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National Archive building renamed to honour “True Caymanian”

The National Archive Building, being renamed in honour of “true Caymanian” Dr. Philip Pedley. From left: National Archive Director Kimlon Lawrence, Rolston Anglin, Mrs. Arthurlyn Ebanks Pedley, Hon. Premier Bush, His Excellency the Governor, Duncan Taylor, MLA Ellio Solomon, and Deputy Governor Donovan Ebanks.

The Cayman Islands National Archive building was renamed the Dr. Philip E. Pedley National Archive Building recently at a special service held outside the building in George Town.

Dr. Pedley, who passed away in May 2010 after a battle with cancer, came to the Cayman Islands from England in 1971. He played a lead role in the National Archive’s establishment, becoming its first Director, as well as in its subsequent development for more than 15 years.

Several government officials paid tribute to Dr. Pedley during the service.

Deputy Governor Donovan Ebanks spoke about Dr. Pedley’s love for, and identification with the Cayman people, to the point of being accepted by many as a native-born Caymanian. “Dr. Pedley was considered by many to be a true Caymanian, and while he could imitate the Caymanian accent he could never shed his English one. I often joked with him that if he could only get rid of that English accent, he could finally pass for a Caymanian. But he loved this country, and it was evident  through his steadfast dedication to the vision of giving the history of the Cayman Islands back to its people…that he loved all things Caymanian,” Mr. Ebanks said.

Hon. Premier, McKeeva Bush spoke warmly of his contact with Dr. Pedley, and explained that he was in favour of naming buildings after individuals who, like Dr. Pedley, had been key to the establishment and development of the institutions they represented.

West Bay MLA Rolston Anglin said: “As the tributes clearly pointed out, when a person does things for the right reasons, good comes to them.”

A common theme throughout all the tributes was that Dr. Pedley touched the lives of all the people he came in contact with, and had a way of teaching people without ever speaking down to them. Many spoke of a kind and humble man who, ‘touched the lives of all those he met,’ and ‘who was a friend to all.’

In an interview with iNews, National Archive director Kimlon Lawrence said: “Dr. Pedley will be remembered for his engaging and gentle spirit, a man of integrity, commitment and dedication.  He was humble about any recognition given to him and preferred to work tirelessly in the background, whilst ensuring that staff receive recognition for their work. His contribution to the establishment of the National Archive cannot be overstated and he will always be credited for laying the foundation. He had passion for all things Caymanian. He endeavoured to ignite that same passion by making Cayman’s history accessible to the public through numerous publications, research and outreach programmes.”

Dr. Pedley came to the Cayman Islands from England in 1971, aged 20, to visit his brother, Dr. Julian Pedley, but loved the islands so much he decided to stay.

After getting a job as a lab technician at the Cayman Islands High School, Dr. Pedley was able to pursue a PhD in English Literature in Pennsylvania, USA. It was in the late 1980’s that he was asked to start the National Archive which was established by law in 1991.

The archive grew from a collection of documents kept in cardboard boxes on the top floor of the old Tower Building in George Town to its present location, a purpose-built building which presently acts as the home to thousands of historical photographs, documents and reference books, along with transcripts of nearly two thousand oral history interviews.

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