The British Virgins Islands last week held several special events to both honor and welcome disabled yachtsman Geoff Holt back to the BVI after he became the first quadriplegic sailor to sail alone across the Atlantic Ocean.
Holt’s month-long odyssey brought him back to Cane Garden Bay on Tortola, the site of an accident that, 25 years ago, left him paralyzed from the chest down. Most notably, Premier and Minister of Finance Honorable Ralph T. O’Neal, who is also the minister with responsibility for immigration, conferred upon Holt and his family “honorary belonger” status on January 15 at a short ceremony held at Government House.
“We feel that the memory of this should be engraved in our minds and in our history,” he said. “The Government decided to bestow Honorary Belongership on Geoff, his wife Elaine and his son Mark. It is a prize that is given out sparingly. We think it is something that should be given to persons who have done so much to assist us here and especially in your situation. What Mr. Holt has done for this Territory is priceless and we are grateful.”
Upon receiving the award, Holt said, “I don’t think I could bring into words how grateful I am for the honor you have just bestowed upon us. I am under no illusion just how special it is and we will treasure them very much and will use them as an excuse to come back more often.”