Her Excellency the Most Hon. Dame Marguerite Pindling, Governor General, presented the British Empire Medal (BEM) to Captain Vernon Ritchie and Bennett D. Minnis during the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours and Investiture ceremony, Thursday, September 20, 2018. The brief ceremony was attended by family, members of the Royal Bahamas Police Force and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force along with well-wishers including the Hon. Marvin Dames, Minister of National Security, at Mount Fitzwilliam, Government House. Julie Bingham, daughter of Captain Ritchie, accepted the award on her father’s behalf. In her remarks, Permanent Secretary to the Office of the Governor General, Anita Beneby said the two honorees, who are both descendants of Long Island, have contributed to the development of The Bahamas and its people. “They are men whose lives are illustrious, not because of title, profession or office, but because of their dedicated public, business and community service,” said Mrs. Beneby.
She added that the award brings national recognition to the work they have done and the service they have rendered on a local level over many years. “It is most gratifying that you have agreed to accept this honour. You have earned it and certainly, have every right to be proud.” Captain Ritchie, 80, has sailed the high seas for almost 43 years. He attained the rank of Master Mariner before the age of 25, at a time when this title was held by very few Bahamians. He has spent decades sailing the on the oceans and seas and experiencing what so many have only read in books. His travels throughout the archipelago provided an understanding and appreciation for the beauty, creativity, and resilience of Bahamians. A nationalist at heart, Captain Ritchie helped to build the country by sharing his knowledge and skills with younger generations. For more than 20 years he visited the male residents of the Geriatric Department of Sandilands Rehabilitation Hospital where he prayed and fellowshipped with them. He also imparted his knowledge of navigation and other topics to young men. Captain Ritchie is married to Maxine (nee Burrows) Ritchie and is the father of three daughters and two sons. Bennett Minnis is a Certified Licensed Plumber and a self-employed businessman.
He is a civic-minded community worker and activist whose charitable pursuits on behalf of the elderly and youth have become hobbies. He has served as a member of the Town Planning Board, the Hotel Licensing Board, and the Real Property Tax Board. He presently serves on the board of the Water and Sewerage Corporation. Mr. Minnis is an Anglican who presently serves on the Vestry of Christ the King Anglican Church, and is a member of the Anglican Church Men. He is married to Virginia Minnis and the father of 3 daughters. Police Corporal Hield and Police Corporal Pinder serenaded the honourees with a solo, and members of the Royal Bahamas Police Force Pop Band provided music for the event. A reception followed on the terrace.