November 27, 2021

Queen’s Birthday Celebrations in Cayman Islands: Bios and Photos of Recipients

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At the annual Queen’s Birthday Parade and Ceremony this Saturday, (17 June 2017) past and current recipients of Queen’s Honours will be recognised.

Mr. Charles Watler and Mr. Philip Rankin, who were announced last year as recipients, will officially receive their honours at this year’s ceremony.

The new Queen’s Birthday Honours  recipients will be announced on the day of the event.

Mr. Charles Wesley Watler Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) Recipient

The youngest of 11 siblings of a pioneering Cayman Islands family, Mr. Charles Wesley Watler, JP, (73) is this year’s sole recipient of Birthday Honours from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Acknowledged for his contributions to the Cayman Islands community, Mr. Watler, will receive the Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE).

Perhaps his most famous contribution was his role as the Father of the Immigration Board, where he donated countless hours of personal time over the years to meeting the Islands’ growing labour needs while also pursuing training and development for Caymanians.

Mr. Watler credits his commitment to community service to observing from a young age the profound kindness of his mother, Jane Catherine Watler (nee Bodden).

On seeing his potential in school his parents reduced his household chores and were rewarded when he went on to graduate first in his class at the Cayman Islands High School (CIHS). After that, he relocated to Port Arthur, Texas to study and returned as an accountant.

His first employer Cable and Wireless (C&W) grew to be one of the largest employers in the Islands. During his 19 years’ service there he achieved the rank of manager before leaving to run a family business. He then went on to set up his own real estate and development company, building condos, apartments and development projects.

At C&W, Mr. Watler was also in charge of training and here he found his niche. He helped set up a system to scout the top three to five percent of students each year from the CIHS to select candidates for summer jobs at C&W.

For those Caymanians already employed by the company, he sought increasing technical, engineering and managerial training opportunities, whether at corporate training facilities in other Caribbean countries, in Europe, or other educational institutions overseas. Knowing they would need help in math to pass trade board exams, he hired a school math teacher to tutor them. A number of Caymanians who benefited from that early training still hold high positions today.

Recognising his aptitude in this area, Government named him a member of the Caymanian Protection Board in 1976, and he retained his membership for a number of years when it became the Immigration Board.

Here, he once again concentrated on getting Caymanians into local businesses, corporations and firms. He also reached out to corporate entities to launch training and apprenticeship programmes. In addition, he sought and obtained from big business, scholarships for bright young Caymanians, particularly in accountancy, his field of specialisation.

Mr. Watler thanks those expatriate-led companies that understood the merits of a well-trained pool of Caymanian staff and provided them with education and training.

He acknowledges the big impact that his farming background had on him. “Farming was part of our culture and upbringing. It contributed to a strong work ethic and resilience which is indicative of our Caymanian heritage,” he says.

Young people also benefited from his good will in other ways. Realising government high school graduates needed help passing their SAT entrance exams to get into good US universities, he raised funds to set up a tutoring programme and purchase tutorial materials. This was also accompanied by various donations to the high school such as ham radios, the use of which helped prepare students to join companies like C&W.

His focus on developing talent also extended to the incarcerated population, where he helped to train prisoners in trades such as electrical work. These courses were conducted at his request by private companies.

He also raised $14,500, purchased 13 computers and set up a computer club in the prison and provided a tutor free of charge for over two months. He fondly remembers one released prisoner coming to tell him that he had successfully completed a trade course, and was now gainfully employed.

Other boards to which he has contributed over the years include: Cayman Airways, CINICO, Housing Development Corporation, Health Services Authority, and Prison Inspection. A Justice of the Peace he has served as a Juvenile Court magistrate, and was a natural choice to head the “Education and Training” group during the Vision 2008 strategic planning exercise.

A big blow to him was the passing in 2014 of his beloved wife Jacqueline, a first generation Scandinavian American from New York. They shared 45 years together as well as five children and 10 grandchildren. “Jacqueline was a great influence on my life,” he comments. “Her kindness, optimism and dedication to family as well as consideration for other people at work and at church where she helped with the youth greatly assisted me in my fundraising and providing training for others.”

Family mattered so much to her that she never hesitated giving them all her time, especially catering to her children when they were taking their certifications. He says the love and support of his family, as well as his love of helping others, have helped him to carry on since her loss.

He cites as an example an incident, days after his wife passed. When out on a walk with his son, they stopped at the Frances Bodden Girls Home where he learnt they needed a new stove and an electrician’s services to do needed work. The very next day he made sure that they received the needed assistance.

Another comfort has been his work with his church, where he has been an elder for 34 years, served as secretary for 33 years, and periodically as treasurer.

In addition to time, service and money, Mr. Watler has also made generous donations of land to the community. These include for the Governor Gore Bird Sanctuary in Spotts, land for the Agriculture Pavilion which is named after his brother Stacey. He has also donated land for his church parking lot, and, subsequently, more land to the church for a play area, including for young children a play yard that is named after his mother, and a full basketball court which has increased youth attendance by 70% on Friday evenings.

Mr. Watler and his wife were also very actively involved with their children’s various Parent Teacher Associations.

His advice to today’s young people: “Pursue your education as far as possible. “Even adversity makes you learn. And learn to be self-confident.”

One of his mother’s actions had a profound impact on his life, Mr. Charles Watler remembers. His mother, Jane Catherine Bodden, had married his father, Lanaman Ellsworth Watler, a cattle farmer who also spent time at sea, when his wife and older children raised the family.

Even today, Mr. Watler is moved to tears describing a singular act of kindness by his mother many years ago. One day, he had helped his father round up the cattle to take them to the government-run cattle dip in Savannah, when his father sent him to fetch money from his mother to pay for the dip.

At home, he learnt his mother had donated meat, fruits and staples to help a starving lady who was unable to feed her children. When the woman confessed she would not be able to cook the food as she did not have the money to buy oil, his mother then gave her all the money she had to buy the oil.

Mr. Watler had to relay this to his father and help him bring the cattle back home, a fact that made Mr. Watler Sr. understandably annoyed.

Back at home, his mother stood her ground with his father, justifying her actions since she knew the other lady’s needs were genuine and dire.

Soon after, his mother left to attend to a sick woman in Bodden Town. When she returned home, she received a letter from his employed older brother who wrote he was going from New York to India for four to six months on work. He had tucked into the letter US$1,000 for them, a princely sum in those days, he recalls.

Mr. Watler says this incident taught him the importance of human kindness but also of respecting women and their viewpoints – all lessons that still guide him today.


Philip Agustus Rankin Certificate and Badge of Honour Recipient

A blend of Caymanian enterprise, ambition and community-mindedness has earned Philip Agustus Rankin, a financial services leader, the Cayman Islands Certificate and Badge of Honour.

This award has been bestowed for his services to the financial services industry, and in particular to the Board of Cayman Airways (CAL).

Reflecting back to 2009 when he joined CAL as Chairman of Financial Matters, he said, “It was evident that that there was much to be done. CAL had been operating with significant deficits each year resulting in severe cash flow shortages, growing debt (formal and informal) and mounting payables.”

Having served as a Director since 2009, and from 2012 as CAL’s Chairman of the Board of Directors (an unpaid position), he is especially proud of the strides the Board has made to right the finances and the future outlook of the national airline.

Through definitive planning and innovative fiscal strategies, the airline’s situation is now vastly different from that of even 2010 – when its losses were over $12 million.  After managing to practically break-even in 2014, the next year’s audited financials showed a profit of $3.6 million, the airline’s largest (if not its first) in its 48 year history.

Now, the airline is poised to end its 2016 fiscal year this month with further profits of approximately $4.6 million. Notably, CAL is also this month releasing a Request for Proposals which will allow the lease of four new 737-800 Boeing Max aircrafts, which will open airway possibilities from the Cayman Islands to Brazil, to as far as the west coast of the United States (US), and most regions of Canada.

Mr. Rankin added that, “In addition to possible new routes, being in a position to negotiate very favourable leases will increase CAL’s seating capacity, save around 30 percent in fuel costs, and significantly reduce operating expenses.”

All this from a “George Town boy”, who worked hard and took advantage of available opportunities.  His choice to give-back by leading CAL is a crowning achievement of his career, and one which he says is “a natural return, since the Cayman Islands afforded me so many professional opportunities”.

Asked why the public hears so little of this and his other work, Mr. Rankin asserts “I’m too busy for publicity”. In addition to being committed “24-7” to CAL, and his full-time private enterprise, his other major community service has been sharing his decades of expertise with local university students, lecturing at International College of the Cayman Islands (ICCI) for over six years on the principles of finance.

His early years were spent in private sector finance at Deloitte & Touche, which took him on as a teenager. In his 14 years there, he became senior manager in the audit and assurance division, servicing areas as diverse as captive insurance, hedge and mutual funds, banking, trusts and shipping.

A member of the Cayman Islands Directors Association, he has also had a private practice for many years now, as co-founder and managing partner/director of Rankin Berkower (Cayman) Ltd.  His work as a Chief Finance Officer has seen him amass prominent clients from major finance centres throughout the United States, and in countries as far afield as Asia.

The fifth of eight children from a working-class George Town family, Mr. Rankin graduated from high school with honours in 1975. He would eventually become the fifth Caymanian to qualify as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).



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  1. […] Source: Cayman Eye News At the annual Queen’s Birthday Parade and Ceremony this Saturday, (17 June 2017) past and current recipients of Queen’s Honours will be recognised. Mr. Charles Watler and Mr. Philip Rankin, who were announced last year as recipients, will officially receive their honours at this year’s ceremony. The new Queen’s Birthday… Link: Queen’s Birthday Celebrations in Cayman Islands: Bios and Photos of Recipients […]

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