Valerie Amos named 'Guyanese of the year'
Says honour belongs to whole community

By John Mair In London
Stabroek News
November 18, 2003

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Baroness Valerie Amos, leader of the House of Lords in the Palace of Westminster was named 'Guyanese of the Year' in the Guyana High Commission (UK) awards presented at the Fairfield Halls in Croydon on Sunday.

In a measured but emotional speech afterwards she announced it a "great honour... but one that belongs to all of you." She heaped especial praise on her parents who were in the front row of the packed auditorium.

Baroness Amos is the first black woman in a British cabinet but she said she was not unique. "This room is full of firsts. All born in Guyana. We make small strides, the whole community moves forward."

Baroness Amos was appointed Leader of the House of Lords in October. She had been in the British Cabinet for just five months as Secretary of State for International Development. Today, she stands at the apex of British political life, a trusted lieutenant of Prime Minister Tony Blair. She is also a king-pin of the so-called 'Guyanese Mafia' in Britain, which includes Trevor Phillips, the chief executive of the Commission for Racial Equality and Colleen Harris, just resigned as press secretary to Prince Charles among others, who have risen to the top of public life in their adopted country.

Throughout her rise, Baroness Amos has retained her pride in Guyana. Before the surprise announcement, Lady Amos had been simply the guest of honour and the citation reader at what was a fairly long and low-key affair in comparison to the first awards ceremony two years before.

The newly-anointed 'Guyanese of the Year' thanked Guyanese and West Indians worldwide for the support she has received from them especially in her recent meteoric political rise. Baroness Amos must now rank as the best known Guyanese not just in the UK, but in much of the Western world.