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Cayman Islands National Heroes Day celebrates Coat of Arms pioneers

Joan Wilson & Helen Merren receiving certificate in honour of their late father Mr. Roddy Watler

• Celebrations hononured the elected officials who were instrumental to the creation of the Coat of Arms.

• Organisations that have been serving the community for 50+ years were also highlighted

• The granting of the Constitution will be the theme for the 2020 National Heroes Day ceremony

GRAND CAYMAN (GIS) – A total of 54 honours were bestowed to the Vestrymen and Justices of the Peace who were instrumental in the creation of the Cayman Islands’ Coat of Arms at the National Heroes Day 2019 celebrations today (Monday, 28 January).

Crowds of people braved the windy weather to attend the annual national celebration, which took place in Heroes Square, George Town. A host of dignitaries were in attendance, including His Excellency the Governor Mr. Martyn Roper, the Premier, Hon. Alden McLaughlin, Ministers, coat of arms pioneers’ families, friends, representatives from long-standing organisations in the Cayman Islands, and the general public.

            “My heart was filled with pride as I watched those precious children walking past while waving flags and hearing our National Anthem, God Save the Queen. These are meaningful symbols of who we are as Caymanians, as is our Coat of Arms,” said Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin. “It was the conferral of our Coat of Arms that began our incredible journey as three small islands in the northwest Caribbean Sea that today have emerged from relative obscurity onto the world’s stage.”

            The Premier hosted the event along with Hon. Dwayne Seymour, Minister for Health Environment, Culture and Housing, and Celebrate Cayman.

            “It brings me great joy to see our community enjoying the cultural experience this ceremony provides,” said Minister Seymour. “Listening to our talented local musicians, tasting our delicious food, and taking pride in the achievement of our people are all parts of what makes National Heroes Day so special, because it is a celebration of what makes us Caymanians great.”

            In his welcome remarks, Alfonso Wright, Executive Chairman of Celebrate Cayman, noted the significance of culturally-focused events for the community. “Celebrate Cayman has been a wonderful opportunity for the community to come together and foster national pride. It has been a delight to see such a high level of engagement from the public and it is through the public’s continued interaction with these national celebrations that we will see a deeper connection and appreciation for the Cayman Islands and our culture.”

A colourful parade to commence the day’s celebrations included the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) Band, as well as detachments from the RCIPS, the Cayman Islands Fire Service, the Prison Service, Girls Brigade, Scouts, Cadet Corps, and Seventh Day Adventist Pathfinders.

            Proceedings were officially opened with a conch shell blowing by Eugenio Myles of Cayman Brac, after which the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Hon. McKeeva Bush read the proclamation before a procession of children of all ages walking in pairs, hand-in-hand, waving Cayman Islands flags.

Cayman Brac’s Levonne Ryan said a prayer to bless the celebrations, while the National Anthem was sung by Rudy Myles as the Union Flag, Cayman Islands National Flag and the Celebrate Cayman Flag were hoisted into the air. The George Town Primary School choir also performed a musical special.

Following opening remarks by the Premier, family members of 1956-58 Vestrymen and Justices of the Peace, who played a role in the creation of the Coat of Arms, received a framed certificate honouring these pioneers. Captain Owen Farrington and Linberg Eden, the two living Vestryman from that period, received a Celebrate Cayman anniversary coin. The Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Ezzard Miller, gave a special recognition to the coat of arms architects.

The National Heroes Commemoration, honouring the Cayman Islands’ nine National Heroes was delivered by Marzeta Bodden, Deputy Executive Chairman of Celebrate Cayman and this year’s National Heroes Day celebrations Master of Ceremonies. Over 60 ‘founding organisations were also recognised for their 50+ years of service to the people of the Cayman Islands. These recognitions highlighted the growth of various industries and sectors on the three islands and the long-standing role of such organisations along our journey to modern day Cayman Islands.

Led by Cabinet Secretary Samuel Rose, wreaths were laid in tribute to all of the country’s National Heroes and nation builders, after which a moment of silence was observed. 

The Cayman Islands Scout Association gave a touching salute in tribute of the late Joanna Clarke, who was instrumental to the scout’s programme. A performance of the National Song by Erica Assai alongside the Savannah Primary School choir closed the ceremony.

            The awards ceremony was followed by the Coat of Arms travelling exhibit in George Town Library. The main exhibit is currently open at the Cayman Islands National Museum in George Town until June 2019. Attendees also enjoyed live entertainment from the members of the Cayman Islands Music Association, as well as a taste of local food.

            The granting of the Cayman Islands’ first Constitution in 1959 will be the focus of the 2020 National Heroes Day.

IMAGES: Susan Merren & GIS


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