The Cayman Islands Government Office in the United Kingdom (CIGO-UK) partnered with Cayman Connection this weekend to host a special event in London for Caymanians and friends from across the UK and Europe to come together for the first time in 18 months since the early COVID lockdown.
Over 100 Caymanians and Friends joined the family day designed to celebrate Caymanians in their endeavours overseas and for them to meet the new Cayman Islands Representative to the UK, Dr. Tasha Ebanks Garcia. New students and Caymanians coming to the UK for the first time were welcomed and were also able to meet fellow Caymanians who live in the UK. Caymanians who had not been home for many years were able to enjoy a slice of home and meet up with old friends.
Cayman Day’s emcee Jevaughnie Ebanks kicked off the event and hosted throughout the day, which included live performances from Caymanians and a specially formed group called “The Cayman Day Folk Singers” brought together by Rita Estevanovich, including Juliet Garricks, King Navassa, Nicole Wood, Rita Estevanovich and Caymanian violinist Nayil Arana, who flew from Luxembourg to take part. Mr Arana also greeted guests as they arrived, playing Caymanian and Caribbean music. Cayman Connection member King Navassa began the performances with a rendition of the Cayman Islands National Song with Mr Arana on accompaniment. The opening was followed by video messages from H.E. The Governor Martyn Roper, Premier Wayne Panton, Minister André Ebanks with National Gallery Director Natalie Urquhart and Cayman Connection’s Cayman-based Director and former Government Representative in the UK Mrs Jennifer Dilbert.
Performances throughout the day included Nicole Wood with guitarist Marie Marshall, Jean Eric Smith – Mr. Notch, who was on tour in the UK, and Precious Shordee with two dancers Daiezha McField and Tianee Morales-Levy. Live performances culminated in a soca dance routine and dance competition with Ashlea Smith, who was crowned "1st Princess" and "Miss Personality" representing the Cayman Islands at Miss Caribbean UK 2020. Sir Turtle made an entrance for the soca dance with thanks to the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism.
Guests were also greeted with surprise video messages from over 50 other members of the Cayman community in various parts of the world, wishing them well on Cayman Day in the UK. Messages were also shared out through social media and online.
A Caymanian cultural exhibit including heritage items and a collection of Cayman books and art were on display including a three-piece series from Caymanian artist Shane Aquart – Dready, in partnership with sporting events with the Department of Tourism, a large exhibition canvas from The Cayman Islands National Gallery and a John Broad personal collection. Artist Tyler Phillips flew in from Ireland with pieces of his art for the event.
Several fun competitions in addition to the soca dance-off were held, including a cassava cake competition and a domino competition. Caymanian gifts, prizes, medals and surprises were given to guests.
Following a recent partnership with Cayman Connection and Local Market from Resilience Cayman, there was a marketplace run by Jenny Palmer of Clarke Palmer, selling jewellery and other items from Cayman. A collection of Horacio Esteban Caymanite jewellery was on display and for sale at the marketplace.
A children’s area was set up for younger guests, including a turtle race game courtesy of the Department of Tourism, raising funds for the Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI), a sand pit and Creative Kids packs from the Cayman National Cultural Foundation.
A special menu of Cayman-inspired food including Caribbean favourites as well as modern fusion dishes was served throughout the day by award-winning Caribbean Chef Collin Brown, of Streetfoodz, working with Caymanian Chef Chad from GoGo Carib. The culinary duo worked on a full menu of "Cayman Day" signature dishes for the occasion. A very special serving of conch fritters was even on the menu!
Caymanian video content including Caymanian music videos and tourism shots of the islands were streaming all day long on screens around the venue and photo opportunities were provided at a large Rum Point backdrop with official photographer Patrick Broderick.
Caymanian music was played throughout the event sourced from Radio Cayman, the Cayman Entertainment and Music Association (CMEA), Cayman National Cultural Foundation, DJs Mark and Anil from Just Vibez who worked with Coalition and Sound Revolution in Cayman, Mr. Notch and the Cayman Connection team to ensure Caymanian music, traditional and contemporary, was played at the event.
Jerry Kandiah From Old Street Studios in London and Silver Palm Studios in Cayman managed the sound system for the event, ensuring that the sound technical elements went without a hitch. The evening ended with a DJ Just Vibez playing Cayman and Caribbean classics for guest dancing.
Kate Kandiah, Executive Director of Cayman Connection closed off the event with thanks to all involved, with special thanks to The Cayman Islands Government office in the UK, the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism and Cayman Connection Regional Manager, Rita Estevanovich who put in so much work, passion and culture to make it such a special event.
Dr Tasha Ebanks Garcia commented “Today we’ve had amazing food, entertainment, culture, art, dance and dominoes, we’ve even had home-made heavy cake! These events are really important to the CIGO-UK as they are an opportunity for us to bring Caymanians together. We all miss home, and although we choose to come overseas to continue our endeavours, we still long for our shores. This is a great opportunity for fellowship, reminiscing, making connections and making new friends here. It is also an opportunity for us to celebrate the country that we love so very much. Given the success of this event today, there is no doubt in my mind that his will be the first of many Cayman Days in the future.”
Kate Kandiah was presented with a custom-made gift from Cayman by Dr Ebanks Garcia, a Caymanite sculpture made by artist Horacio Esteban with a gold Coat of Arms as a thank you for her long-standing and continued support to the Cayman Islands Government and Caymanians overseas.
To find out more: www.caymanconnection.org/caymanday-uk