WOMAN IN CHARGE: Dr. Dunwell accepts her instrument of appointment from Sir Patrick Allen during Thursday's ceremony.
After 49 years of marriage and serving organizations as diverse as the Stella Maris Foundation, the Board of Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities and the Stony Hill community training centre for girls, Dr. Patricia Ann Marshall Dunwell (a mother of two and grandmother of two) has learned what it takes to build strong families and even stronger communities. For her, it’s about holding fast to the simple courtesies.
“We build stronger families by caring for one another, learning how to forgive and learning to be real peacemakers. As soon as a quarrel develops you find a solution instead of allowing the situation to escalate. Going back to the old days of raising children right, we used to have ‘aunties’ and ‘uncles’ all around. It was never just my child or your child. As the saying goes, it takes a village,” she tells TALLAWAH, moments after being sworn in as the new Custos Rotolorum of St. Andrew, an important office to which she brings a wealth of experience, passion for making a difference and can-do spirit.
The swearing-in ceremony, attended by a who’s who of Jamaican government officials, colleagues and well-wishers, was held on the grounds of the Hope Botanical Gardens on Thursday afternoon. “I feel both honoured and humbled for the trust that has been placed in me, by appointing me to the office of Custos, and I am committed to working diligently and efficiently to execute the duties of this high office,” she said in her response to the appointment.
As Custos, Mrs. Dunwell is the chief magistrate and the Governor General’s representative in the parish, presiding over a lay magistrate body comprised of approximately 1,500 Justices of the Peace. “I urge and request the JPs and the business community to assist you with support, as you discharge your responsibilities, thus making this a successful tenure for you and the parish,” noted Governor General Sir Patrick Allen addressing Thursday’s ceremony. “I am placing in your hands all the Justices of the Peace of St. Andrew. Take care of them and they will take care of you,” he added.
A successful dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon (since 1990), who has given almost 20 years of service to the Kingston Public Hospital, Dr. Dunwell says her vision for the future development of the parish is nothing complex. “As your new Custos, [the role] comes with many areas of responsibility, but I am committed to the promotion of heightened mediation and conflict resolution across this diverse parish, helping our communities be the best they can be.”
The spirit of volunteerism, she says, is alive and well in the parish and Jamaica at large, and she remains hopeful that it will continue to play a vital role in the creation of ‘a better Jamaica’ – nation-building and family life fortified through the sharing of time, talent and treasure.