Sir Cuthbert departs Government House to rousing applause.


Photo 1 – St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas speaks at the Retirement Ceremony for outgoing Governor General His Excellency Dr. Sir Cuthbert Montraville Sebastian KCMG, OBE, MD, CM at Government House.

PM Douglas expresses Nation’s "deep and sincere gratitude"


Photo 2 – Sir Cuthbert Sebastian and the Federal Cabinet of St. Kitts and Nevis

The Federation’s second Governor General since Independence, His Excellency Dr. Sir Cuthbert Montraville Sebastian, KCMG, OBE, MD, CM, on Tuesday departed Government House into retirement to the rousing applause of invited guests and a Guard of Honour as the St. Kitts-Nevis Defence Force Band played Kerwin DuBois Bachanalist.

"Sir Cuthbert has served our nation with fidelity, dignity, and honor. And so I thank everyone here assembled for coming to Government House this morning to acknowledge this fact, to say "thank you" to Sir Cuthbert, and to, by your presence, wish him God-speed at the dawn of this new chapter of his long and accomplished life," said St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas Prime Minister during a Ceremony to Commemorate the Retirement of Sir Cuthbert.

Dr. Douglas told the audience it was "seems like just yesterday that the then-Leader of the Opposition and I were discussing the importance of having Sir Cuthbert serve as Governor-General of our Federation. But, of course, it was not yesterday. It was, instead, 1995, the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party had recently been returned to power, and we were involved in the important task of identifying the individual best suited to serving our nation in this most important of capacities,"

He said the deliberations having been completed, and all formalities having been honored, Sir Cuthbert was inaugurated on New Year’s Day 1996 as the Queen’s Representative.

"And for this, we once again thank him. As I reflect on all that Sir Cuthbert has meant – and continues to mean – to our Federation, a very special quote comes to mind. Martin Luther King, Jr., that great American whose heart-wrenching selflessness made it possible for us, as Caribbean people, to now attend any university, stay in any hotel, work in any corporation, and live in any town or Hamlet of the United States, often reminded us that "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice."

Photo 3 – Sir Cuthbert Sebastian and the Cabinet of the Nevis Island Administration

"As we reflect on the life of Sir Cuthbert, and as we reflect on the life of his most courageous and compassionate father, Mr. Joseph Matthew Sebastian, this quote of Dr. King resonates with tremendous clarity and power. Because, without realizing it, and definitely without intending it, in standing with the powerless, the hungry, and the abused of our islands, and in doing so at a time when the power of the British Empire knew no bounds, the well-educated Joseph Matthew Sebastian set in motion a chain of complex and historic events that would culminate, more than half a century later, in his very own son being named Governor-General of the Federation of St. Christopher and Nevis – a Federation that his selflessness, vision, and compassion helped to bring into being," Dr. Douglas said.

He said that the arc of the moral universe is, indeed, long. And it does, most assuredly, bend toward justice. We honor Joseph Matthew Sebastian today. And we honor his son – Sir Cuthbert Montraville.

"Separate and apart from his father’s role in the history of our beloved Federation, however, Sir Cuthbert throughout his life, has used his talents and his energy to chart his own very impressive course. And in the process, he has demonstrated very clearly the power of ability and determination to overcome the power of any supposedly "restricting" and "limiting" external circumstances.

Sir Cuthbert applied himself with single-minded determination, from a very early age, to the field of health care. At the tender age of 18, he became a learner dispenser at our then-Cunningham Hospital. And then, always seeking higher ground, he soon became a licensed chemist and druggist; a laboratory technician; then senior dispenser and steward at Cunningham. Hospital (site of the now Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College (CFBC).

Photo 4 – St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas bids final farewell to Sir Cuthbert.

Prime Minister Douglas noted that in an era in which most of the elementary school students could be called out of classes, at will, to work in the cane-fields, Sir Cuthbert was applying himself to the rigors of chemistry, physics, and calculus at Mount Alison University in Canada.

"And at a time when a high school leaving certificate, as they were then called, was enough to ensure the few, fortunate enough to have them, of a good solid, solid career, Sir Cuthbert was working towards his medical degree at Dalhousie University, Canada. Upon graduation in 1958, Sir Cuthbert returned home to join the medical service as a general practitioner, prior to taking up even more advanced studies in obstetrics and gynecology at Dundee Royal Infirmary in Scotland," said. Dr. Douglas, who disclosed that the list of individuals to whom then-Dr. Cuthbert Sebastian attended as Medical Superintendent, as Obstetrician and Gynecologist at the Cunningham Hospital, as Chief Medical Officer, as well as in his private practice, is endless – the best known of his patients, of course, being the Father of our Nation, the Right Excellent Sir Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw. And many of these persons are with us today.

"I must hasten to stress, however, that Sir Cuthbert’s contributions did not end with academic and scientific pursuits. When just 17 years old, he joined the St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla Defence Force, and four years later was promoted to the rank of Medical Sergeant. I944, he joined the Royal Air Force, where he trained as a rear gunner during World War II, and by 1958 Sir Cuthbert was Captain Surgeon of the St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla Defence force. While studying in Scotland, as we might expect, he also secured a voluntary attachment to the Scottish Army as well, with the rank of captain.

Many people were blessed with extraordinary potential, Ladies and Gentlemen. Few, however, invest either the time or the energy that the full flowering of their potential demands. Sir Cuthbert Sebastian, clearly, has always been among the wise and fortunate few. May his accomplishments convince the young – and even the not so young – of our nation that with determination and diligence, wondrous things are possible," said the Prime Minister.

Photo 5 – Governor General His Excellency Dr. Sir Cuthbert Sebastian departs Government House for the last time as Head of State and the Representative of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth on Tuesday.

He noted also that Sir Cuthbert, Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, was also entered into the Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, Scotland, in light of his outstanding career and service to humanity in the field of medicine, and was awarded an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, Mount Allison University eight years ago.

And when, in 1995, his nation called upon him once again to serve, this time in a completely new capacity, that of Governor General, he answered that call and in the intervening years has given our nation many occasions to be grateful for his leadership.

"Permit me then, Your Excellency, to, on this occasion, once more re-affirm our nation’s debt to you, and publicly convey our nation’s deep and sincere gratitude to you in this regard. May God bless and guide you in all that you do. And may always remember with pride, the service that you have provided to our nation. Thank you," Prime Minister Douglas concluded.

All photos by Erasmus Williams