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A parade of excellence at the VIP awards

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The VIP Excellence Award night proved to be a stupendous event Saturday last at the Fairmont Southampton Resort.

It was gala salute to the shining stars in Bermuda’s hospitality industry. More than 300 had been nominated in the first instance, and 54 of them were selected as finalists for a formal, red carpet, spot-lit “parade of excellence”.

And to accentuate the positive a shortlist of 17 were named as contenders for recognition as “the best of the best”, and the fabulous cash and travel prizes they were awarded.

Betty Jean Gilbert, coolly walked away with the VIP Best of the Best cheque for $10,000 that went along with other prizes she received earlier.

It was a first class, well planned and executed show — a Bermuda Oscars — with much sumptuous good food and flowing drink.

For this tee-totaling and special dieting columnist it was a joy just admiring those without such foregoing inhibitions fully indulging as we go these days for the fellowship rather than the food!

The entertainment by the VIP Excellence Awards Band was great, with Steve Darrell as guest artist.

An unlisted item was the appearance on screen and in person of Johnny Woolridge leading the applauding audience in a spirited rendition of his unofficial national song, ‘Proud to be Bermudian’.

He probably got some converts with his act.

A big highlight of the was the video presentation of the candid reactions of the seventeen finalist when told in their work settings and then their ‘off-the cuff’ acceptance speeches.

Donna Lindo put a class act, dancing her way to towards and whilst at the podium, minus her shoes, for the hospitality support services award.

Patricia Nesbitt, a CedarBridge Academy teacher, gave a candid-camera, drama queen performance when first told of her nomination for the Production Services Award, winning over Dale Butler of the Little Venice and photographer Bruce Leseur.

Winfield Todd of The Reefs was almost carried to the podium by his friends when he was cited for the Front of the House, best bell/doorman award, winning over Wesley Dill of Fairmont Hamilton and Nick Derosa of Fairmont Southampton.

Mark Anderson was characteristically good accepting the award as the best bus/sightseeing operator.

He pretended ‘Sybil’ his other self was better at the mike than Mark.

Spot-lighted at the start of the programme were executive members of the VIP Board including Dr Barbara O’Shaughnessy, vice-chair, Alan Trew and E Michael Jones.

Their first order of business was to single call out Connie Dey for a Lifetime Achievement Award and $500 cheque.

Ms Dey was cited as a national institution for having personally touched the hearts of thousands of visitors to the Island, creating a high ‘repeat factor’ through her many years work in the Department of Tourism, National Trust and in the Rendezvous winter programmes for tourism including the Skirting Ceremony, Gombey Festival and Walking Tours of St George’s.

Pastor Dean Smith of the Open Door Christian Assembly had responsibility for invoke the grace from on high for the food.

It was overwhelming, he said, seeing how fabulously the VIP event was in comparison to what was the big thing in the early seventies when he took his first job as hotel worker; then it was to select a Mister or Miss Hotel worker of the year.

Betty-Jean Gilbert hit the sky making her acceptance speech as Best of the Best at the 12th Annual VIP Excellence Awards event, winning a $10,000 cheque on top of other fabulous prizes. A graduate of the Hotel Training College she has dedicated her life to the hospitality industry. She has worked at Fairmont Southampton for 30 years as a waitress, room service and convention hostess. It's not unusual to be on the job at five am for banquets or conventions and to work until after midnight, she said. In addition she's a Bermuda Industrial Union shop steward; mentors young employees and goes out of her way encouraging other Bermudians to enter the industry.
Betty-Jean Gilbert is besieged by the Gilbert Clan, including her mother, Betty Gilbert of Somerset, her siblings and her young son.
Best Bartender amongst the VIP finalists was Robert Peter Bell of the Red Carpet Bar and Restaurant, above with his wife Honey Adams Bell and his mother Phyllis Bell Williams, a hotel cook for many years, now works as a private caregiver.
Mark Anderson, better known as Sybil, being congratulated as the best bus/sightseeing operator.
Winfield Todd of The Reefs is above with his beauteous bevy hailing him as the Best Doorman, winning over Hamilton Princesses' Wesley Dill and Nick Derosa of Southampton Fairmont.

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Published April 20, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated April 19, 2013 at 4:58 pm)

A parade of excellence at the VIP awards

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