Close to 300 of Bermuda’s elders turned out in their Sunday best yesterday for Progressive Labour Party (PLP) MP Zane DeSilva’s 12th Annual Seniors Tea Party at Bermuda Institute’s School Hall.
Among those gathered for the festive event was 97-year-old Ms Eleanor Dillas, who was honoured for being the oldest senior in the room this year.
Seen here on the right, with the blue jacket and red shirt, Ms Dillas, who has lived in Constituency 29 Southampton East all of her life, told Bermuda Real that she looks forward to this event every year, and that she has been “coming regularly from the very beginning”.
It was from humble beginnings that this tea party for the elders started 12 years ago at the Heron Bay School. Since then, it has moved to the school hall at Bermuda Institute, to accommodate the large number of seniors who attend this event annually.
The hall, fully decked out with the PLP’s colour green decorations and party favours also a large cake with a green marble cake served for dessert with other sweet treats. The party, held from 2pm to 5pm, saw an afternoon filled with fun games and prices auctioned off using fake dollar bills.
One man was thrilled to win the bid for a $50 grocery voucher for $10,000 out of those ‘make believe’ dollars handed out to the audience.
The prizes included travel vouchers and a host of useful household goods, like dish cloths and kitchen clocks. The only rule was that you had to be 65 or over to get in the game, which left this reporter sidelined for most of the games – a small price to pay to see so many seniors gathered in one place.
Mr DeSilva, the MC for the event, acknowledged the hard work of his branch committee, headed up by newly elected Chairman Shawn Simons, whose mother was called to the stage for recognition for the hard work of her son.
The Minister noted that Mr Simons is a hard working entrepreneur who owns and operates his own air conditioning business. After three years in business, Mr DeSilva asked the audience to give Mr Simons a big round of applause for expanding the business to the point where he now has three trucks and staff on the road doing business.
He also thanked the branch committee for the hard work they put in every year to make the annual seniors tea a success.
A branch spokesman said it’s a full day of hard work to pull this party off without a hitch.
“The Executive team of Constituency 29 started at 9am to actually set up in order to start the Tea Party for 2pm, even though we know our seniors are always there hours before. And they make it very clear they don’t mind waiting for those doors to open,” she said.
“Then of course it’s also making sure everything is packed up once the Tea Party is done, which we all take part in. Unfortunately, last night was a little different because Mr DeSilva and his family had to go to the Mirrors Graduation, which was very touching.”
Mr DeSilva’s wife, Joanne, who also attended the graduation ceremony last night said: “It totally had me in tears.”
Their son, Zane Junior was also on hand for the seniors event yesterday. Mr and Mrs DeSilva also have a daughter, Zarah and four grandchildren, Sienna, Haile, Roman and Isla.
Sponsors for the annual seniors tea this year included Arnold’s Markets, BGA, the MarketPlace, World Travel, Lindo’s, former Premier Dr Ewart Brown and his wife Wanda Brown, Tangles, Anni Nails and the Corporation of Hamilton.
To all of the sponsors this year, the branch spokeswoman extended a big thank you and said: “These are the folks that make this happen.”
MP DeSilva replaced then retired incumbent and former Speaker of the House, Stanley Lowe in 2007. The areas of Constituency 29 includes Middle Road, Plumber Lane, Camp Hill, Spice Hill Road, Sun Valley Road, Horseshoe Road, Scenic Heights Pass and more.
Mr DeSilva was appointed Minister Without Portfolio in December 2009 and was appointed Minister of Health in 2010.
He is the President and CEO of Island Construction Services Limited (ICS), one of Bermuda’s largest and longest established construction companies.
He is also a Life Member of Watford Sports Club, Somerset Bridge Recreation Club, St David’s Cricket Club, East End Mini-Yacht Club and the Bermuda Athletic Association.
As Minister of Sports and Social Development, his sporting achievements include representing Bermuda in Track & Field (Cross Country), in Snooker at the Golf World Championship in Venezuala in 1994, and is know for his philanthropic activities.