By Lindsey Turnbull
Going down in the history books as the first female Governor of the Cayman Islands and having arguably held down one of the most successful tenures as governor that this territory has known, Her Excellency the Governor Helen Kilpatrick departed the Cayman Islands on Monday.
In her parting remarks she spoke with warmth about her time in Cayman, saying that from the moment she arrived in September 2013 she felt welcome and happy in Cayman.
“I will always remember the special introductory events that each district so generously gave me. They were a wonderful start to my learning about the history and culture of the people of the Cayman Islands,” she said.
Governor Kilpatrick had praise for Premier Alden McLaughlin and Deputy Governor Franz Manderson, who she called “two special people”, thanking the premier for his integrity and dignity.
“We have always enjoyed a cordial and productive working relationship and I like to think that this has strengthened the bond between the Cayman Islands and the United Kingdom,” she said of the Premier, while she said that Mr Manderson’s leadership of the civil service was “truly exemplary”.
Highs and lows
The Governor highlighted areas of her work of which she felt most proud, including helping to have the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women extended to the Cayman Islands, which she called a highlight. In addition, she hoped her office’s work with the government and the RCIPS on strengthening the arrangements for safeguarding children “would have a lasting benefit for vulnerable children”.
She also noted the “huge improvements” made during her tenure by government in its financial reporting.
However, there were areas that had caused her disappointment, she noted.
“One of my greatest responsibilities has been ensuring the safety and security of these islands. It is therefore bitterly disappointing that crime is still far too high, particularly crimes involving drugs, guns and burglary,” she said. “We are, however, fortunate to have dedicated and professional law enforcement personnel, who are seen as leaders in the Overseas Territories’ community. My office works closely with the RCIPS and other agencies to ensure that the Cayman Islands continues to be one of the safest places in the Caribbean. Current projects to improve border and maritime security are vital to help ensure that violent crime does not take a hold here as it has in other parts of the region.”
Another area that she felt required urgent attention was that of the rights of the LGBT community in the Cayman Islands, she said. UK Foreign Officer Ministers had, she said, all expressed their hopes that the Government would bring forward legislation to bring the Territory into line with the European Charter on Human Rights and with the Cayman Island’s own Bill of Rights which prohibits discrimination.
“The need for this legislation, and particularly the recognition of same sex partnerships, is now pressing and I would urge the Government to make progress on this legislation to advance the rights of LGBT members of the Cayman Islands community,” she said.
Praise and friendship
Singling out the Cayman Islands Veterans Association for a special mention, she said:
“This group of brave men and women do fantastic work helping those who have served their country and I encourage everyone to support their work.”
The Governor also had high praise for the staff of the Health Services Authority who looked after her daughter and herself when they needed urgent medical treatment.
“We owe them our lives,” she confirmed.
Having made friends at the Cayman Islands Sailing Club, the Governor noted it was very special for her to take part in the first ever Cayman Islands Fleet Review last Saturday.
“I cannot think of a better send off,” she noted.
Early retirement and a vacation in Sri Lanka and Bali beckon this outgoing Governor, while preparations are already being made for the arrival of the new Governor, Anwar Choudhury, along with his wife Momina, two teenage daughters and new baby daughter, arriving on 26th March.