By Flynn Bush
The Schooners Restaurant at the Cayman Turtle Centre was the venue for a long-awaited event on Saturday night, August 14th. Because of the global pandemic and the lockdown last year, the Duke of Edinburgh Awards presentation had not been held for two years. In this night, however, the committee made up for that lapse with a beautiful and quaint celebration at one of Grand Cayman’s premier attractions.
On hand for the event were the Premier, Governor, Minister of Youth, committee members, teachers, parents, and most importantly the students themselves. This was a chance to recognize the efforts of the young individuals who had chosen to participate in the program, and who had fulfilled all the requirements and met all of the achievement goals. Now, in the program there are three levels, gold, silver and bronze. However, these do not denote first, second and third place finishes as they do in most athletic endeavors. Rather, it is best to think of bronze, silver and gold as “A Great Achievement”, “Further Adventures in Greatness,” and “Wow, That’s Totally Incredible,” respectively. On this evening, first two categories were awarded to a number of brave and adventurous souls.
Ms. Kathy Jackson, Chairperson of the committee, and past awardee herself, began the evening by welcoming everyone, giving a brief overview of the program, and explaining how the evening would progress. She spoke eloquently and drew on her own experience, her culture, and her naturally great sense of humor.
Governor Martin Roper was next to the podium. He said he felt that the committee and the participants had fulfilled the vision of the late Duke of Edinburgh. He said that he felt that HRH Prince Philip would be delighted to see that this awards ceremony was held here at the Cayman Turtle Centre, and he would also feel proud of how these young people had achieved. He lauded the work of the committee and encouraged them to continue the legacy of consistent success.
The Minister of Youth, Hon, Bernie Bush, spoke of the value of the program and the experience the participants gain from it. He spoke of how his own daughter had achieved much laudable achievements, but still had a regret that she had never took part in the program. Thus, he praised the participants and the program organizers, including the committee members and the teachers involved.
Up next, the participants got the chance to speak of their own experiences. This was done in video form, slide shows, and audio presentations. The young men and young women spoke with such poise and were admirably well spoken. Thus, they gave the audience an idea of the extent of their adventurous journey to become a bronze or silver award winner.
After that, the participants were presented with their awards. Premier Wayne Panton and Governor Roper were delighted to be asked to do the presentations, and the awardees were elated to finally have in their hand the reward for their hard work.
The Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme has been run in Cayman for several decades, with the first awardees coming from the Girls Brigade in 1970. Three members of the current committee were awardees in that class, and it is proof of the program teaches participants to give back to their community. With this new batch of awardees, the future looks a little brighter for this country. Undoubtedly, these young people will continue to make us all proud. Congratulations to you all.