Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands – Three innovators in the diving industry of the Cayman Islands have been chosen as the local honourees for the 2015 International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame (ISDHF). Gladys B. Howard, Nancy Easterbrook and the late Dr (Doc) James (Jimmie) Poulson will be honoured at the induction ceremony in October.
The Hon. Minister of Tourism, Mr. Moses Kirkconnell shared: “It is quite a privilege to select local honourees to this prestige Hall of Fame. Each year it becomes more and more apparent that the local contribution to dive and watersports has been significant both for the destination and globally. We are proud to recognise these individuals as pioneers, innovators, and inventors, as the best in their field and to place their names alongside other individuals who have been recognised over the years for their outstanding contributions to the dive industry.”
2015 Local Inductees:
Gladys B. Howard
In 1986, Gladys B. Howard became the owner of Pirates Point Resort with the vision to create a unique dive resort on Little Cayman. Her extensive community efforts have created a legacy that is undisputable in the betterment of the Sister Islands. Beyond her passion for the dive industry, she has been a pioneer for developing sustainable tourism in the Cayman Islands and promoting environmental causes. When it became apparent that there was a need to move the town dump to a different location, Gladys submitted ideas to the government of the day and was able to have the landfill moved. In its place, she created the National Trust Building that now houses the community visitor centre, where volunteers help guide and educate tourists of the treasures of Little Cayman. She created the annual Easter Auction, an event that garners approximately CI$50,000 annually. The funds raised go towards the preservation of land, repairs to the National Trust Building, or printing signs to raise awareness of the indigenous iguanas that reside on Little Cayman.
Gladys has also been integral in the fight against the invasive lionfish on the reefs of the Cayman Islands. For the past four years, she has donated Yellow Rose, the resort dive boat, for the weekly lionfish cull.
She has been awarded many honours, including the Badge of Honour, and a National Trust Caymanite Octopus that was hand carved to honour her many environmental and preservation efforts in Little Cayman.
Nancy started diving in 1973, and instantly developed a passion for the sport. She moved with her 2 children Brandee & Walker to Grand Cayman in 1994 and started Divetech. Nancy is consider a pioneer in technical diving, Rebreathers and the sport of breath-hold free diving in Cayman, including co-authoring training manuals for students to learn free diving. She founded Inner Space, celebrating its 9th year, which brings together Closed Circuit Rebreather (CCR) divers from around the world to share knowledge and friendship. Nancy has also been committed to introducing the youth of the Cayman Islands to diving through a variety of programmes offered through her company. She has devoted the past 20 years to exploring all that diving has to offer and has championed many causes for environmental awareness in the marine and terrestrial environment.
Her latest achievement was an 8-year project to bring the Kittiwake to Cayman as an artificial reef which came to fruition in 2011 and is now one of the most popular dive sites in the destination.
Dr. James Poulson (posthumously)
The late Dr (Doc) James (Jimmie) Poulson opened the Cayman Clinic on Crewe Road, a successful medical practice. Doc Poulson advanced the crucial medical care for divers by helping set up the first hyperbaric chamber on Grand Cayman, used for the treatment of decompression sickness.
Originally the chamber was situated at the George Town Hospital and then when the hospital needed the space it was moved behind the Cayman Clinic. Since the early 70s the British Sub-Aqua Club ran it until 1996 when it was taken over by John and Ann Elliott. Because of Doc Poulson’s contribution and the many, many free hours he put into helping the volunteers operate the hyperbaric chamber there is a popular dive site on Grand Cayman named after him – “The Doc Poulson”.
The Doc Poulson was the first purpose sunk vessel in the Cayman Islands. It was originally a Japanese cable laying ship and was sunk in Grand Cayman in 1981 to create an artificial reef on Seven Mile Beach. The 70 ft. long wreck sits upright in about 50 to 60 feet of water and is a part of the Islands’ diving history.
Director of Tourism, Mrs. Rosa Harris, said, “These individuals have devoted much of their lives to the diving industry in the Cayman Islands and to ensuring that our magnificent underwater environment is accessible to ever increasing numbers of avid water sports and dive enthusiasts. Their respective contributions have solidified that the Cayman Islands retain its reputation as one of the best diving locations in the world and for their efforts the destination is extremely grateful. It is a proud moment when we can recognise the local honourees to not only honour them for their role in the development of dive but also for the contributions to tourism.”
Founded in 2000 by the Cayman Islands Ministry of Tourism, the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame recognises international and local Cayman pioneers who have made outstanding contributions to the recreational scuba diving industry, in a yearly ceremony held in the Grand Cayman.
For more information on the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame, visit www.scubahalloffame.com. To learn more about the unparalleled diving in the Cayman Islands, visit www.caymanislands.ky/divecayman.