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Burt effusive in praise for altruistic efforts

David Burt, the Premier (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

Charities mobilised as the coronavirus crisis developed and the British Government pitched in to provide medical supplies, the House of Assembly heard yesterday.David Burt, the Premier, said Britain had sent 15,000 PCR tests for the virus, 26,000 N95 masks, 3,000 surgical masks and 1,000 digital thermometers, as well as swabs and personal protection equipment. The cost was met from the UK Conflict Stability and Security Fund.Mr Burt added that almost 200 Bermuda residents returned home to the island on two air-bridge flights arranged by the British Government “at nominal cost to travellers”.He told MPs that the Governor, John Rankin, the Deputy Governor, Alison Crocket, and the Government House team “have marshalled the considerable operation to realise these critical supplies for Bermuda”. The Premier thanked them for their efforts. Mr Rankin said yesterday he appreciated the Government’s thanks.He added: “We all need to work together at this difficult time and Government House remains committed to supporting Bermuda’s efforts in tackling the virus.”Mr Burt said that the Bermuda Community Fund’s “Herculean effort” had amassed $1.84 million in donations, with $1.5 million of it spent.He added that the money was used to support “charitable objectives, including the provision of an average of 10,000 meals per week”.Mr Burt said: “These efforts have been supplemented by some of our hotel partners like The Loren and the Hamilton Princess who have both kept staff employed while feeding citizens in need and our frontline workers. “This support has been invaluable and on behalf of the Government and people of Bermuda I wish to thank all donors, volunteers and supporters for their work. “I should particularly recognise Dr Myra Virgil, Vivien Carter and Tina Nash who have skilfully led the co-ordination of this effort.”Mr Burt also singled out reinsurance firm Athene for a $416,000 gift to fund ventilators for the Bermuda Hospitals Board, and Richard and Yemi Oduntan for their donation of $15,000 for supplies and PPE.Richard Oduntan is the chief executive of Nephila Climate, a Bermudian-based weather risk transfer investment and reinsurance firm.The Bermuda Hospitals Charitable Trust also donated $500,000 to the BHB.Mr Burt said that vital Covid-19 supplies bound for Bermuda were affected by “stringent measures” adopted by the US Department of Homeland Security “in an effort to shore up its own supplies at home”.However, he added: “We were able to call on friends in the US Congress to unstick a process that stood to deprive us of much needed medical supplies.”Mr Burt told MPs that the island had also been helped by unsung heroes who refused public acknowledgement for their actions.He said: “Across borders and sectors in Bermuda, her people and its various institutions have been ably supported by the assistance provided by others — in many cases, refusing to accept recognition for it.”Leah Scott, the deputy Opposition leader, added she wanted to “herald all of the unsung heroes”.She highlighted the work of people such as Martha Dismont, Family Centre executive director, as well as the Women’s Resource Centre and the Open Your Heart Foundation.Ms Scott said that people she knew had donated amounts ranging from $35 to $1,000 “to help everybody in this community”.She added: “Kudos should not be given to just those that are the high-roller donors and I don’t say that with any malice.”Ms Scott said: “There are people who are continuously and consistently giving and who were continually propping up our community prior to Covid-19 and they should be included in the recognition, so I would like to recognise them now.“In addition, Neletha Butterfield with Care Learning Centre, you know, she’s been helping out with the online education for our children and assisting people to continue to be able to get their GED.“So there are more people who have been helping our community than those who were called out by name this morning.”Mr Burt replied: “I have thanked all parts of the third sector of this country, all part of the volunteer community. I have recognised persons up and down.”• To read the Premier’s statement in full, click on the PDF under “Related Media”