of life. Let us come together in the spirit of Gertrude and Christiana Warner and continue to build a strong, vibrant, and inclusive community.
We look forward to sharing many memorable moments with you all in the years to come.