ORANJESTAD, St. Eustatius (26 April 2023)- Lifelong volunteer Catharine Elzevar Bennett-Francis has been awarded the Order of Orange-Nassau by His Majesty the King for her tireless work for Statia over many years. She received the honour on Wednesday 26 April  2023 at a special ceremony at the Quill Gardens.

Born in St. Kitts and Nevis in 1945, Bennett-Francis - affectionately known as Miss Kathleen, Kate or Katey - came to St. Eustatius as a child. Over the years she was active in the Methodist church, serving as a leader for over six decades. She was president of the Women’s League, an organisation dedicated to the well-being of women of the church. Mrs. Bennett functioned in this role with no reservation. She was also a member of the MCCA, an organisation that also looked after the needs of women.

Mrs. Bennett held the position of leader and assistant class leader for more than 40 years at Bethel, as well as at Jeems where she still serves as an assistant leader. She is part of the Jeems Choir, the Jeems United Sisters, and a care fund steward, and served as a member of the Auxiliary Home Foundation. For many years she coordinated the meals for the work team, a group that came to the island to execute church work. She was also on the fundraising committee where she helped organise food and bake sales.  

Mrs. Bennett  is still very active in the community and often stresses, “we need to safeguard our island, Statia for the next generation.”

The file on her social merits was prepared by family and friends, then by the members of the Royal Decoration Committee of St. Eustatius, by the Government Commissioner and the State representative on Bonaire, and finally by employees of the Chancellery of the Dutch Orders. In a meeting of the Chapter for the Civil Orders, an independent advisory board, a recommendation to the minister was made, leading to the Royal Decoration on behalf of His Majesty King Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands.

During the official ceremony, this year’s Order of Orange-Nassau recipient was addressed by members of the Royal Committee, presided over by Anica Marsdin, and Government Commissioner Alida Francis.

 “Much appreciation is extended to the representatives who have submitted the nomination and to the members of the Royal Decoration Committee who have facilitated and guided the nomination process for the Royal Decoration. On behalf of His Royal Highness, I say: Thank You! Wear the symbol of this Royal recognition with pride,” Francis stated during the Royal Decoration event.

The Tradition of Royal Decorations

Every year, on the birthday of H.R.H King Willem Alexander of the Netherlands, Dutch nationals are decorated for noteworthy contributions in their respective communities.

The islands in the Dutch Caribbean and municipalities in the European Netherlands can submit candidates for a royal decoration. For more information on the process and the members of the Statia Royal Decoration Committee, please visit: https://bit.ly/41B9RQD.