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‘I’ll never let anyone take them again’

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Nurse has replaced stolen Badges of Honour

By Jonathan Bell

One of Bermuda’s best-known nurses managed to replace her beloved Queen’s Badges of Honour after her home was ransacked by a teen burglar.

But retired nurse Cynthia DeSilva, 75, no longer keeps the medals in her Deepdale, Pembroke home.

“I’ll never let anyone take them again — I made sure they’re safe,” she said of her 2004 badges, presented at Government House in recognition of 28 years’ service to the community.

Though priceless to her, the badge and its smaller version had no monetary value — and it put Mrs DeSilva $224 out of pocket to acquire new ones after the March 23, 2012 break-in.

“It was my first priority, to get them back,” she said.

Along with the two necklaces stolen, plus a safe-deposit box key, the insignia were never recovered.

Speaking to

The Royal Gazette the day after the 14-year-old juvenile was sentenced in Family Court for robbery and two counts of burglary, Ms DeSilva expressed pity for the offender and his family.

“Being a parent and a grandmother, I just wish he could get the help he requires. I really don’t feel angry with him.

“I just wish someone could reach him while he is still at such a tender age.”

She was also thankful for the offender’s guilty plea, which spared her having to attend court.

People have called Deepdale, where she grew up and has lived since 1989, “a troubled area”, Ms DeSilva said, adding: “That’s not really true. No area is excluded from violence.”

Her statement to the court called the burglary a date she’d never forget — and the only time her residence has been broken into.

About 90 minutes after she went to her job at King Edward VII Memorial, her son called to say every room in the house had been “turned upside down”.

Calling herself “heartbroken” to realise the Queen’s Certificate of Honour badges were gone, she recalled thinking: “Who would do this? I worked so hard, and it was such an honour to receive them.”

One Bermuda Alliance candidate Glen Smith, now the MP for Devonshire North West and then canvassing, showed her the procedure for replacing the medals.

“I had to pay $100 to Magistrates’ Court to get proof they were stolen, and then made an appointment at Government House,” she said. “$124 to get new badges sent over from Britain. I would have paid double just to have them again.”

Yesterday her phone rang constantly from well-wishers after her burglary loss appeared in this newspaper.

Ms DeSilva said: “Nursing is my life — it’s unusual that all this came to light during Nurse’s Month.”

She began nursing in 1975, specialising in Geriatrics, and gave wound care as a community nurse as well as serving as Senior Nurse for Pembroke Rest Home.

She continues to work as a carer: “It’s still going on,” she said. “I’m never too busy to receive a phone call and address a nursing issue. For as long as I can, I’ll be doing this.”

Reunited: Veteran nurse Cynthia DeSilva admires her replacements for the Queen’s Badge of Honour stolen from her family home.
Reunited: Veteran nurse Cynthia DeSilva admires her replacements for the Queen’s Badge of Honour stolen from her family home.
Readers’ reaction

Readers voiced outrage at a teenager’s theft of the Queen’s Badges of Honour from senior nurse Cynthia DeSilva’s home.

Wrote Mariam Smith: “This amazing woman was honoured for her selfless services and this selfish boy has stripped that. I understand that it is material and that TRUE HONOR COMES FROM GOD but she has clearly earned it.”

Frances Eddy said: “Why not put the boy and his family and police to retrieving them and find out what is behind his behaviour. This may be also an opportunity for restorative justice.”

“Ms DeSilva is one of the rare persons in this world,” wrote Pamela Moniz. “She is a kind generous caring person who gives of herself to others through her tireless dedication to nursing. I was blessed to have Ms DeSilva as one of the nurses attending to me during the recovery periods from my numerous surgeries.

And Raymond Ray told us: “Yes, I believe it should be replaced. It had been a sad day for her, and Bermuda on a whole. Having youngsters disrespect others, as has been done by this hoodlum, just should not be accepted!”

In fact, although it took a wait of two months to receive them from the UK, Ms DeSilva secured replacements.

Governor George Fergusson told

The Royal Gazette: “It is clearly highly upsetting when personal belongings are stolen and I have every sympathy for Mrs DeSilva. As I understand it, she has since replaced the insignia. I am pleased that we were able to help Mrs DeSilva get her replacement insignia.

“The formal position is that requests for replacement honours are handled in line with the policy laid out by the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood, who charge for replacement medals or insignia. The Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood advises recipients that they should ensure that their household insurance policy covers such costs, along with their other belongings.”

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Published May 11, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated May 10, 2013 at 11:47 pm)

‘I’ll never let anyone take them again’

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