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Tearful optimism after Betty K blaze

Godfrey Kelly had tears in his eyes as he spoke yesterday about the business that has been in his family for decades.

He was only 9 years old when the first Betty K ship was built.

Now 82, he has no direct involvement in the operations of the shipping company.

But yesterday he was on downtown Bay Street as firefighters battled a blaze that engulfed the Betty K shipping operation.

In the end, there was nothing left but a charred structure and a lot of memories.

“It’s hard to believe on such a lovely day with all the sunshine that this could have happened,”Kelly toldThe Nassau Guardian.

“It really is a great tragedy for the Kelly family and of course Mr. Jack Sands(who ran the operation),”Kelly said.

“We have to do a lot of thinking in the days ahead. We were planning to move in about three months down to Arawak Cay. It really is unfortunate.

“The first Betty K was launched on Harbour Island in 1938 by my cousin Betty Kelly and we’ve been in business ever since. The Betty K name is a household name and I very much believe it will still continue as a shipping company. This isn’t the end by any means.”

Asked about the jobs of the people employed by the shipping company, Kelly said,”I hope very much that that won’t be a problem.”

According to its website, Betty K was named after the daughter of the founder, the late C. Trevor Kelly.

A fully-owned Bahamian company was born out of an idea from the owner, who saw the need to purchase a boat to take care of the personal needs of the Kelly family, the website says.

The Betty K operation is just one of the shipping companies preparing to move to the new Container Port at Arawak Cay.

In addition to Betty K, the fire–which broke out around 8 a.m. yesterday–destroyed several historic structures on downtown Bay Street. It hadthreatened even more structures, including the nearby Churchill Building where the Cabinet meets, before it was brought under control in the afternoon.

The property on which Betty K sat has already been targeted by the government for acquisition. The government intends to purchase the land to develop as part of the planned downtown Nassau revitalization project.

Several stores along Bay Street suffered smoke damageas a result of the massive blaze yesterday.

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