BELIZE CITY, Fri. Apr. 30, 2021– On Friday, April 30, 2021, Sir Colville Norbert Young, GCMG MBE, formally stepped down from his position as Governor General, leaving his lasting legacy as the longest-serving Governor General in the Commonwealth.
Since Belize’s independence in 1981, the Jewel has only known two Governor Generals. Sir Colville Young was preceded by the late Dame Minita Gordon and assumed the Governor General post in 1993 following the recommendation of the Prime Minister at the time, Right Honourable Manuel Esquivel. He has since served in the capacity of Governor General during the terms of four of the five Prime Ministers of Belize.
In his address at a ceremony held to mark his departure on Friday afternoon, Sir Colville Young said, “I was approached by the then Prime Minister, Sir Manuel Esquivel, and was offered the post of Governor General. I hesitated, I consulted with family and trusted friends. Finally, I gave a positive response. Not once have I regretted that decision to serve Belize in that high post of Governor General.” His son, Lynn Young, noted in his address to those who attended the ceremony that even when the time arrived this year for Sir Colville’s resignation, there was reluctance on his part to depart the office. He lived for the opportunity to serve and make a difference in Belize, Lynn Young said.
During his speech at the departure ceremony, which was attended by government officials, as well as members of the diplomatic corps and the Belize Defence Force, Sir Colville Young further expressed his deepest gratitude to the Belizean people for making his job far easier than he had expected. “Men and women from every corner of Belize, of every political persuasion, of every religion and ethnicity, the young and the old, the high and the low, you have all been my reliable friends, and you have been my allies every step of the way, and for this I thank you,” said the departing head of state
Most of those who know Sir Colville or have spent time in his presence say that not only has he been an inspiration and a role model for the youth and the larger population, but he has also exhibited a great degree of modesty. Major Eric Neal said, “He is just like a man, a humble, compassionate individual who understands the importance of knowing people and, where needs be, providing those words of assurance for others. During my experience he never came off as elitist, pompous, to say. He never allowed the role to fill his head.”
Sir Colville Young considered the role of Governor General as more than a job. He saw it as a vocation and a service to the citizenry of Belize. Sir Colville has served over the years as an educator, an author, a playwright, a composer, a musician, a poet, a linguist and a “Protector” of the Kriol language. His fondness of literature and the creative arts led him to be the Founding President of the National University of Belize, the University College of Belize and the pioneer behind the “Music in Schools” initiative and the National Band Fest, which will be renamed in his honor as the Sir Colville N. Young Band Fest.
In his absence, Ambassador Stuart Leslie, the Cabinet Secretary, will serve as acting Governor General, until the likely swearing-in ceremony of Ms. Froyla Tzalam, pending approval of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
At the end of the departure ceremony, Sir Colville Young was given the Belize Defence Force (BDF) royal salute for the last time. The royal salute was then given to Stuart Leslie, as he assumed the temporary position of acting Governor General.