By Bina Mani GIS
On Friday the Cayman Islands honoured the first female National Hero with an Official Funeral. Family members, dignitaries and members of the community gathered to collectively bid a highly respectful and heartfelt farewell fitting to Cayman’s first Speaker of the Parliament, the late Hon. Sybil Ione McLaughlin, MBE, JP.
Premier, Hon. Wayne Panton, JP, MP, Speaker, Hon. McKeeva Bush, JP, MP, Opposition MP, Sir Alden McLaughlin and former Speaker, Hon. Mary Lawrence, MBE, JP, grand-daughter Ms Natascha McLaughlin and Mr. Lemuel Hurlston, CVO, MBE, JP, gave touching and insightful tributes at the funeral service held at Elmslie Memorial United Church.
She was lauded for being an extraordinary leader, pioneering career woman, deeply caring community person, immensely loving family member and a national icon. All spoke to the indelible mark she has left in the minds and hearts of the people of the Cayman Islands and beyond.
Following the service, a memorable Hero’s Farewell was accorded at Heroes Square to the departed hero. Given that she was the only person to be bestowed the distinction of being named a National Hero while still being alive, the final ceremony was held in front of her bronze bust which sits in the northwest corner of Heroes Square.
Mourners filed out of the church in a procession on foot and followed the uniformed contingent, the pallbearers and the hearse carrying the casket draped in the Cayman Islands flag from Elmslie Memorial United Church, along Seafarers Way and down Fort Street lined with Cayman Islands flags.
When the procession arrived in Heroes Square, final rites were administered including the folding and presentation of the casket flag to the family by the Premier, the laying of wreaths by family members as well as the Premier, the Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition, and the Acting Police Commissioner followed by a rousing 21-gun salute and the playing of the Last Post and Reveille by a trumpeter.
Earlier in the day, precisely at 9 am, the Islands observed a minute of silence across the nation as a mark of deep respect for the departed National Hero.
Members of the public can view the entire Official Funeral on the Cayman Islands Government YouTube channel.
Detailed coverage of the proceedings will be issued next week.
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