The name of Anguillian Jurist, the late Dame Dr Bernice V Lake QC, lives on through a Memorial Award in Anguilla and a Law Scholarship in the region, administered through the Anguilla Bar Association.

On Tuesday, January 20, leading members of the Bar and family members of the late legal luminary, gathered at the Edison L Hughes Library & Education Complex for the presentation of the third Memorial Award to the Top CAPE Law student in Anguilla for 2014. That recipient is Ms Mia Hughes who was accompanied by her mother, Ms Heather Wallace.

Ms. Yvette Wallace presenting award to Ms. Mia Hughes with Mrs Josephine Gumbs-Connor
Mia Hughes and mother Heather Wallace

Mia, whose father is Mr Sydney Hughes, is expected to travel to England in September where she plans to study Business Management. At present she has been serving as Human Resources Coordinator at Viceroy Anguilla.

President of the Anguilla Bar, Ms Yvette Wallace, paid tribute to the late Dame Bernice describing her as having been a distinguished lady who served Anguilla and the wider Caribbean. “She displayed an unyielding commitment to secure a climate of constitutionalism in her region,” Ms Wallace said in part.

Members of Dame Bernice’s family and The Anguilla Bar Association with Mia Hughes and Mother, Heather Wallace

“Her campaign on social justice and the protection of human rights has worked relentlessly. She made a profound contribution to the Caribbean jurisprudence in these areas. She was also very busy in grassroots movements in her communities of Anguilla, Antigua and St Kitts, as she demonstrated her commitment to the type of matters that she took on and she fought vigorously.”

Ms Wallace recalled that in 2011 the Anguilla Bar Association thought it fitting to recognise Dame Bernice for her contribution, not only to Anguilla, but also to the wider Caribbean. “In that year, we honoured her by establishing the Dame Dr Bernice Lake QC Scholarship Fund,” she stated. “The purpose of that Fund was to provide funding, on an annual basis, for this Award as well as for a Regional Scholarship…The annual scholarship is open to nationals of the Commonwealth Caribbean who have gained admission to the University of the West Indies – Cave Hill Campus – to read for a degree in law and who had completed the first year of the programme, including the course Constitutional Law. The scholarship is based on academic merit and is awarded to the student who attained the best mark in Constitutional Law for that year and who also attained a minimum G P A of 3.4. The scholarship, which is for a period of up to two years, is valued at US$2,500 per annum.”

The third recipient of the scholarship for 2013/2014 is Mr Stuart Beckford, a Jamaican national. Thus there have been three scholarship awards: one each for nationals in Trinidad, Barbados and Jamaica at a cost of US $12,500 since 2012. The scholarship money was provided by donors and from various fundraising events.
During the glass award and gift presentation to Mia Hughes (the former Sixth Form top CAPE Law Student), Mrs Josephine Gumbs-Connor, Vice President of the Bar Association, also paid tribute to Dame Bernice. She referred to two aspects of her life which she thought Ms Hughes would feel proud to emulate. One was Dame Bernice’s preparation for court and other matters; and the other aspect was thoroughness of her work. Mrs Gumbs-Connor commended Ms Hughes for demonstrating a level of intellectual capacity and urged her to research the life and work of Dame Bernice.

Responding, Mia Hughes said in part: “I was pleasantly surprised upon learning that I was the recipient of the 2014 award. It is truly a reflection of my hard work and commitment to CAPE Law over the past two years. This award is not only a personal achievement but rather an affirmation that I am on the road to success as Dame Dr Bernice Lake QC was really an outstanding individual who led an exemplary life, and who became one of the most instrumental public figures in Anguilla and the region.”

Mia was grateful to retired High Court Judge, Mr Don Mitchell, her CAPE Law tutor.
Mr George L Kentish spoke on behalf of his late Aunt and the rest of the Lake & Kentish families. He expressed the families’ appreciation to the Anguilla Bar Association for establishing the Memorial Award and Scholarship in honour of “a very humble, simple, daughter of the soil.” He mentioned a number of his Aunt’s fine qualities as a distinguished lawyer and her passion for law and fearless defence of her clients. He called on members of the Bar to continue to demonstrate a level of professionalism that would provide confidence for their clients; and he wished Ms Hughes much success in her forthcoming studies.

Other speakers were Ms Jean Dyer, Secretary of the Anguilla Bar Association, who delivered the welcome remarks; and Ms Merline Barrett, Council Member of the Bar, who gave the Vote of Thanks.