Tamar Blake's day has arrived ... finally

RGD employee who cracked baby stealing case to get just reward on Heroes' Day

BY RACQUEL PORTER
Staff reporter
porterr@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, August 11, 2019

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AS a child, Tamar Delise Blake and her sister always admired the National Honours and Awards and vowed that one day they would be recognised during the event.

As each year passed, she told herself that she would be on the list for the next year.

“Since I was a child, my sister and I were always practising on Heroes' Day. We would practise how we were going to collect our awards, how we going to bow, the shuffle, the step back, pretending to hold out our hands and how we would be escorted from the platform,” she told the Jamaica Observer in an interview at her offices on Duke Street, downtown Kingston on Friday.

Blake has been bestowed with the Badge of Honour for Gallantry for an act of courage and bravery in ensuring the safe return of an abducted infant, Sae'breon Hutton.

Hours after the baby was born, he was stolen from the Victoria Jubilee Hospital on January 9, 2019.

On February 5, Peta-Gaye Ffrench, 27, turned up at the Registrar General's Department (RGD) at Twickenham Park, St Catherine, and attempted to register the baby.

A subsequent DNA test confirmed on February 7 that the baby belonged to Sinclair Hutton and his girlfriend Suzzett Whyte.

The baby and his parents were reunited on February 8.

Even though Blake believed in the statement she was making while watching the annual ceremony on Heroes' Day from her home in Ewarton, St Catherine, she never thought she would be recognised for doing her job.

The 39-year-old who holds a Master's degree in business said she always thought she would be recognised for volunteerism instead.

The registration officer, who has been employed to the agency for 15 years told the Sunday Observer that she was not supposed to be working at that location on that day.

“I was deputising for someone who was not at work, but I think everything was so divinely orchestrated because everyone was praying for this child and there was no lead, no nothing when this child went missing,” she continued.

As days turned into weeks, members of the public was concerned about the baby's well-being when the police were unable to make a breakthrough in the case.

By this time, Blake was more vigilant.

“If this woman ever makes the mistake and come to RGD she better not come when I am working,” she chatted among her colleagues when news broke that the baby was stolen.

“When she came everything seemed so legitimate. She came and said her baby was not registered and she came with the Child Health and Development Passport indicating that she had a baby. The only time you get a passport is after delivery. She said the baby was born at a particular time so the mere fact that she had a passport I said ok. I looked in the passport several times because there is no way that a baby can be born in a public or private hospital and he's not registered, not when we have bedside registration,” she explained.

At one point Blake said Ffrench asked her if it is normal for the RGD not to have the baby's information after birth.

According to Blake, she told Ffrench 'no' and explained to her that it was highly unlikely.

“She was saying 'You can call the nurse ennuh. You can call the nurse if you wish because I went to the clinic' and all of that,” Blake said Ffrench uttered in an attempt to convince her.

But little did Ffrench know that Blake was thinking ahead of her.

“While she was saying all of that I was doing my background checks. There is no way that you can be born at the Spanish Town Hospital and nobody has any log of you. So I said for argument's sake if we had missed it, it would be too coincidental for everybody, all the other persons in different facets of the hospital to miss out on this one person coming in and going out,” she said.

“She thought she was giving me the right answers because I didn't give her any indication that what she was saying to me wasn't adding up,” she stated.

Blake's gut feeling twinned with the 'red flags' that were left hanging, and when Ffrench was unable to answer certain questions, the registration officer immediately summoned the authorities.

One hundred and fifty-one days later when Blake turned on her television set, she was just in time to hear the announcer mention her name.

“I was like ahhh, you just called my name? Before she said I was getting a national award I saw my name in the caption and I said 'but that is my name' so I was like, ok. By this time I started to get calls,” she continued.

Soon after, her aunt Millicent Lindsay, whom she referred to as her second mother, came to visit her.

“She said 'Tamar, is this for real' and I said 'yes aunty, I just saw my name on TV,' she replied.

Humbled by the nomination, Blake said it is not an individual award but an agency award.

“It is a pleasure to accept the Badge of Honour for the management and staff at the Registrar General's Department as we continue to embrace the motto: 'We aim to satisfy',” she said.

Despite dedicating the award to the agency, she said she wishes her mother, who died in 2000, was alive to witness her recognition.

With 71 days left to prepare for the moment that she had only dreamt about, she said a comfortable shoe is a must-have.

While she spoke of her recognition, she would want Lindsay to prepare her garments in advance.

When the Sunday Observer spoke with Lindsay on Friday, she said she was not surprised that her niece will be among the 143 persons slated to receive national honours.


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