Address at the Celebration of Frank Hilton's Life and Organisation
September 25, 2020 Hilton Special School, Waimanu Road, Suva.
The Permanent Secretary for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Ms. Jennifer Poole;
Representatives from the Fiji National Council for Persons with Disabilities;
The President and Board of the Frank Hilton Organisation;
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Ni sa bula vinaka, Noa’ia e Mauri, Namaste, Asalaamu Alaykum and a Very Good Afternoon to
Ladies and gentlemen, it is such an honour and great pleasure for me to attend today’s commemorative event – to honour and celebrate the life and work of the late Mr. Frank Hilton, and I would like to thank the President and Board of The Frank Hilton Organisation for kindly inviting me to participate and officiate in this important historical event.
Furthermore, we are gathered here today to pay tribute and homage to the legacy and memories of a great man, a humble and selfless man who will be fondly remembered and revered by Family, Colleagues and Friends as the, “Father of Special Education in Fiji” or “Granddad or Momo”.
I understand that Mr. Hilton arrived in Fiji on the 1st of April 1967 and was seconded to the Fiji Education Department as Head Teacher of the ‘Suva Crippled Children’s School’, which was funded and operated under the auspicious of the Commonwealth Cooperation on Education Scheme. It was at this time that he began his tireless advocacy work with children living with disabilities or as we would prefer to refer to them at the State House as children or individuals with Determination.
Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Hilton’s entire work were mainly focussed in his passion to ensure that these children receive the appropriate education and training to improve their self-confidence and physical capabilities to enable them to enjoy life to their full potential and be successful and productive members of their respective families and the community in general.
During the course of his work, Mr. Hilton also managed to travel to many Pacific Island Nations and was instrumental in setting up training programmes for teachers throughout the Pacific which is a hallmark of his passion and determination to assist those children who are less fortunate locally and regionally.
Ladies and gentlemen, the name of Frank Hilton within the Education and Service Provider organisations in the Pacific is today synonymous with Disability Advocacy. The late Mr. Hilton’s work was duly recognised when he was deservedly awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) before he was subsequently presented with the Companion of the Order of Fiji (CF) medal, under the Fiji Honours/Awards System.
As President/Head of State, please allow me at this juncture to refer you to the provisions of Chapter 2 (Bill of Rights), Section 42(2) of our Constitution:, “A person with any disability has the right to reasonable adaptation of buildings, infrastructure, vehicles, working arrangements, rules, practices or procedures, to enable their full participation in society and the effective realisation of their rights”.
Ladies and gentlemen, the late Mr. Frank Hilton has left a proud legacy of loyalty and dedicated service to this nation and we should be most grateful and appreciative of his great work in ensuring that we the parents and leaders of today are mindful of the needs of those who are less fortunate in our society.
I have been reliably informed as well that the Frank Hilton Organisation staff continues to promote and improve upon Mr. Hilton’s ideals and vision and in this regard, I would like to wish them well and every success in the Frank Hilton Organisation’s future endeavours.
To the Chief Executive Officer – Ms. Sureni Perera and your hardworking Staff, I am confident that you have drawn great inspiration from what Mr. Frank Hilton had done over the years and that you would remain focussed, grounded and true to the values he held dear and the founding principles of the Suva Branch of the Fiji Crippled Children’s society which is today known as the Frank Hilton Organisation.
Frank Hilton’s great work was influenced by qualities and values that are now endorsed as the guiding principles of the Frank Hilton Organisation, these values being:
1. Developing Local Capacity;
2. Early Detection;
3. Early Intervention through a family centered approach; and
4. Selfless Service and Humility.
At the core of the Frank Hilton Foundation Vision and psyche is the drive and pursuit to Educate, Empower, Uplift, Uphold, our children who have limitations or children with determination so that they can live and enjoy a normal life like their contemporaries.
Ladies and gentlemen, it would be remiss of me if I do not also commend and thank the Attorney General, Honourable Minister and the Ministry of Economy, Honourable Minister and the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation and the Honourable Minister and the Ministry of Education, National Heritage & Arts for their respective Ministrys’ contributions to the Organisation over the years in support of its purpose and cause. Your collective contributions towards the Frank Hilton Organisation and the Education and Empowerment of our people with determination is testimony to our Government’s commitment to “Leave No One Behind”.
Ladies and gentlemen, in conclusion I would like to acknowledge and commend the tireless efforts of the Organising Committee Members for this afternoon’s successful and historic celebration of the life and contributions of a good man and servant of the people.
May God Bless you all and bless our beloved Nation.
Vinaka Vakalevu, Dhanyavaad, Sukria, Faiek’sia and Thank you.