By Lindsey Turnbull
The Cayman Islands Veteran’s Association does a crucial job in helping Cayman’s veterans in times of need, assisting individuals who have fought for their country and who have shown immense bravery. Unfortunately, Covid this year prevented the Association from holding one of their most significant fundraisers, their gala dinner, so the community is being called upon to ensure they do their bit when they see a poppy seller, contribute to this important cause and wear their poppy with pride. At a special ceremony held at The Wharf last Friday the Governor Martyn Roper was pinned with the first poppy of the season by Shadden McLaughlin (USMC Retired), Executive Member and Event Coordinator for the Association. In attendance at the ceremony were Andrew McLaughlin, President of the Cayman Islands Veterans Association and Paul Ebanks, Vice President of the Association, along with other veterans, their families and supporters.
The Governor urged people to contribute to this worthy cause.
“This is really important because our Veterans Association do important work supporting veterans in our community. Obviously, this year it’s been challenging because of Covid, so the normal fundraising event, the gala dinner, hasn’t taken place, so that makes it even more important that people contribute and wear the poppy,” he stated. “For all of us, it’s a chance to remember why we are all here, because of the millions of people who died so we can enjoy peace and stability today.”
Veteran Loxley Ebanks, formerly with the US Airforce, spoke about the vital role veterans played years ago and their legacy.
“There’s a real important Cayman Islands connection between the veterans and the seafarers because many Caymanian veterans were seafarers, together serving in both. We have quite a few veterans who need assistance in Cayman, so we seek support from the general public,” he said. “Caymanians have always stood on the precipice of freedom and democracy and a lot of young people are presently doing the same thing that I did, my father did and my grandfather also,” he confirmed.
Supporter Andrea Williams, mother, attorney and president of BPW (Business and Professional Women’s Association), said she supported the veterans as the cause was something her 10-year-old son was aware of because his school did a special event for poppy day each year.
“He is very curious and he is working on a project on people who have been associated with being in the service,” she confirmed.
Philanthropist Susan Olde OBE said she was very happy to support Cayman’s seafarers as the cause was close to her heart.
“For many years I’ve been a veterans supporter. I’ve always supported the poppies here and volunteered globally to sell poppies and support veterans. I come from a military family: we’ve had most of my family and also my deceased husband serve in the military, so what I do understand is the military brings a lot of support to every community, both in their identity and in reassuring people that they are safe. I find it really interesting that this year - in a world of people not feeling safe - I think the military is something that we really do need to get behind and I’m really pleased that Cayman is establishing its own military service, because I think overall, in the bigger picture, people will be reassured by that. I’m pleased to be here,” she said.
The Governor, veterans and their families and supporters went on to enjoy a celebratory lunch at The Wharf, following the ceremony.