Respected educator Shirley Pearman has been made a Member of the British Empire (MBE) by the Queen, in honour of her decades of service to teaching and the arts.
News of the awards came yesterday as part of the Queens Birthday Honours List. Also honoured was recently-retired Chief Justice Richard Ground, who was knighted.
Mrs Pearman, 72, from Pembroke said: It certainly was a surprise and its nice to know that one can be recognised. Most people dont go looking for awards but when an honour comes your way you accept it with graciousness and continue in the same vein you were in. Its very nice to be recognised and appreciated.
Meanwhile, Sir Richard said he was honoured and gratified by the recognition from the Queen.
Its not just about me its also a significant recognition of the important role of the judiciary in Bermudian society, he said.
Mrs Pearman devoted 35 years of her working life to the education and training of young Bermudians in the classroom. She retired in 1997 after serving 16 years as First Assistant at Warwick Secondary School.
With degrees from Mount Allison University (BFA) and New York University (MA Ed), she was the first Bermudian to obtain a Master's Degree in Art Education.
Her service as a teacher and art specialist have been rewarded with recognition from the Sandys Rotary Club, Spring into the Arts and the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce, which in 2007 named her as one of its 100 Wonder Women.
Mrs Pearman told The Royal Gazette her teaching career was inspired by her mother and father. Her late father, Dr Kenneth E. Robinson, was a Chief Education Officer. Her mother, Rosalynd Robinson, who is still alive aged 102, was the Principal of Francis Patton School.
Meanwhile her husband, Roderic Pearman, received the Order of the British Empire in 2005 for his community service and teaching career.
Mrs Pearman is the proud mother of R Scott Pearman and Michael KR Pearman and has two young granddaughters, Robin-Balana Pearman and Anya Aeleishe. She still enjoys meeting former students explaining: Once my student you are always my student. I feel an obligation to continue motivating them, praising them and giving them a hug whenever they need it.
Mrs Pearman explained that when she retired as a teacher, one door closed and another opened when she decided to direct her efforts towards promoting, retaining and developing Bermudas arts, crafts and cultural heritage.
She served on various boards and committees including the Bermuda Arts Council, National Library, Stamp Advisory Board, Emancipation Committee and Bermuda National Gallery committees.
She participated in the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival in Washington, DC in 2001, which she described as one of the highlights of my life and has also contributed exhibits to the Bermuda National Museum.
As one of the first black Bermudians to serve on the Executive of the Bermuda Historical Society, Mrs Pearman was instrumental in conceiving, organising and administering postgraduate awards for Bermudian scholars engaged in research projects related to Bermudas history.
Meanwhile Sir Richard follows a host of other former Chief Justices of Bermuda in being given a knighthood. He already held the honour of OBE, and the latest honour was given to recognise his achievements during eight years as Bermudas top judge before retiring in March.
According to Government, Sir Richard raised greatly, and then maintained, the standing of Bermudas Supreme Court and therefore the Islands standing as a legal jurisdiction, during his time as Chief Justice.
Prior to that role, he was a Supreme Court judge for six years in the 1990s, Chief Justice in the Turks and Caicos Islands for six years and Senior Crown counsel and Attorney General in Cayman over a nine-year period. He also served on the Judicial and Legal Services Commission in Cayman.
Although many other former Chief Justices have been knighted, Sir Richard, 62, said his news was a surprise nonetheless and his family and friends were very excited by it.
It means that the role of the judiciary is not being overlooked or diminished, and thats so important for Bermuda, he told The Royal Gazette last night.
Mr Justice Ground is married to Dace, who is known for her work with the National Trust. They are currently living in Derbyshire, England, where Mr Justice Ground is trying to enjoy his hobby of fishing, despite the wet weather.
He was appointed in April to the Bermuda Court of Appeal and will begin to hear cases as part of the three-judge panel from next year.