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VIP celebrates 50th anniversary under the theme: “REIGNITE THE VISION”

VIP celebrates 50th anniversary under the theme: “REIGNITE THE VISION”

Just a day after residents celebrated the legacy of the territories first and longest serving Chief Minister. The Virgin Islands Party for which the late Hon. H. Lavity Stoutt was a founding member, is today March 2nd, 2021, celebrating 50 years since the ruling Virgin Islands Party (VIP) has been in existence.
In an official press release, the party said, to commemorate this golden occasion, they have planned a grand Anniversary Gala. This milestone observation has been scheduled for 24th April, 2021 and will be held under the theme “Reignite The Vision.” Chairman of the Virgin Islands Party and Premier Hon. Andrew A. Fahie stated that “This fifty-year celebration is a testament to the strength and resilience of the VIP.”

The Party’s Chairman noted that over the Party’s half-century existence it has seen the Virgin Islands journey from strength to strength. Hon. Fahie said, “The party must be credited for producing visionary leadership and for being at the helm of the development of the Virgin Islands people and its economy.”

The Virgin Islands Party was founded on March 2nd, 1971, after some members decided to part ways with the then United Party, before the Elections of 1971. It was on the basis of putting people first, in addition to the strong urging from political advisors, that a group of ordinary citizens came together, organized, and formed the new party. Founding party members were: Hon. H. Lavity Stoutt, Hon. Terrence B. Lettsome, Hon. Leopold Smith, Mr. Bienvenido Callwood, Mr. Randolph, Mose‟ Malone, Mr. Donald Pickering, Mr. Joseph Skelton, Mr. Erman Fahie and Miss Naomi Turnbull.

On the day of the Party’s inception (2nd March, 1971), the final draft of the Virgin Islands Party Constitution was approved. At a meeting later that evening, the VIP Constitution was signed by the eight non-civil service members and recorded by the secretary.

By the close of the polls in 1971 the Virgin Islands Party had returned Hon. H. Lavity Stoutt and Hon. Rieeial George to the sixth Legislative Council of the Virgin Islands and from then on the Virgin Islands would never be the same.

H. Lavity Stoutt was the founding father and the chairman of the Virgin Islands Party. He continued to lead the party until his death in 1995. After Stoutt‟s death, the leadership of the party transitioned to Ralph T. O,Neal who led it until he stepped down in 2014.

From 1971 until 2014, the Virgin Islands Party had only been led by two men; H. Lavity Stoutt and Ralph T. O‟Neal. The two VIP leaders are also the two longest-serving elected politicians in Virgin Islands history and the first two leaders of the territory to have served more than two terms as either Chief Minister and/or Premier.

On 28 May 2014 Hon. Julian Fraser was elected by the VIP Congress and took over from Ralph T. O‟Neal. On 30th November 2016, Hon. Andrew A. Fahie replaced Julian Fraser as chairman when he was elected by the Congress.

During the lifetime of the Virgin Islands Party, several distinguished members were successful in becoming part of the Legislative Council, now the House of Assembly. Similarly, numerous life-changing legislations, projects, and initiatives were piloted; all resulting in the boast-worthy standard of living the Territory enjoys and these would be highlighted in the 50 days leading up to the celebration gala.

Over the last 50 years, the membership and leadership of the VIP has helped to shape the modern Virgin Islands and has lived up to the Party’s most famous lines — “Forward Ever, Backwards Never!”
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