Ayo Johnson, Photograph by Oliver Tucker.
Award of Excellence
Veteran journalist Ayo Johnson has always been passionate about politics and human rights and has fought for both with equal fervor. The judges chose Johnson for the Award of Excellence for bringing the concept of investigative journalism to the forefront of Bermuda. “In a year that's seen the closing of two major media outlets—Bermuda Sun and VSB—he's one of the only local reporters that demands accountability of our politicians in everything he writes,” stated one judge. He was also cited for his landmark piece “Selling Bermuda” on the Jetgate scandal which took him six months to investigate and write and resulted in the resignation of a sitting Premier. Through his digital journal Politica, Johnson continues to publish well-researched and in-depth content on a variety of, and often highly controversial, political issues. As one judge summed up, “In a nutshell, he's a TRUE journalist in every sense of the word.”
News Event of the Year
Even Olivia Pope wouldn’t have been able to save Premeir Craig Cannonier from his inevitable resignation after the Jetgate scandal was exposed. After months of speculation, evidence of unauthorised donations, allegations of “quid pro quo agreements” and the now infamous private jet flight that started it all, local media outlets had enough to report on last year to create a mini-series about the on-going event.
2015 (non) AG Show
The on-again, off-again 2015 Ag Show was a huge disappointment to all islanders and a major blunder by the OBA government who first decided to cancel the highly anticipated annual event “due to financial reasons.” A group, spearheaded by Warwick West MP Jeff Sousa then launched an initiative to put on the event but soon announced that government had notified them that they could not have the Thursday, April 16, through Saturday, April 18, dates they requested but instead could only have Saturday, April 18, and Sunday, April 19. The group then decided to cancel the event followed by a collective groan from the entire island.
Pit Bull Politician
Known for their tenacity and ability to fight, Pit Bulls often get a bad rap, whether they deserve it or not. Our judges felt no politician fit this description better than outspoken (and occasionally controversial—remember the ganja tea he says he gave his daughter?), PLP leader Marc Bean. Never one to shy away from the spotlight, Bean has been candid on a number of topics—from permanent residents to protecting democracy—even through several attempts to muzzle him.
Michael Fahy, Photograph by Scott Tucker.
Most Effective Politician
As the Minister of Home Affairs, Junior Minister of Finance and the Government Leader in the Senate, Michael Fahy is probably one of the busiest politicians on the hill. With responsibilities for the departments of immigration, planning, workforce development, rent commission, consumer affairs and the registry general as well as administrative responsibility for the municipalities, parish councils and the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation, we’re not sure how he finds time to breathe, never mind eat lunch every day. But being busy doesn’t always make one effective—however, improved immigration policies and the temporary but much appreciated 10 per cent off groceries on Wednesdays will go a long way to making him effective in our books.
Shadow Minister in the Limelight
As Deputy Leader of the PLP and Shadow Finance Minister, David Burt has never shied away from the spotlight—speaking out publicly on many topics, especially finance. But the minister shines brightest during lengthy parliamentary sessions while quietly tweeting away his commentary on the action to his nearly 500 followers. Follow @DavidBurtMP and you won’t be disappointed.
It was swift and bloodless, but our judges felt that the former deputy premier Michael Dunkley being sworn in as premier before most of the island had even heard that Craig Cannonier had resigned was a coup nonetheless.
The guys behind last year’s ultra-popular Happy Bermuda video have partnered with the Bermuda Tourism Authority for a series of #LoveMyBermuda videos. Designed to inspire locals and visitors alike, the short videos follow a number of people doing what they love most in Bermuda—from spearfishing lobsters to creating pottery, playing music and even boxing. Once again, the talented team at Burnt House Productions has made us proud to be Bermudian!
Good Corporate Citizen
Butterfield & Vallis
Not only is it one of the most essential companies on the island (it is a major food distributor after all), Butterfield & Vallis is also an award-worthy corporate citizen, say our judges. Citing their sponsorship of charity events, their hosting of the Annual Butterfield & Vallis 5K race and their commitment to the wellbeing of their staff, our panel felt the company most lived up to its mission: “To serve the community of Bermuda and contribute to and share in its success.” (27 Woodlands Road, Hamilton, tel: 295-3434 & 12 Orange Valley, Devonshire, tel: 236-6688, http://www.butterfieldandvallis.com)
Dr. Neil Burnie, Photograph by John Manderson.
Booster for the Environment
Dr. Neil Burnie
Bermuda mourned the loss of one of our greatest environment boosters when popular veterinarian Dr. Neil Burnie passed away tragically last year. He left behind an impressive legacy, however, as his unrivaled passion and enthusiasm for Bermuda’s marine wildlife had caught the attention of an international film crew, and there are 12 episodes of his Ocean Vet series slated to air this year. His fearlessness in swimming with tiger sharks, whales and other, potentially dangerous, ocean creatures will do much to change the perception of—and hopefully protect—Bermuda’s marine life for which he so valiantly fought.
Yes, they are as disgusting as they sound—balls of sewage surrounded by grease that floated in to local beaches from the Seabright sewage outfall some 700 metres offshore to the west of Hungry Bay. These sewage balls washed up onto Grape Bay and the eastern section of Elbow Beach several times last year, resulting in an embarrassing public warning from the US consul general stating that tourists should get hepatitis A and typhoid immunizations prior to swimming in Bermuda’s south shore waters. Perhaps even more disturbing than the warning was the government’s lack of action to fix this ongoing problem.
Relentless in his appeals to reform Bermuda’s “archaic” medical marijuana laws, activist Alan Gordon has been keen to educate politicians and the general public on the topic through confrontations with the premier during a presentation at PechaKucha Night and on Carla Zuill’s television talk show, Straight Talk, last year. His mission is to make the plant affordable and safe for gravely ill patients and to secure amnesty for those who grow the “life-saving medicine” for them.
Alpheaus Calvin “Artie’” Black
The list of accolades at his home-going service last year was a testament to the beloved Artie Black, a champion of black empowerment, who gave so much back to his community through his exemplary work ethic and business ethos, his musical genius and his ongoing service to his church, clubs and various government boards and committees. Among his many awards and certificates of appreciation was the MBE which he proudly received at Buckingham Palace in 2004. He will be forever missed and always remembered.
Called to the Bermuda bar in 1995, lawyer Juliana Snelling has the experience and tenacity to tackle the most difficult cases of employment law (her area of expertise), as well as general civil litigation. So if you are disputing an insurance or property claim, dealing with a serious human rights issue or have a personal injury case or a landlord stealing from you, our judges recommend Snelling to handle your case. (Canterbury Law, First Floor, Swan Building
26 Victoria Street, tel: 296-8444, www.canterburylaw.bm)
Cultural Event of the Year
The Neil Burnie Bad Ass Tribute Concert
It was an event fit to celebrate the man who celebrated life like none other! The Neil Burnie Bad Ass Tribute Concert held on November 22 at Pier 6 was a spectacular night filled with unforgettable performances from BONES, Duty Free, Homegrown, Life Sentence, Working Title, Kennel Boys, Graffiti Park and more with Uzimon decked out in wetsuit and flippers as the MC. All in all, it was a fitting tribute to the beloved veterinarian, adventurer and talented musician—one we are sure he would have approved of.
Charity Event of the Year
Family Centre Beach Bash
The fifth annual Family Centre Beach Bash was once again held at the Fairmont Southampton Ocean Club beach last September. The 500+ crowd kicked off their shoes and danced the night away to Working Title along with Ronnie Lopes and the Secrets Band, while a special performance by former X Factor contestants AKNU topped off the night. Raising funds for Bermuda’s children while dancing all night on the sand—could there be a better fundraiser? We don’t think so!
New Bermudjian Word
As in: “What do you want to do today, son?” “Anydeeng.” Or “What would you like for dinner tonight?” “Anydeeng.” Pretty much the only answer you might get from your teenager, regardless of the question.
Calix Smith, Photograph by Ann Spurling.
Sometimes controversial, always thought-provoking, contemporary urban artist Calix Smith has stormed onto the art scene with his powerful installation shows at Bermuda College, as a founding member of the collective group Bermuda Artists Rise Up (BARU), and with various showings of his work at BSOA, Masterworks, Rock Island Coffee and Common Ground Café. Using his art as a means of social commentary on tough topics like gun crime and local politics makes Smith a standout in our books.
Makeem “Haz” Bartley
Performing as Haz the Human, Bartley is steadily making a name for himself on the island’s music scene and got the attention of our judges after the release of his latest album, Staying Local. Describing it as his “love letter and tribute to Bermuda,” the young rapper dedicated the album to the island, keeping everything from the lyrics to the production 100 per cent local. With creative lyrics, beautiful harmonisation and a performance style all his own, we are sure to expect even greater things from Haz the Human in the future.
She may be small in stature (standing at only five foot three), but Flora Duffy is already a giant in the world of women’s triathlon. The world’s XTERRA Triathlon champion, Duffy has made a name for herself and helped put Bermuda on the map recently with spectacular performances among the world’s most elite athletes—including an impressive third place podium finish at the International Triathlon Union’s World Cup Series in Abu Dhabi this past March.
Honourable Mention—Jessica Lewis
Choosing not to put “dis” in front of her “abilities,” para-athlete Jessica Lewis continues to inspire with her immense determination and focused training in her sport of wheelchair track racing. We look forward to cheering her on as she focuses on the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games.
Popular Mid-Atlantic Athletic Club (MAAC) coach Steve Burgess has taught over 3,000 athletes over the last two and a half decades, including the likes of Olympic triathletes Flora Duffy and Tyler Butterfield. The former 800-metre Bermuda record holder—a record he held for 25 years—released a book last year (Back to Basics: 25 Years of Coaching, Mentoring, Guiding) to mark his many successful years of coaching which, as a testament to his popularity, had sold out before the official launch.
Spectator Sports Event
Bermuda Triple Challenge
Climbing over buses, under barbed wire and through the mud, sand and water was an adventure challenge like none other in Bermuda. The three-day obstacle course series held this past March featured an urban foot race in St. George’s, a south shore beach race, along with the assault course at Warwick Camp, and the final Royal Challenge at Dockyard—all to raise funds for charity. And while the competitors were soaked to the bone or covered in mud during the races, the spectators were having almost as much fun cheering them on! (www.bermudatriplechallenge.com)
Turning 30 is a big deal in the life of a young person and actress Nishanthi Bailey decided to celebrate it in a big way. Her $30,000 30th: A Theatrical Theatre Project aimed to raise money for local charities by performing a one-woman play, Chain, written by celebrated playwright Pearl Cleage last year. Producing, directing and acting in the play all on her own, Bailey was spectacular in the role of Rosa—a 16-year-old crack addict chained to the radiator by her father in an attempt to cure her after rehabilitation failed. We can’t wait to see what is next from this talented thespian!
A simple animated green safe, Safe Clafe, has an opinion on all things Bermudian in true local vernacular. Created by the Bermemes characters, he’s a thespian (“To drink, perchance on de beach: ah, durr lies de rum”), a true St. George’s supporter (“De sun rises in de east, is neutral over Tahn, and sets in de west”), and a political commentator like none other (“Lass Friday in de HoA, some bies were actin mug, wheyn PLP’s Shark Spleen did say: ‘I gave my daughter drugs.’ De critics asked him, up in arms: ‘You gave her ganja tea?!?’ Yaboy replied wif ample charm: ‘Yamon, when she was three.’”) (www.bermemes.com)
Due to some roof damage from last year’s hurricanes, the annual Christmas pantomime had to relocate from its traditional home in City Hall to the Ruth Seaton James Auditorium. But that did not take away one bit from the rollicking fun of The Pied Piper (oh, no it didn’t!) for children and adults alike. There was candy and sing-alongs, shouts and hisses throughout the crowd-pleasing performance lead by director Kelvin Hastings-Smith.
With great equipment, lots of space and one of the most family-friendly beaches on the island right there, Shelly Bay is our judges’ choice as the best playground for the kiddies to burn off some energy while mom and dad relax in the shade.
Good Friday KiteFest
From traditional family recipe codfish cakes and hot cross buns to homemade kites, Good Friday is definitely a favourite family holiday for Bermudians. And from the very young to the very old, our judges say the best place to bring the whole crew and celebrate is the annual KiteFest, organised by the Chewstick Foundation at Horseshoe Bay. With kite and codfish cake competitions, live local entertainment and even an Easter egg hunt, the day was filled with wholesome family fun.
Place to Enjoy Nature
Tom Moore’s Jungle
Native plants and trees, spectacular vistas, secret cave entrances—Tom Moore’s Jungle (aka The Walsingham Nature Reserve) is one of Bermuda’s true hidden gems. With 12 acres of pristinely preserved, privately owned land open year round to the public, it is a nature explorer’s dream: no posted signs, no tour guides, no entrance fees or tacky gift shops hawking key chains and postcards. Just Mother Nature and you. (Walsingham Lane, Bailey's Bay, Hamilton Parish)
Fort Scaur, Photograph by Scott Tucker.
Pack your picnic basket and head up to Fort Scaur this weekend to enjoy the summer breeze and stunning panoramic views over the Great Sound and Ely’s Harbour. With 22 acres of lovely gardens to explore there are plenty of great places to lay out a blanket and dine with your loved ones. Sunsets over Ely’s Harbour are particularly spectacular. (Scaur Hill, Sandys)
Hidden behind Albert Row at the western end of Cochrane Road in Sandy’s, the difficult to find—but fascinating to visit—Convict Cemetery is an intriguing slice of Bermuda history. Maintained by the Bermuda National Trust, the cemetery was the burial ground for the convicts brought to Bermuda from England in the nineteenth century to construct the Dockyard and build other fortifications. Out of over 2,000 individuals who died (mostly due to the yellow fever epidemic) there are only 13 marked graves—only four of them bearing a person’s name.
Bermuda Fun Golf.
Place to Play a Round of Golf
Bermuda Fun Golf
The whole family can get together to play a challenging 18 holes in about an hour at Bermuda Fun Golf. Featuring replicas of some of the best golf holes in Bermuda, the US and Scotland, the mini golf course is as much fun for the seasoned golfer as it is for the youngest members of the family. (Royal Naval Dockyard, Sandys, tel: 400-PUTT (7888), www.fungolf.bm)
Place to Fall in Love
Pristine beaches, crystal-clear water, deserted islands to explore—everything about the islands near Castle Roads is romantic. You’ll need a boat to get there and some refreshments to stay for a while, but we promise all the preparations will be worth the effort if love it what you are looking for.
Place to Dump a Lover
Barr’s Bay Park
On the other hand, if you wish to dump your lover, our judges say Barr’s Bay Park is just the spot—not too public to be embarrassing, not too private to be frightening and plenty of ways to get out.
Breezes at Cambridge Beaches.
Place for a Discreet Rendezvous
Get far away from it all at Breezes at the Cambridge Beaches Resort. The waterfront restaurant offers the finest alfresco dining and spectacular sunset views, and is far enough from the beaten path that you and your date might actually get some private time. (Cambridge Beaches Resort & Spa, 30 Kings Point Road, Sandys, tel: 234-0331, www.cambridgebeaches.com)
Place to Propose
Cliffs Overlooking Horseshoe Bay
Climbing to the top of the cliffs overlooking Bermuda’s most acclaimed beach for spectacular views is enough to make a girl swoon, but turning around to find her beau on one knee, ring in hand? Perfection.
Wedding Reception Location
From cocktails at Sea Breeze Lounge to a formal sit down dinner in Café Lido and then dancing the night away at the Deep, the Lido Complex at Elbow Beach Hotel is the perfect spot for any type of wedding celebration. With beautiful Elbow Beach right there for the wedding ceremony itself, formal photos afterwards or simply a romantic stroll at midnight, our judges decided the Lido Complex just had it all to make any couple’s dream wedding come true. (Elbow Beach Hotel Sea Terrace, 60 South Shore Road, Paget, tel: 236-9884, www.lido.bm)
Not only is it the historic resting place for the heart of Sir George Somers for whom the park is named, Somers Garden is a beautiful well-manicured public garden providing a perfect little rest spot in the middle of St. George’s—with plenty of shade for hot summer days. Grab some delicious takeout from one of the nearby restaurants, take your loved one and kiss under the moon gate.
Attraction for Visitors
TIE: Calico Jack’s & Vixen Shipwreck
Bermuda has been called the “Shipwreck Capital of the World” many times over, and there is good reason—our treacherous reefs have snagged many a wayward boat over our 400 years of settlement. One of the most spectacular and popular sites to visit is the HMS Vixen shipwreck where fish are regularly fed and plentiful. For a list of ways to get there via glass bottom boat tour, snorkeling or Jet Ski adventure, try islandtourcentre.com.
For visitors looking to take in a little island night life, our judges recommend Calico Jack’s—the only floating bar in Bermuda located at Heritage Wharf, Dockyard. The pirate ship has everything you need for a memorable night out—TVs, music, two full bars and lots and lots of rum! (Heritage Wharf, Dockyard, tel: 504-5225)
People Watching Perch
Devil’s Isle Café Patio
The alfresco seating outside the new Devil’s Isle Café on Burnaby Street (the former La Baguette Delicatessen/Café Continental) is hugely popular with the lunchtime crowd for its delicious food, great service and perfect location for checking out anyone and everyone walking or driving by. (19 Burnaby Street, Hamilton, tel: 292-3284)
Veteran journalist Ayo Johnson has for years sought to reveal the greater truth in all the important local issues—from politics to human rights and beyond. His relentless drive to get the full story has made him one of the most respected reporters on the island, even when it has made him one of the least popular. As one of our judges stated, “He's one of the only local reporters who demands accountability of our politicians in everything he writes.”
Columnist Jonathan Starling has been sharing his educated opinion on all matters of local issues—including everything from breed-specific legislation to same-sex marriage, cabinet shuffles, the casino gaming act and more—since 2007 when he first set up his blog “Catch a Fire” as an alternative political voice. The social research and policy analyst who ran as an independent candidate in the 2012 general election currently shares his discourses regularly on Bernews. Catch his latest insight at jonnystar.wordpress.com.
There are a fair number of stations to choose from on the local airwaves these days, but our judges say Bermuda’s one and only reggae station IRIE 98.3 is the best. From Bob Marley to Collie Buddz and everything in between, IRIE is the station for less talk and more chilled-out reggae vibes day and night. Tune in and tune out everything else.
Described as a “lightening rod” by one of our judges, Sherri Simmons is the outspoken host of The Sherri Simmons Show on Magic 102.5 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays. Quick-witted and tireless in her pursuit of the truth, Simmons is committed to “elevating the level of dialogue in Bermuda” as she grills leaders and politicians who are brave enough to engage with her on air, while fielding calls from all strata of society with patience and humility.
Best Source of Local News and Information
Bermuda Election 2012 Facebook Page
It is true these days that most people get more than just photos of their ace girl’s new baby or ace boy’s new bike on Facebook. The social media site is now the go-to place for all the latest news and information—often breaking there before being released on major news sites. If you want to follow the latest on the local political scene, our judges recommend joining the other 1400+ members on the Bermuda Election 2012 page. (https://www.facebook.com/groups/270753586334003/)
DJ Rusty G
Cofounder and head DJ of Immortal Vybz Sound, DJ Rusty G (also known as Russell Griffith) has been blazing a trail on the local bar, club and party scene for several years now gaining recognition and fans along the way. Catch his sizzling radio show on Saturdays from 2-6 p.m. on Vibe 103.3 FM.
tel: 337-7877, www.djrustyg.com
Charity/Community Service Organization
WILDCARD: Worst Political Excuse
“We were just bumming a ride…”—See Jetgate.