Eastern Branch of the BVI Diabetes Association opened (by Astrid C Wenzke)

President Nurse Nora Manns (seated) with her Board Members. At extreme left Bennet Smith, VP BVI Diabetes Association, at right Elton Georges, President BVI Diabetes Association (Photo by Astrid C Wenzke)

President Nurse Nora Manns (seated) with her Board Members.
At extreme left Bennet Smith, VP BVI Diabetes Association, at right Elton Georges, President BVI Diabetes Association
(Photo by Astrid C Wenzke)

A group of interested persons turned out at the East End-Long Look Community Centre to learn more about the importance of establishing a branch in the Eastern area of Tortola.

The meeting was opened by Chairman Bennet Smith, vice president of the BVI Diabetes Association and also the Tortola Central branch.

A very inspiring prayer was said by Ruth Solas, Treasurer of the Tortola Central branch, after which Chairman Bennett Smith introduced Nora Manns, a retired Public Health Nurse, as the president designee and also warmly welcomed Nurse Tatica Scatliffe, a founding member of the BVI Diabetes Association and still a very active member of the Tortola Central branch. He said: “ I am so pleased to see so many young people here today. The whole idea is to increase the awareness, knowledge, treatment and control of Diabetes, which unfortunately is prevailing in the Caribbean.” He continued: “In the 1980ies and 90ies there was a very active group here called: Eastern Diabetic Club.”  In closing Mr. Smith said: “ Activities will vary from time to time. Nurse Manns will need a lot of support. Good luck to you all!”

President of the BVI Diabetes Association Mr. Elton Georges, OBE, reminisced on the past 37 Years: “Members and the late Dr, Jana Downing met with people on a monthly basis to comfort each other to cope with Diabetes. As Nurse Scatliffe said – it will evolve trying to teach prevention. Unfortunately a lot of people do not like the idea to get tested until it might be too late. The idea of having the branch in the Eastern part of Tortola is to enable people to get help without having to travel to town.” He continued by encouraging persons: “ We need to have leadership and people to obey by the rules, but also leave time to have some fun. We now like to see persons to take up the mantle and try their best to get it moving.”

At this point Mrs. Astrid C Wenzke, President of the Tortola Central Branch of the BVI Diabetes Association assisted with the Election procedures and was pleased to shortly after being able to present the newly elected board:

President: Nurse Nora Manns; Vice President Cynthia Brannigan; Secretary Maralyn Richards; Treasurer Atlee Chalwell; Assistant secretary/ treasurer Nurse Suzette  Williams; PRO Dawn Smith-Bryan, while Kareen Brice, Weine Hutchinson, Edith Penn, Percy Fahie and Binaldo Frett will serve as board members.

Mrs. Wenzke congratulated the new board, pledged her support and presented a check to the treasurer to get his accounts started.

Newly elected president Nurse Nora Manns opened her remarks with the best known quote from the inaugural speech in 1961 of former US-President John F. Kennedy: “Ask not what your Country can do for you, but what you can do for your Country!” She continued by remembering the time she spend with her grandmother on Salt Island and stated: “When our dog died I gave him a funeral and said a prayer by his grave. These caring attributes have always been in me. YES, I have retired, but I think I still can do a lot for my community. Diabetes is a decease that can get out of hand. We need to learn how to deal with it. Nurse Tatica always had a passion for people with Diabetes and she too cares deeply for people. Deep down she is happy of what we have achieved.” She closed her acceptance speech with: “We can agree to disagree to disagree, but still work in harmony!”

At the occasion of the Association’s 30th Anniversary in 2009, Nurse Tatica Scatliffe, MBE, recalled the history of the BVI Diabetes Association as follows:

“The BVI Diabetes Association was  started in October 1979 in the Road Town Clinic. It later moved to an open veranda on the ground floor of Peebles Hospital. The first BVI Diabetes Recourse Centre was opened in 1983 in the J.E.W. Georges store building. Moving from there it used different locations including the old Boy Scouts building and the Red Cross building until 2003, when the then Minister of Health agreed to provide some funding which made it possible to rent adequate space in the R.G. Hodge Plaza Building #2. It remained there until 2010, when it relocated to its present location – the Dr. Jana Downing Diabetes Resource Centre in #54 Main Street, next to Roger Downing’s Offices.”

The BVI Diabetes Association has now four branches: Virgin Gorda with President Franka Pickering, Western Branch President Gerda Smith-Wallen, Tortola Central branch President Astrid C Wenzke and the new Eastern branch, led by President Nora Manns.