By Al Edwards
Friday, September 25, 2009
On Wednesday night, the chairman of Campion College's Vision 20/20 Plan, Andrew Mahfood, paid tribute to Charmain of the Sandals Group, the Jamaica Observer and Appliance Traders Limited (ATL), Gordon 'Butch' Stewart's philanthropic deeds over the years.
One of the island's top high schools, Campion College has outlined a plan to upgrade its infrastructure, add a new science laboratory, a new auditorium, a new library and new classrooms over the next ten years.
Addressing an audience of around 250 people, including past alumni Peter Bunting and Christopher Berry, at the esteemed academy, Mahfood said: "Tonight I do not want to take up too much time reviewing his business accomplishments. I want to speak more about the philanthropic side of 'Butch' and what Jamaica and its people mean to him." Mahfood pointed to the business mogul's early days when he would help the fisherman at Whitehouse Fish Fry in Montego Bay.
He recalled the Sandals boss renowned Butch Stewart Initiative, back in 1993, when his group of companies sold foreign exchange at below market rates every week for months, in an effort to stabalise the local dollar and keep inflation down.
"I want to speak about a man who was quoted as saying, after his group returned Air Jamaica to the Government, " If I were called upon again, I would assist the airline. It is Jamaica's and there is nothing I wouldn't do for my country."
Stewart attended Campion College and so did his son, Sandals CEO, Adam Stewart. Campion has announced plans to construct a new library, which is expected to come in at a cost of US$700,000. It will be named after the chairman of the Jamaica Observer's deceased son Jonathan Stewart, who also attended Campion College.
The Stewart family will be putting up US$350,000, half the total cost of the new library, with the remainder expected to come from the school's alumni.
'Butch' Stewart continues to give active support to over 100 projects and to many other organisations throughout Jamaica. His philanthropic efforts recall those noble efforts by some of the United States'great families of business the Carnegies, the Melons and the Rockefellers.
Over the last three years, Sandals has given away over US$11 million in charitable donations throughout the Caribbean. Early this year, the Sandals Foundation was launched and it has already raised just under US$1 million in charitable contributions. The Sandals Foundation is headed by Heidi Clarke, and focuses on three main areas: education, the environment and local communities.
'Butch' Stewart's largesse has been recognised through several awards. In 1992 he received the Martin Luther King Humanitarian award. He has been designated as a Paul Harris Fellow (Rotary International's highest award) and he has received two national awards, namely the Order of Jamaica and Commander of the Order of Distinction.
Speaking with Caribbean Business Report last night, Mahfood said: "I'd like to thank 'Butch' Stewart and his family for the graciousness they have shown.
'Butch' Stewart sees the needs of the country and always responds. He was not hesitant in coming forward in helping Campion College. He is an amazing Jamaican.
I sincerely hope that our alumni, who number some of the country's leading business personalities, will follow Butch Stewart's lead and come to the aid of Campion College."