St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The Federation’s only living national hero Sir Kennedy Simmonds is among 14 distinguished Caribbean nationals to be awarded honorary degrees from the University of the West at its 2020 Graduation ceremonies scheduled from January 11-16, 2021.
Sir Kennedy will be awarded an honorary doctorate for public service leadership, according to a press release from the university.
The ceremonies are described as a mix of blended, virtual formats to celebrate a graduating class of approximately 8500 students across the region.
The regional institution, in a press statement, lauded the achievements of the honorees, including Sir Kennedy.
“As a regional leader, Sir Kennedy Simmonds is praised for leading the tiny country of St. Kitts and Nevis into full independence from Great Britain in 1983.
Sir Kennedy became a founding member of the People’s Action Movement (PAM) in 1965 formed as an Opposition party to the ruling St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party. In 1976 he was elected President of the PAM and in 1979 contested and won a by-election to fill the seat left vacant after the death of Premier Robert Bradshaw. Sir Kennedy’s win, though not recognized by the ruling party, made him the first elected representative in St. Kitts who did not belong to the Labour Party. In response, the Parliament was dissolved and General Elections were called. PAM won three seats and formed a coalition government with the Nevis Reformation Party (NRP).
When he took office in 1980 as Premier, Sir Kennedy became the first UWI alumnus elected to lead a Caribbean country. In 1983 he became the first Prime Minister of the newly independent St. Kitts and Nevis. He led St. Kitts and Nevis through a turbulent time, working with Sir Simeon Daniel to prevent secession by Nevis. Prime Minister Simmonds’ visionary leadership between 1980 and 1995 birthed the Citizenship by Investment Programme, Port Zante, and the SELF (Student Education and Learning) Fund.
Sir Kennedy graduated from the University College of the West Indies with a medical degree in 1962. During a leave of absence from his budding political career, he specialised in Anaesthesiology. He became a member of the heart transplant team in Pittsburgh under the leadership of the renowned Dr. George Magovern. He also pioneered the use of the mechanical ventilator and the ECG monitor in the operating theatre in St. Kitts and Nevis. After serving as Prime Minister of St. Kitts Nevis, Sir Kennedy would again practice medicine serving as Anguilla’s Anaesthesiologist from 2002-2013 then the Director of Medical Services at Anguilla’s Health Authority”.