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Executive Officer Mrs. Sarah Lawrence Retires After 35 Years of Dedicated Service
Justice and Legal
A special pre-retirement farewell luncheon was held in honour of Mrs. Sarah Lawrence who had served the Magistrates Department for 35 years. The event was held at The Sunset Café at The Timothy Beach Resort in Frigate Bay on St. Kitts. Present and former magistrates and staff of the Magistrates Department paid fitting tributes in the presence of senior personnel from the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs and family members of the honouree.
In delivering her response to the several courtesies accorded to her during the event held on 22nd December 2021, Mrs. Lawrence expressed her thanks to Almighty God for allowing her the privilege of being in a position to appreciate the blessing of retirement. As she reflected upon her sojourn of service to the Magistrate court system, she expressed feelings of being overwhelmed and speechless.
Mrs. Lawrence had been a long time working at the Magistrate’s Department with varying staff and several Magistrates; enduring the challenges of different personalities over the entire period. She has had the privilege of working as Clerk, Secretary, Senior Clerk and Executive Officer, ultimately being entrusted to several duties such as securing exhibits, recording appeals, dealing with cash, securing passports, preparing cheques, opening and closing an old vault, filing, typing for Magistrates, Clerks and for the General Public. She also dealt with the monthly forecasts, preparing warrants and copies of orders.
For extra-curricular activities, she has operated as Church Secretary, Church Treasurer, Worship Leader, Preacher and Personal Secretary to her pastor.
She acknowledged that it was not going to be easy saying goodbye, having been a part of the Court system for approximately 35 years and regarding the staff as ‘family’. She has always abided by the principle that everybody is somebody, and everybody deserves respect. She also acknowledged that there have been ups and downs, but by God’s grace, she had been able to overcome all the odds.
She reminisced that it had been great working with His Honour Mr. Hesketh Benjamin, the late Mr. John Lynch-Wade Senior, Mr. John Benjamin, Mrs. Simone Bullen-Thompson, Miss Sharon Cummings, Mrs Claudette Jenkins, Mrs Pauline Hendrickson, the late Dr Haynes Blackman, the late Mr. Cecil Byron, Her Honour Mrs. Josephine Mallalieu, and current Magistrates in the Federation: His Honour Mr. Renold Benjamin, Her Honours Ms. Yasmine Clarke, Mrs. Karen Hill-Hector, Ms. Donna Harris and His Honour Mr. Fitzroy Eddy.
She had also worked under the supervision of the late Mr. Norton Bowers, then Mrs. Eileen Knight, Mr. Eugene Heyliger, Ms. Rochelle Finch, Ms. Chelesa Rawlins and now Mrs. Shirley Hazel-Fyfield.
Her former Permanent Secretaries were Mrs. Rhyllis Vasquez, Ms. Patricia Herbert, both now retired. More recently her Permanent Secretary has been Ms. Diana Francis ably assisted by Ms. Zeliah Wilson. She expressed pleasure at assisting them all, emphasizing that there is something significant that she had learned from each individual with whom she had come into contact. She opined that the journey had been long and her enduring wish was to express a hearty thank you to each and every one for empowering her to become the person that she had become.
Special recognition was made of her husband Kenneth for ‘bearing with’ her through the years as a great companion and lover, having been at her side through thick and thin. They had been married for 27 years and God had blessed them with two talented children, Samuel and Grace. Her sister, Assistant Nurse Manager Hyacinth Smith currently attached to Private Ward at JNF General Hospital has also been a source of strength to her over the years along with her sister Glynis in Birmingham, England.
She reiterated her thanks to her former and current members of staff for being supportive to her in her daily work routines.
Her gratitude was also extended to past and present administrations of the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis; and she urged her colleagues to serve the people of the Federation well, to be polite to customers and to take pride in their work.
Mrs. Lawrence has been described as a civil servant of excellence who was “always the last to leave, early to arrive, and never took sick leave; did the work easily of three or four staff, never complained and was always honest and trustworthy”.
Her most recent immediate senior officer Magistrate Benjamin, pointed out that at the time when she had been inducted into the department in the 1980s, a secretary was a specialist position. Such persons “had to be a proper typist…had to be able to type without looking at the keyboard….had to be able to remove and replace the ribbon and to mass produce documents [and] had to be able to use a stencil machine”.
Magistrate Benjamin also revealed that during her tenure as a civil servant Mrs. Lawrence had only worked in the Magistrates Department; starting out when the Magistrates Department was located on the ground floor at the back of the building which houses the Basseterre Police station near Warner Park. She had been promoted to Senior Clerk on the 1st of January 1998 and to Executive Officer on the 4th of June 2017, and had been instrumental in helping to steer the department through times of great change from the days of the late 1980s to the present.
The Office of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs salutes the sterling service of Mrs. Sarah Lawrence and wishes her Godspeed as she proceeds into retirement.