An appreciation dinner was held in the Community Hall, Sandy Point, on July 21 to honour former Administrator for South Abaco, Benjamin Pinder. Mr. Pinder was hoping to work until his contract expired in September 2013, but was replaced by an Administrator from Nassau, Joshua Smith, who arrived to take up office on July 15.
In an emotional farewell speech, Mr. Pinder said, “I am a little saddened at leaving my post but I was taught whenever one is down one should stand up, shake it off and move on so that is what I will do. I trust that I have done the best I can for people wherever I went. I have been branded as being political but no one can say that I have ever promoted one party over another. It has been my pleasure to serve you and I did my best. I give my thanks to the people of South Abaco for allowing me the privilege of serving you.”
In 1999 Mr. Pinder was approached by the Prime Minister who asked him if he would be willing to become Administrator for South Abaco. He replied that if the Prime Minister felt he had the right qualities then he would be happy to do it and he served from 2000 until mid-2002. He then served again from 2007 until July 2012. Mr. Pinder is a native of Sandy Point but upon leaving school spent some time in Nassau as a telegraphist.
He returned to Sandy Point in 1969 where he earned his living as a fisherman and boat builder. He soon became involved in the community in many ways serving for a while as President of the Burial Society and the Freemasons Lodge, serving on various boards and assisting in the St. Martin’s Anglican Church where he is still active.
Respects were paid to Benny, as he is affectionately called, by all persons seated with him at the head table. These included Mike Lightborn and Robert Sweeting, former Members of Parliament for South Abaco; John Hudson, Local Government Chairman for the Townships of Cherokee Point, Casuarina Point and Bahama Palm Shores; Stanley White, Chief Councillor for South Abaco and Israel Williams, Deputy Chief Councillor from Crossing Rocks who all spoke in glowing terms of the contribution Mr. Pinder had made to the community of South Abaco during his term as Administrator using such phrases as; “He was a pleasure to work with; he was upright in all his dealings and I am sad to see him go; he was a man of utmost dedication to the community, his church and family; we thank him for his years of service to the community and it was a privilege to work with him.”
Ms. Black, District Education Officer for Abaco, also spoke a few words in which she described Mr. Pinder as demonstrating nothing less than sheer grace even under pressure. On behalf of the entire Abaco District of Education enterprise, she thanked him for his labour of love over the years.
Mr. Pinder introduced the new Administrator for South Abaco, Mr. Joshua Smith. Mr. Smith noted that he is no stranger to Abaco, having been here many times as inspector with the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Works before becoming an Island Administrator. He described Mr. Pinder as the consummate gentleman saying; “I will try to live up to his gentlemanly fashion but I may not be as humble or have the same grace as he has.”
He stated that he believes in listening to people and offered an open invitation for persons to come and talk with him to work things out. “I am sure we can accomplish great things together. I cannot replace Mr. Pinder who is an icon but let us do all we can to move South Abaco to the next level,” he entreated.
On behalf of the South Abaco district, Chief Councilor Stanley White presented Mr. Pinder with a plaque of appreciation. Mr. Pinder stated that he had enjoyed working with the people and vowed to continue to assist in any way possible.
The function was attended by persons from all the settlements of South Abaco which include Sandy Point, Crossing Rocks, Bahama Palm Shores, Casuarina Point and Cherokee Sound plus several from Marsh Harbour who wanted to show their support for an Administrator they are very sorry to see have to leave office.