Prime Minister Andrew Holness has expressed deep sorrow at the passing of Sarah Newland Martin, OD. Ms. Newland Martin was the General Secretary of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), former national swimmer, former sportswoman of the year and social worker. She was 75 years old.Prime Minister Holness stated that Ms Newland Martin was an exceptional Jamaican who contributed to the development of volunteerism, social work and the community of persons living with disabilities.
In 1965, Ms. Newland Martin defied the odds, becoming the only woman with a disability to win the Cross Harbour Swim meet, by swimming the two-and-a-half-mile path in the Kingston Harbour. That same year, she was also crowned sportswoman of the year.
Up to the time of her transition yesterday (June 8), Sarah Newland Martin was an active member of several service organizations including the YMCA where she had been serving in the post of national General Secretary for 36 years.
“Sarah’s life has been dedicated to service. She has been an advocate for the community of persons living with disabilities and the youth. Her work and impact through her service to several voluntary and social groups have assisted in positively influencing the path of at-risk youth. Her service to the nation through her passion for swimming has opened doors for so many. Her disability served as a source of inspiration that one’s impact can be greater than any physical limitation. Jamaica has lost a true nation builder, public servant, a woman of determination, perseverance and courage,” said Prime Minister Holness.
In 1980, Ms. Newland Martin was awarded the nation’s fifth-highest Honour, the Order of Distinction (OD). She served as the service projects co-chair for the Rotary Club from 2018 – 2019. Up to the time she transitioned, she was a serving on the Board of the Public Broadcasting Corporation (PBCJ).
For his part, the Minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Information, the Hon. Robert Nesta Morgan, said: “Sarah Newland Martin was a national treasure. Her body of work and dedication to serve, was an inspiration to all. Her work on the PBCJ Board brought about improvements to programming which focused on the community of persons living with disabilities to ensure a greater understanding of their issues. We are indebted to Sarah for her selflessness and service to our nation. “
In the meantime, Prime Minister Holness has expressed condolences to Ms. Newland Martin’s family, friends and the wider YMCA family.
“I pay tribute to an iconic Jamaican who defied the odds and accomplished what many deemed impossible. May her soul rest in peace and light perpetual shine on her” concluded Prime Minister Holness.