By Christopher Tobutt
‘Honouring Volunteerism & Charitable Services’ was this year’s Heroes Day theme, and hundreds of people came to join Government representatives to do just that.
Deal Ebanks blew the conch shell, a sign that that Heroes Day Celebration was officially beginning. Ms. Jhenelle Colquhoon sang the National anthem.
Hon. Bernie A. Bush, MP, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Youth, Sports, Culture & Heritage said, “These individuals and organisations give up their time, energy and talents for free, all for the betterment of these three islands we call home. ...Motivated by the desire to help uplift the lives of others, their work is largely unsung, making this year’s theme worthy, and one to remember for decades to come
“As minister for culture and heritage, and a volunteer myself, I can remember the setting up of several of these not-for-profits, each an acknowledgement to our Founding Fathers’ sense of Caymanian hospitality and Christian values. Cementing volunteerism as a part of our culture and heritage. Commitment can be challenging for many of us, but the fact that our recipients have continued to give up their time, talents and energy, makes them worthy of these awards.” Mr. Bush explained that, because of the rules, only those who had been nominated were able to receive an award, and he went on to list many individuals who were not being recognized because they had not been nominated.
There were three main award categories: Early Pioneer which included many names of people who could not attend the celebration, some of whom were deceased, with relatives picking up the award on their behalf. Then there was the Pioneer Category - today’s volunteer heroes. Finally, there was a category for charities. Mrs. Susan A. Olde received the sole philanthropist honour for making donations exceeding $1 million to charitable services in the Cayman Islands.
Honourable Premier G. Wayne Panton said, “each year, we pause as a nation to remember those who have gone before us: our early pioneers paving the way to the prosperity, the stability, and harmony we enjoy in the Cayman Islands. These heroes are integral to our collective history, and their exploits should be heralded in our homes, schools and visitors’ guidebooks. Their selflessness, kindness, and love of country have created a roadmap for success that we can and should follow to preserve the most beautiful parts of our culture and people.
“Volunteerism and charitable services have a tremendous impact on our islands. charity harnesses the power of community and proves that when our people care and come together, change for the better is always possible. Generosity is what keeps us going in the Cayman Islands and its what will continue to fuel the legacy of Caymanian kindness that has forever been an integral part of our islands’ culture.”
In the Charitable Organisations category, awards went to for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Cayman Islands, Cayman Islands Branch of the Guide Association – Girl Guides Cayman Islands, Cayman Islands Meals on Wheels, Cayman Islands Red Cross, Rotary Central Cayman Islands, Rotary Club of Grand Cayman, Special Olympics Cayman Islands, Cayman Islands Cancer Society, Girls’ Brigade in the Cayman Islands Ltd and the Lions Club of Grand Cayman for exceptional contributions to the development, enhancement, safety and wellbeing of the community in the Cayman Islands for more than twenty years.