This weekend PLUS News was on hand in the tiny village of Flowers Bank in the Belize District on an important day in the annals of Belizean history. 216 years ago Saturday, June 1, 1797, 14 men from the area went to what was then Belize Town and cast their vote in a very important ballot at a Public Meeting held to determine whether residents of the Belize Settlement would abandon it and flee from Spanish invaders via Mexico or stay and fight. Their vote ultimately made the difference, as 65 voted to fight and 51 voted to flee. About thirteen months later in 1798, British and Belizean forces defeated the invaders off the coast of Belize at St. George’s Caye. Four years ago a monument was dedicated in their honor and on Saturday the man who sponsored it was honored with a monument of his own.
Dr. Neil K. Garbutt, a physician and urologist, died of cancer in June of 2009, four days after the Flowers Bank Fourteen monument was dedicated. Good friend Ambassador Adalbert Tucker told us why it was so important to him.
Ambassador Adalbert Tucker:
We felt that we we’re missing the opportunity to market in a way that ia a formal manner that people would see. You know that once you put the monument, then we begin to organize around the monument and to expand. In other words, the monument presents itself in a physical form. Some of us have known the history before, and talked about the monument. Well we felt impatient about that. So we did the monument and then use that to do the next stage. Just before he died, the monument was launched. In fact I went to his hospital bedroom, and read to him what we were saying at the monument, and he died the next morning.
So it was after we were satisfied that we had recorded with him, and that the subsequent action followed, to continue to reclaim the history.
Dr. Garbutt graduated from St. John’s College High School and Sixth Form in Belize City and was top of class in studies at University of the West Indies (UWI) in Jamaica and Temple University in Philadelphia. He was described as no-nonsense and dedicated to the people of the River Valley whom he served for many years. According to Director of the Institute of Social and Cultural Research, Nigel Encalada, the new park will tie in with making the history of the village known to Belizeans and visitors alike.
Nigel Encalada – Director Institute of Social and Cultural Research:
It’s one of the things that we know is absent in Belize, and this is one of those things that we’re trying to do is to highlight events in Belize’s history that have had an impact on the creation of modern Belize. So what we’ve done over the years is that in addition to the monument we have put an exhibit within the Community Center. We have now inaugurated the park, and we have enhanced the seating arrangements along the river bank. so it becomes a place where people can come to, to relax. Teachers can bring students on field trips, while going to the Community Baboon Sanctuary. There is much to offer in this small space.
village chairman Clinton Rhaburn told PLUS News of some of the economic opportunities the installation will provide.
Clinton Rhaburn – Village Chairman ;
Being the Chairman, my idea is to see if I could improve these facilities, [bring] then together and make sure that we have some tour guides in this community, and attach probably some canoes, some dory, because we have the river right down there. [We have to] take good care of what we have, and see how how could improve on it, for the benefit of the community and the country of Belize.
Following a ceremony hosted by Myrna Manzanares and featuring an appearance from Captain Nicholas Sanchez, the park was formally dedicated by the Anglican Church’s Lynda Moguel and opened by Chairman Rhaburn, Encalada and area representative Edmond Castro. Thereafter there was a two-day Creole Festival featuring specially prepared food and drink and sporting tournaments in canoe racing and softball.