Governor general, JHTA hail Merrick Needham

GOVERNOR General Sir Patrick Allen and the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) have hailed logistics and protocol consultant Merrick Needham for his invaluable contribution to Jamaica over many years, describing him as the “go-to man” for “correctness” in the staging of State, national and international events.

Needham, who passed away in hospital on December 29, 2022, six days after marking is 89th birthday, had arrived in Jamaica as a seven-year-old evacuee from the Nazi bombing of London in World War II in 1940.

He was Jamaica’s principal logistic, ceremonial and protocol consultant for more than four decades, his work ranging from large banquets to major international conferences with up to 2,400 participants.

He was chief executive officer (conferences) at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London from 1980 to 1983, during which he serviced and partially coordinated heads of government and ministerial-level conferences in a dozen countries on every continent except Antarctica.

Expressing surprise and sadness at Needham’s passing, Sir Patrick said that he was highly respected and knowledgeable on matters of protocol and had a very close relationship with King’s House, providing invaluable advice to successive governors general.

He noted that Needham was awarded the Order of Distinction (Commander Class) for his contribution over many years to the Office of the Governor General and the Government of Jamaica; was a Member of the Royal Victorian Order; and received The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2018 for his contribution to all six of Queen Elizabeth’s visits to Jamaica.

“He received the Order of Distinction (Officer Class) for outstanding logistical coordination and organisation of the relief effort following the Flora flood rains in 1976. His expert advice was relied on by local and regional public and private sector organisations in the planning and execution of events,” the governor general stated.

He also noted that in 2018 Needham became the first Jamaican to receive an honorary commission from the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) with which he worked integrally in publications, the production of military events, and the establishment of the military museum.

That commission granted Needham the rank of Colonel (Hon).

The JHTA, in its tribute, described Needham as “a true patriot who steered Jamaica for decades along the path of ‘correctness’ for State and national events, international conferences, and special occasions”.

Added the JHTA, “Many leaders of the island’s diplomatic corps, corporate executives, government representatives, and event planning specialists owe their proficiency to Merrick Needham who was well regarded as the go-to man whenever there was a question or uncertainty about correct form and protocol.

“His planning and management skills were also legendary, including his penchant for using military 24-hour times — a nod to his long association with the Jamaica Defence Force,” the JHTA said.

“Merrick unselfishly shared his knowledge and experience working in England and Jamaica with successive governments, ensuring there were no missteps as we welcomed royalty, heads of state and other dignitaries attending conferences and national events.

“In many ways he was one of Jamaica’s most constant tourism ambassadors as he supported the JHTA and other Caribbean tourism entities in mounting major high-level events. Thankfully, Merrick has left a legacy of trained nationals who continue in his footsteps,” the JHTA said.

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