Commissioner Bruce Zagers (right) reading the inscription on the Visionary Award for Captain Leo Chance, with former Commissioner and Saban historian Will Johnson (left).
SABA--Former Netherlands Antilles Minister Leo Chance was honoured on Tuesday, November 8, with a Visionary Award on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Capt. Leo A.I. Chance Pier at Saba’s Fort Bay Harbour and Chance’s 90th birthday.
It was exactly 50 years ago Tuesday that then-Minister Chance performed the official opening of the pier. At the time, he personally moored the vessel Antilia alongside the pier. The 65-metre cargo and passenger ship, owned by the Netherlands Antilles government, made monthly trips between the Leeward and Windward Islands.
As a minister, Chance was instrumental in the decision-taking and the securing of the necessary funding to construct the pier. He performed the official opening on November 8, 1972, on his 40th birthday. He celebrated his 90th birthday in Medellín, Colombia, on Tuesday in the presence of his family and friends.
To commemorate this joyous occasion, the public entity Saba presented a Visionary Award to Chance. Present to receive the award on Chance’s behalf was former Saba Commissioner and local historian Will Johnson.
Master of Ceremonies harbour master Travis Johnson welcomed to the brief ceremony the guests, who included Island Governor Jonathan Johnson and Island Council Members Carl Buncamper and Vito Charles.
“Every day we experience that this [the pier – Ed.] is Saba’s lifeline. It creates opportunities for economic development for our island. When the harbour has to close because of a hurricane, we notice how much we really depend on the pier. I am proud to be a part of this Saba part and of this team,” said Johnson.
Former harbour master and current Commissioner Bruce Zagers explained that the initial plan was to present the award to Chance during the community anniversary celebration on Sunday, November 6, but due to the bad weather it was decided ahead to postpone the event until this coming Sunday, November 13.
“Seeing that this was such a joyous occasion, we decided to still do something for Mr. Chance today [Tuesday] on the anniversary date and on his 90th birthday,” said Zagers. “Mr. Chance was the visionary behind the pier and he lobbied to get the funding. This pier is the lifeline for Saba. It is where most of our food and goods come in. We are going to build a new harbour, but Mr. Chance will be pleased to hear that the pier that he spearheaded will remain as a cargo facility.”
Will Johnson received the Visionary Award with pride. “I was so proud when the [Chance] family asked me to accept the award on their behalf. Mr. Chance is in Medellín, where his son Julian lives, and it is good to know that he is doing well. I am glad that he shared a message at the end of the documentary,” Johnson said.
A short documentary with Will Johnson about Saba’s harbour, the construction of the pier and Saba’s transportation history was launched on Tuesday.
“The harbour has always played and to this day plays such an important role, and it has meant a lot for Saba’s development. Much money was invested in it and it has paid off,” said Johnson.
The community event to celebrate the pier’s 50th anniversary will take place at the Fort Bay Harbour this Sunday, November 13, 10:00am to 3:00pm. The public is invited to attend. After the official part, which starts at 10:00am, there will be food, drinks and entertainment.