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Eileene Parsons named in the Queen's Birthday Honours

The Queen’s Birthday Honours List recognises individuals for outstanding achievement and service across the UK and the Overseas Territories.

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His Excellency the Governor Boyd McCleary is delighted to announce that Eileen Parsons has been awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to education and to the community in the British Virgin Islands.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II made the appointments as part of her birthday Honours List which was released in London today.

“My warmest congratulations go to Mrs. Eileene Parsons on being awarded the Order of the British Empire. Her dedication to service and to the Virgin Islands has been evident in everything she has achieved. Her significant contributions span from culture and tourism to education and politics. She truly has touched the hearts and lives of so many and I am delighted that this has now been recognised,” Governor McCleary said.

Eileene Parsons was born on Tortola to Virginia Parrott Fahie and James Elmore Stevens. After being schooled on Tortola and in St. Thomas, her quest for higher education took her to the Escuela Vocational School in Puerto Rico, and the Oswego State Teachers College where she studied Dressmaking and Industrial Arts, respectively. She also attended the Leeward Islands Teachers College, earned an Associate Degree in Secretarial Science at the College (University) of the Virgin Islands and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Tourism Promotion at Florida International University.

Mrs. Parsons taught in the British and US Virgin Islands from 1959-65. From 1965-95 she acted as Secretary to the Commissioner of Education USVI, and the Dean of the College (now University) of the Virgin Islands; Secretary, BVI Tourist Board, and the Board of Governors of the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College. She also served as Cultural Officer from 1984-1989 and as Registrar/Bursar of the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College from 1990-1995.

Mrs. Parsons was elected as a member of the Legislative Council in 1995, symbolising a victory for the advancement of women in the Territory. In 1997, she was appointed Minister of Health, Education and Welfare, becoming the first female Minister in 30 years of Ministerial Government. She retained her seat in the fourteenth Legislature, polling the fourth highest number of votes as Territorial candidate in the general election of 1999. On May 21, 1999 she was appointed as Deputy Chief Minister and Minister of Health, Education and Welfare in the Virgin Islands Party Government.

Mrs. Parsons is well known for her keen interest in culture and sports. She founded the Community Singers and the BVI Heritage Dance Company. Mrs. Parsons has also written extensively for publication in local newspapers and co-authored the book 1834 - 1984 - One Hundred and Fifty years of Achievement and Development through the Performing Arts. She also chaired the BVI’s Festival Committee from 1975-83. In sports she has been secretary/treasurer of the Blue Wings softball club since 1975; Secretary-General, BVI Olympic Committee 1976; a past vice-president of softball in the Caribbean and Latin America, 1981-83, and secretary/treasurer, BVI Softball Association, 1975-1989.

Published 14 June 2013