Family, friends, and well-wishers paid special tributes to Miss Yvonne McKetney in celebration of her 90th birthday at a double treat celebration that included a thanksgiving service held on 3 July, and her grand birthday party on 4 July.
Ms. McKetney, who is a highly respected member of the community, was born on 3 July 1925 at Road Town, Tortola. She was baptized at the St George’s Anglican Church and was confirmed at the same church in 1937. Her service to the St George’s Church and Road Town Parish began in 1943 and she remains a faithful member to this day. She served as Vice President of the Episcopal Church Women of the Diocese of the Virgin Islands. She is a founding member of the St. George’s School Board, and served as Vestry Clerk from 1970-1976.
As a public servant, Miss McKetney served as a Clerk/Librarian in the BVI Education Department from February 1944. In 1946 Miss McKetney completed higher courses in Librarianship at the Regional Library in Trinidad, and in 1964 she was appointed Chief Librarian. Four years later she completed courses for Overseas Establishment Officers at the Royal Institute of Public Administration, in London.
In 1967 she was appointed Secretary of the Public Service Commission. In 1969, Miss McKetney became the Chief Establishment Officer in the Administration Department. This post was followed by her appointment as Secretary of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission in 1969. Later, in 1971, Miss McKetney became the Acting Administration Secretary in the Administration Department.
Given her life-long ardent commitment to the Church and loyal service to the Territory it was fitting that the birthday service was held at St George’s Episcopal Anglican Church where Miss McKetney has served for over 59 years. During the special thanksgiving service, many members of the Church spoke warmly of Miss McKetney, both in her service to the Church and the Territory. Many reminisced about Miss McKetney’s unselfish service to the community, as well as the good old days and the wisdom and knowledge of the honouree. Her knowledge, in fact, encompasses Virgin Islands history, social history, and the history of the Church in the BVI.
The thanksgiving event, on the eve of the 270th anniversary of the Anglican Church in the British Virgin Islands, was planned by the guest of honour herself with the assistance of Church Rector Rev. Father Ronald Branche. “I selected everything on the programme — the hymns and one prelude which was played while everyone gathered — it is my favourite from J.S. Bach,” she told The Islands Sun newspaper during an interview.
In recapping the well-attended thanksgiving service, Miss McKetney said that she was very pleased with the solo piece “I’ll Walk with God” performed by Maureen Welsh and the Church Choir’s rendition of Beethoven’s “Ode of Joy.”
The birthday party, Miss McKetney said, was made special by the members of the Church’s Choir, and she especially thanked Choir Director Cedric Dawson who coordinated the event prominently featuring her favourite colour – blue.
The lawn of her Road Town Waterfront property was transformed, and Miss McKetney commented that it was a beautiful sight: “I was fascinated,” she said as she recalled the celebration that was attended by her relatives and friends.
Topping Miss McKetney’s accolades is her 1988 award of Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for her faithful and loyal service.
The contribution that Miss McKetney has made to the Territory continues to be remembered as she was recently honoured by the Ministry of Education with a certificate of appreciation for outstanding service in librarianship.
During the interview, she was asked to give some advice to public servants and to share a lesson that she has learnt over the years. The wise and smiling lady admonished young persons considering the job world to carefully examine their career path and secure that they have a genuine interest in what they do. To others already serving she reminded them to always give their best.
Miss McKetney noted that playing the piano is her hobby. However, that is an understatement, because she is a highly skilled musician with great familiarity with the classical repertory. In fact, her love for the piano and the organ was demonstrated over the many years during which she excelled as the organist for the St George’s Church. Over the years, she has shared her love for music with the community through piano lessons.
In closing, Miss McKetney noted that the best lesson learned over the years is patience, and how to be patient.