This day honors Baron Bliss, an Englishman who left a bulk of his fortune to the service of the Belizean people. Henry Edward Ernest Victor Barretts was his birth name. He was later given the title of Fourth Baron Bliss of the former Kingdom of Portugal by an ancestor. He earned sufficient wealth to be able to spend the latter years of his life aboard his yacht, fishing, and sailing in the Caribbean Sea.
While exploring the coastline, he landed on the colony of British Honduras. His visit to Belize was also prompted by an invitation from a friend, Willoughby Bullock, the city’s Attorney General of that time. Bullock had advised that the baron spend his retirement on the island. The city’s beauty and generosity of its citizens delighted Baron Bliss, who honored his friend’s request
Unfortunately, he fell severely ill during this time and his physicians diagnosed him terminally ill. This was when he decided to draft his will and leave a large percentage of his portion for the improvement of Belize. Interestingly, his will had meticulous dos and don’ts. He emphasized clearly that the fund would not be used to build schools, churches, or dance halls unless they were vocational or agricultural.
The money was well spent and the city now has notable institutes such as the Bliss School of Nursing, the In-Transit Lounge at the Belize National Airport, the Belize City Water Supply System, and the Baron Bliss Institute and Promenade.
Soon after the death of Baron Bliss, the Belizean government declared March 9 to be Baron Bliss Day, a national holiday. However, in 2008, the holiday was renamed National Heroes and Benefactors Day to celebrate other notable individuals who also contributed to the growth and progress of the city.