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Belizeans commemorate National Heroes and Benefactors day

Posted: Monday, March 6, 2017. 1:18 p.m. CST.

By BBN Staff:A national holiday in Belize, previously commemorated as Baron Bliss day is being observed in the country today.

The day was set aside to remember Belize’s greatest financial benefactor, Baron Bliss.

Baron Henry Edward Ernest Victor Bliss was born in Marlow, Bickinghamshire, England on February 16, 1869.

In 1911 at the age of 42, the Baron was stricken with a paralysis, probably polio, that left him paralyzed from waist downward, confining him to a wheelchair. Though paralyzed from the waist down from 1911, Baron Henry maintained his love of sailing and fishing.

 Although he never set foot on the mainland, he spent two months in Belize’s territorial waters.

The English sails man generously donated his fortunes to the country.

Here’s a brief timeline of Baron Bliss’ arrival in Belize’s waters:

1.      In 1920, Bliss decided to retire and realize his dream of seafaring and fishing. His yacht was known as the Sea King 2 after being commandeered for war purposes from 1914 to 1918. After trying out the Bahamas and later Trinidad where his health began to deteriorate, he decided to set sail again.

2.      Bliss then heeded the invitation of an old friend Willoughby Bullock, who was then Attorney General of Belize.

3.      When Bliss dropped anchor in Belize on January 14 1926,  his heart was at ease. Every morning, local fishermen took him out to the cayes and barrier reef and he seemed happy and his health seemed to improve.

4.      About a month after his arrival, doctors visited him and found him to be gravely ill. Bliss then asked to the Governor General of then British Honduras to visit him. When Sir John Burdon visited him on his yacht, Bliss informed him that he wished to bequeath the bulk of his estate to country of Belize

5.      Bliss passed away on March 9, 1926 and  left a meticulously prepared will stating the do’s and don’ts.

He was buried in Belize city then moved to granite tomb near the sea with a lighthouse nearby as stipulated in his will.

His estate was worth $1.8 million  Belize dollars, but $480,000 was claimed by the United Kingdom inheritance taxes.

In his will, the remaining amount was to be used to benefit the citizens of British Honduras.

The Belize government then named March 9, a public and bank holiday in honor of Baron bliss.

Over the years, the fund has produced projects such as the Bliss Institute and the Bliss school of nursing.

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