Sunday, March 9, 2014
Happy Baron Bliss Day
March 9th is Baron Bliss Day in the Central American country of Belize. We have visited Belize several times. On one of our visits to Belize, we were in Caye Caulker and there were many Belizeans swimming and enjoying themselves at the area they call The Split. I asked someone about it and they told me it was Baron Bliss Day and it was a holiday for many people.
I later found out that every year, on the 9th March, wreaths are placed on the tomb of Baron Bliss in his memory . The day is celebrated as a public and bank holiday, and a harbor regatta is held in remembrance of a man who loved Belize.
The fourth Baron Bliss of the Kingdom of Portugal, Henry Edward Ernest Victor Bliss, was an Englishman by birth. In 1926, he sailed in his yacht Sea King to Belize and fell in love with the green Caribbean Sea, the cayes and balmy climate.
When he was younger he had contracted polio and decided to travel the world in a luxury yacht. After spells in the Bahamas, Trinidad and Jamaica, he arrived in Belize harbor, where he found a climate which suited him. He was extremely fond of the local people. When he arrived in British Honduras, as Belize was called then, his health was poor. He spent some months off the coast of Belize aboard the Sea King, attempting to recover from this illness. Fishermen and colonial administrators treated him kindly and taught him about Belize. The Baron died of food poisoning, but not before he changed his will. He loved British Honduras and wrote a will that revoked any former will in order to leave the bulk of his fortune for the benefit of the people of British Honduras. The will set up a trust fund that is used for the benefit of Belizeans and has made possible the building of the Bliss Institute Library and Museum in Belize City, health clinics and markets around the country, and has helped with the Belize City water supply system. The Baron is considered Belize's greatest benefactor.
Over the decades, the Baron Bliss Fund has used money from the savings accumulated on many projects for the benefit of Belize. The projects completed have benefited all parts of Belize. Some projects completed in the past century with the help of the Fund were The Baron Bliss Institute and Promenade, The Bliss School of Nursing, Belize City Water Supply System, Intransit Lounge at Belize International Airport, the Corozal Town Hall and the purchase of land for the building of the capital city of Belmopan.
The many projects realized by the Baron Bliss Trust have benefited thousands of citizens and were all completed in conformity with the desires of the will of Baron Bliss. It is safe to say that there will be many more ways and projects through which the practical kindness and affection of Baron Bliss will continue to aid Belize, for years and years to come.