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GraceKennedy launches Household Worker Award

KINGSTON, JAMAICA, May 29 - To thunderous applause from those gathered, Elaine Duncan today walked away the first winner of the GraceKennedy/Heather Little-White Household Worker of the Year Award. Mervelyn Brown won second place, while third place went to Edward McGowan.

GraceKennedy Group CEO Don Wehby stated that over 100 nominations had been sent to GraceKennedy, surpassing even the company's expectations as to how Jamaica would have responded to the initiative. "It showed that we care, but that Jamaica cares as well," he said.

The event, held today at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, brought together GraceKennedy team members, representatives from the Jamaica Household Workers Union, family members of Dr Little-White, the Judges of the Award, and the top eleven nominees for the Household Worker of the Year Award. The Most Honourable Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller was the keynote speaker, and she lauded the nominees and household workers in general. In a recorded speech, Shirley Pryce, President of the Jamaica Household Workers Union said, "this award today reminds me of the Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers song, that small people, one day must get big." Ms Pryce is currently is in Mexico at a Gender Equality Conference.

The GraceKennedy/Heather Little-White Household Worker Award was launched in April of this year, with the aim to honour some of Jamaica's finest, thought by the company to have gone unrecognised for too long. The public was asked to help change that, by nominating household workers for the award. A panel of six judges then went over the entries, selecting a top 11, from which the top three were then selected. Gender Consultant and Judge Dr Glenda Simms who spoke on behalf of the judges, said the process of selecting the finalists was very difficult, and said that there were moments when there were no dry eyes in the Judging room. Nevertheless, she said, she thought that they had made the right choices in their final decision.

An elated and overwhelmed Ms Duncan received a trophy, $250,000, an account opened in her name at First Global Bank with $10,000 and a gift certificate from Hi-Lo Food Stores, valued at $50,000. She also will choose a secondary school student whose education will be financed by GraceKennedy for a year. Second place winner Mervelyn Brown received a trophy, $150,000, an account from First Global Bank with $10,000 in cash and a $15,000 gift certificate from Hi-Lo Food Stores. Edward McGowan received $100,000, an account from First Global bank with $10,000 and a $10,000 gift certificate from Hi-Lo Food Stores. Those who did not make it to the top three did not go unrewarded. To their pleasant surprise, GraceKennedy presented them with certificates of recognition, as well as cheques for $20,000.

Mr Wehby said that the company was looking forward to staging the event on an annual basis. He also announced that GraceKennedy stood ready and willing to assist Shirley Pryce in making a reality of the vision shared by herself and Dr Little White, of starting a training centre/school for Household Workers.