Flora Duffy made a Dame as four Bermudians receive New Year’s Honours
Bermuda’s Olympic hero Flora Duffy has been made a Dame in the New Year’s Honours.
Ms Duffy, OBE, who struck gold in Tokyo as she triumphed in the triathlon putting Bermuda on the world stage, was recognised as Dame Commander of the British Empire for her services to sport in Bermuda.
Dr Joseph Froncioni was named a Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to road safety in Bermuda while Erica Smith and Owen Ellsworth Simons received the Queen’s Certificate and Badge of Honour for services to the community and for services to music education in Bermuda respectively.
It was said of Ms Duffy: “Flora Duffy is recognised for her exceptional contribution to sport in Bermuda over many years and for her outstanding achievements in triathlon, which include becoming the first and only person to ever win an Olympic gold medal for a British Overseas Territory.
“Her achievements also made Bermuda the smallest country, in terms of population, to win a gold medal at a Summer Olympics. In addition to her Olympics win this year, Ms Duffy also won the 2021 Xterra World Championship, the 2021 World Triathlon Championship Series Abu Dhabi and the Groupe Copley 2021 World Triathlon Championship Series Montreal.”
Dr Froncioni’s work in road safety includes co-founding the Road Safety subdivision of the Bermuda Medical Society in 1995 and becoming the medical representative on the Bermuda Road Safety Council in 1998.
In 2001, he founded the charity, BermudaSmartRisk, with the goal of addressing risky behaviour among young people and advocating a more positive approach to injury prevention.
In 2008 the results of a study, Road Traffic Injuries in Bermuda 2003 to 2004, were made public. The study led by Dr Froncioni and funded by BermudaSmartrisk ”brought to light the magnitude of Bermuda’s road safety problem and made specific recommendations for improvement“.
The study looked at 3,673 victims of road traffic crashes over a two-year period and remains the most comprehensive study of road safety in Bermuda.
Dr Froncioni is currently chairman of the Board of A Piece of the Rock Limited, a non-profit company whose stated mission is to raise funds for a comprehensive road safety campaign.
Mrs Smith has served as the Executive Director of the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation since 2014.
A statement explaining the honour said: “In that capacity she is responsible for overseeing the corporation’s role in developing a strong, well-managed and prosperous local business sector, consisting of over 6,000 small and medium-sized enterprises through the provision of business advice, counsel and financial assistance.”
During the pandemic Mrs Smith led a team which supported numerous local businesses and deployed more than $5 million in Covid-19 funding support to assist local small and medium-sized businesses.
Mrs Smith’s former roles include Bermuda’s only Director of the Economic Empowerment Zones Agency; Bermuda’s first Director of Sustainable Development and National Director of the Duke of Edinburgh Award in Bermuda.
She is an International Exchange Alumni of the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs VolVis programme; an alumni mentor with the Cherie Blair Foundation and has spoken on behalf of Bermuda at the United Nations on Sustainable Development.
Owen Ellsworth Simons has educated Bermuda’s children in music and enriched the wider community with his talent as a director, organist and pianist for more than 25 years.
Mr Simons began playing the piano by ear at the age of three; his first job was playing at the Chapel on the Naval Base in Southampton and at the age of eight he was playing at weekly church services at Southampton Seventh Day Adventist Church.
By the age of 13 he was the organist at St Michael’s Roman Catholic Church in Paget and remained there until he left for college in 1988.
He graduated from Oakwood University with a bachelor’s degree in music education in 1994 and obtained his Master of Education in music from Alabama A & M University in 1996.
Mr Simons returned to Bermuda in August 1996 and started working at the Bermuda Institute as the music teacher for grades K-3 and the choir director for the high school. To date he has also served as music teacher, choir director, Department of Humanities Head and vice-principal.
He has mentored musicians including Jonathan Tankard, Stephen Manders and Aaron Ratteray and started a breakfast programme designed to give young men the opportunity to learn how to cook.
He has shared the stage with acclaimed artists Richard Smallwood, Tramaine and Walter Hawkins, Kirk Franklin, Donnie McClurkin, Wintley Phipps and Gayle Jones Murphy and Company.
He is also employed at the St Anne’s Anglican Church as their organist and choir director and has served in that capacity since 1996.