The practice of naming airports after famous people has been in existence for many years. Presidents, artists, explorers, musicians, philanthropists and even footballers grace the names of some of the worlds most travelled airports. Here in Belize, it is our National Hero, Philip Stanley Wilberforce Goldson, who lends his name to the Philip Goldson International Airport (PGIA).
Philip Goldson was born on July 25th 1923 in Belize City at a time when Belize was still under British rule and known as British Honduras. At the age of 18 he took a job in the Civil Service, which sparked his lifelong interest in journalism and politics. He quickly became involved in the Nationalist movement, a movement focusing on the country’s independence from Britain, which took off with the formation of the Peoples United Party (PUP) in 1950. Goldson became Assistant Secretary to the party and at the same time, Editor of the paper Belize Billboard. It was an article in this paper that resulted in his sentence to a year of hard Labour, for “Seditious Intention”. Always thinking of his fellow Belizeans, Goldson used his time in prison to teach his fellow inmates to read and write.
For the rest of his life, Philip Goldson was involved in politics and instrumental in Belize’s independence. Simultaneously he sought to improve the lives of Belizeans through achievements such as the establishment of free primary education and governmental assistance to secondary schools, the initiation of the village council system and helping to rebuild Corozal town after the devastating Hurricane Janet. He also set up the family court, the department of Women’s affairs and the Disabilities Service Commission in his position as Minister of Social Services, under the term of the newly elected United Democratic Party (UDP) of which he was later a member.
Goldson was a man of determination and at the age of 51 studied to become a lawyer. Sadly, he lost his sight a few years later through glaucoma but this did not deter him from his goals. He continued his involvement in the area of disability and became president of the Caribbean Association of Disabled and Vice President of Rehabilitation International.
The Belize International Airport was given the name Philip Goldson International Airport in 1989 as recognition of his outstanding contribution to Belize. Just before he died in 2001, Mr. Goldson was presented with the Order of the Belize and posthumously in 2008 he was bestowed the greatest honor of Order of National Hero.