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BVI Lifeguard Graduation

Premier and Minister of Finance Honourable Ralph T. O’Neal, OBE said he was very pleased to attend Friday’s ceremony which he called an “extremely important matter as it has to do with saving and protecting lives. Lifeguards play a very important role.” – Government through the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour recently recognised Messrs Zacharri Stoutt and David Donovan, the first two local graduates from the Virgin Islands Lifeguard Programme with aquatic rescue standards for ocean lifeguards.

Premier O’Neal congratulated the lifeguards for their work and dedication towards completing the programme. Affirming his support the Premier said, “We must take every precaution now to do whatever we can to make sure that lives are safe and secured.”

He added, “I look forward to the time when all the beaches in the Territory will be staffed with lifeguards. It is a job which many people may not have a fancy too but there will be those who will brave it and I am very pleased with these two young men, young Donovan and young Stoutt.”

Delivering remarks on behalf of the Minister for Natural Resources and Labour Hon. Omar W. Hodge, Permanent Secretary Clyde Lettsome offered congratulatory remarks to the lifeguards, the Conservation and Fisheries Department, the BVI Tourist Board and the Government for past and present contributions to the programme.

“It gives me no small joy to see that five years after the inauguration of the programme, two sons of the soil are being recognised as having been trained and equipped as lifeguards.”
He added, “Since 2007 we have a total of 33 rescues by lifeguards. It is important to say that if we only had one single rescue that would be more than enough to justify the programme’s cost. With 33 thus far, it is obvious that the programme is worth its weight in gold.”

He continued, “I know we have lost a fair number of tourists and locals to drowning. True we may not have been able to save everyone regardless of the programmes in place but it is a known fact that well-run lifeguard programmes have been a tremendous benefit to swimmers and bathers.”

Chief Conservation and Fisheries Officer Mr. Bertrand Lettsome chaired the afternoon’s programme and declared it a red-letter day while Lifeguard Supervisor Mr. Mark Street explained the meanings of the various beach safety flags which were on display. Mr. Mervin Hastings, Lifeguard Programme Coordinator presented the certificates to the lifeguards.

Special recognition was bestowed upon Mr. John ‘JC’ Pierce for his heroic mass rescue efforts in April 2009 where he pulled three young persons from the waters at Little Bay Beach, Tortola.
Mr. Zacchari Stoutt in his response expressed his thanks on behalf of the recipients and outlined the various modules undertaken for advancement in the programme. He further capsulated his journey towards becoming a lifeguard and highlighted the friendly rivalry between himself and Donovan saying, “It’s truly amazing.”


In 2005, Government approved a budget for the Virgin Islands Lifeguard programme which resulted in the active duty of five lifeguards in 2007. Lifeguards are presently active at Cane Garden Bay and Josiah’s Bay beaches and run a flag warning system on all Tortola north shore beaches. The programme presently consists of four lifeguards, two beach safety officers, a lifeguard supervisor and a programme coordinator and operates under the Conservation and Fisheries Department after a brief stint at the BVI Tourist Board.

The first two local graduates from the Virgin Islands Lifeguard Programme Mr. David Donovan and Mr. Zacharri Stoutt flank Premier Honourable Ralph T. O’Neal, OBE and Mr. John ‘JC’ Pierce. Both Donovan and Stoutt earned certificates for aquatic rescue standards for ocean lifeguards at the May 7th ceremony. Mr. Pierce also received special recognition at the ceremony for his mass rescue efforts in April 2009 where her rescued three persons from Little Bay Beach, Tortola.

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