Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris made the official public announcement in his national address on the 32nd Independence Day of the federation.
Speaking on national radio and TV, he said, “Just three days ago, on National Heroes’ Day, our nation had cause to recognize and celebrate the contributions of nine citizens for their investment of time, labour, intellect and skills in nation-building. Today, we add yet another name to the Pantheon of National Heroes in the person of Dr the Right Excellent and Right Honourable Sir Kennedy Simmonds, our fourth Premier, and first Prime Minister of an Independent St. Kitts and Nevis.”
Prime Minister Harris continued, “We applaud this our only living National Hero who today serves as an inspiration to us proud citizens engaged in nation-building. Sir Kennedy you have done well for your country. We adore your character and say thank you for your sterling contribution.”
Sir Kennedy became premier of St. Kitts and Nevis in 1980, serving in that capacity until September 19, 1983, when he became the first prime minister of an independent St. Kitts and Nevis. Shortly after he became the first prime minister of the country to speak at the United Nations Assembly, as the country was admitted to the organization.
An accomplished medical practitioner, Sir Kennedy was elected president of the People’s Action Movement (PAM) in 1976, and in 1979 he contested and won the Central Basseterre seat that became vacant following the death of Premier Robert Bradshaw.
In 1980, he negotiated a coalition arrangement with the Nevis Reformation Party to form a PAM/NRP Government, which he led. The coalition was able to resolve several contentious issues that negatively impacted the socio-political relationship between the two islands. In doing so, the two parties were able to devise a Constitution that enabled the successful pursuit of political independence from the United Kingdom.
Among numerous achievements under his administration were:
- The creation of the Social Security institution and the Development Bank
- Legislated the protection of employment and also paid maternity leave
- Improved water storage and distribution
- Upgraded the international airport
- Created the Port Zante cruise and shopping facility
- Constructed the Southeast Peninsula road
- Constructed the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College and the Charles Halbert Public Library
- Introduced Cable TV
- Facilitated the introduction of cell phone early technologies, and
- Introduced the School Meals Program
Other significant achievements included the facilitation of foreign direct investment in areas such as tourism, manufacturing, transportation and an expanded and more vibrant private sector.
Sir Kennedy attended the Independence Parade that was held at Warner Park, Basseterre. Many citizens and residents are likely to commemorate the Independence Day holiday through various leisure activities.