Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Lady Sassoon Golden Heart Award presented to A. Bismark Coakley

This past Saturday the patrons of the annual Heart Ball were treated to a glorious evening celebrating the Sir Victor Sassoon (Bahamas) Heart Foundation’s  Fifty First Heart Ball.

A highlight of the evening was the presentation of the prestigious Golden Heart Award, named in honor of Lady Sassoon, the Foundation’s founder and patron.

This year’s Golden Heart Award went to A. Bismark Coakley, M.B.E., for his work with physically challenged children and helping his fellow man. Mr. Coakley said he was very grateful for this recognition of his efforts.

In presenting the Lady Sassoon Golden Heart Award to Mr. Coakley, R.E. Barnes, Chairman of the Sassoon Heart Foundation said that the Award was created as a way to recognize members of our community who give of themselves selflessly to help their fellow man. He noted that the nominations come from the public and it truly is the people’s award for recognition of work done to assist those in our community.

Mr. Coakley was born in 1942 in Nassau to Roderick and Mary Coakley of Fresh Creek, Andros. He is the father of seven children, Perez, Leesa, Carlos, Gerard, Tiffany, Alexia, and Chia.

Mr. Coakley is a 1964 graduate of Shaw Business & Commerce Institution in Ontario, Canada. He subsequently obtained a Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Miami in 1984.

Upon returning from Canada, Mr. Coakley took up employment with Commonwealth Bank culminating as Vice President, subsequently he became Vice President of General Bahamian Companies operators of the largest liquor company throughout The Bahamas in 1972. Employed as President of Sunshine Holdings Company Limited since September 1972, he was responsible for the day to day administration of Sunshine Holdings Limited. The motto of the company is “Helping those who cannot help themselves”.

Having served as President at Arawak Homes Limited, Mr. Coakley retired from active duty in 2009, after 38 years of exemplary service. Presently he serves as Deputy Chairman/Director and Advisor on several affiliated companies including: Sunshine Holdings Company Limited, Sun Oil Company Limited, Eleuthera Properties Limited and RoyalStar Assurance Company Limited. Mr. Coakley was honored by Her Majesty the Queen in 2010 and made a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

But what has driven Bismark Coakley, as much as his business interests,  has been a desire to help those around him. In 1991 he became involved with the Physically Challenged Children’s Committee, then known as the Crippled Children’s Committee. He initially was the Committee’s Treasurer before being elected Chairman of the Committee. There he has worked with both local and international physicians in seeking the best care for the children affected with this disability.

Those on the Committee speak of his sincere passion and determination to improve the quality of life for the physically challenged children of the Bahamas. Those who have worked with him both in Nassau and in the Family Islands know of his commitment to the children who need our assistance to lead fuller lives.

Mr Coakley says his reward is seeing the smiles and relief on the faces of the children and their parents after their procedures are completed.

Mr Coakley has also served as President of the Rotary Club of West Nassau where they have worked with the Bahamas Children’s Emergency Hostel and the Persis Rodgers Home for the Aged. Mr. Coakley was awarded the highest honor that the Club bestows, the Paul Harris Fellowship.

Mr Coakley has also been a member of the Young Presidents Organization since its inception. The members pool their resources for the betterment of the country and they try to assist whenever asked by the government.

As Mr. Coakley says, he is a “man from over the hill”. He was taught to help his fellow man, to assist his brothers and sisters, neighbors and friends. He does not seek the limelight, but simply works to make the world a little bit better place. He loves to put a smile on someone else’s face. A man with a golden heart.