Local group recognises ‘Lady Ira’ for aiding Atwell’s recovery

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By Avenash Ramzan

The Guyana Committee of Services on Thursday recognised the efforts and work of Ira Lewis, popularly known as ‘Lady Ira’, who played a lead role in the treatment and recovery of Guyanese boxing champion, Clive ‘The Punisher’ Atwell, who suffered a brutal knockdown at the hands of Dexter Gonsalves last year at the Giftland Mall.

Members of the group presented a plaque to the USA-based Guyanese, inscribed with the words, “I slept and I dreamt that life is all joy. I woke and I saw that life is all service. I served and I saw that service is joy, with an abundance of thanks.”

It was a simple, but significant ceremony held in the main pavilion of the Georgetown Cricket Club where Chairman of the Guyana Committee of Services, Eugene Noel, spoke of the committee’s agenda, prior to bestowing the award on ‘Lady Ira.’

“A few months ago, under the aegis of Payless Variety Store, we endeavoured to a do a few things for persons who are very unfortunate. We were successful with a few of them in sports- we were successful with Clive Atwell- and we’re attempting others. But we’re grateful, we‘re very thankful for the service that you would have provided for brother Atwell when he was in the States and we’re happy that we have this connection,” Noel told the small gathering.

‘Lady Ira’ is the Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Guyana America Heritage Foundation, and played a key role in Atwell getting medical attention in the USA after he endured a horrendous blow to the head by Gonsalves in their title fight.

The punch rendered the boxer unconscious, and after he was rushed off to hospital, it was determined that he needed urgent reconstructive surgery on his skull. After the WBC FECARBOX Super Lightweight fight in October 2015, Atwell was diagnosed with massive intracranial haemorrhage and general swelling to the brain.

It was on his journey to seeking help to offset his expenses that Atwell encountered ‘Lady Ira’, a meeting he pointed out was “a blessing in disguise.”

“She came onboard with everything she had. She got the understanding of the situation and then we launched out to raise money. She made sure I was at different functions, different fundraising events. She would call my wife and I every day- sometimes four, five times a day. She would travel two, three hours a day from one event to another, all in the effort of raising funds,” Atwell reflected.

‘Lady Ira’ meanwhile, is the recipient of many awards for her work with the Foundation in the USA, but she says this accolade is very special since it is from her countrymen and women.

“I’m surprised. I don’t know what to say because a lot of times I give awards, but receiving is something else. I can tell you right now; I never felt this way before,” a smiling ‘Lady Ira’ said upon receiving the plaque.

She continued, “I’ve been honoured by many, many countries and nationalities, but today is one of the honours that I never expected. When your own honours you, you feel so much better. America has honoured me and I’m grateful and thankful for that, but I must tell you I feel 101% better when my own country people honour me. Thank you, thank, thank you.”

The Guyana Committee of Services would also like to express gratitude to other several persons who played a part in Atwell’s surgery and recovery, among them Joseph Ramkumar, Carlos Prowell, Avril Black, Leslie Black, Sean Devers, Gwen Williams, Lyndon Jones, Rajan Tiwari, Lennox Cush, Eugene Noel, Young Bill Rogers and Fly Jamaica.

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