Historic Pedro St. James, with its manicured lawns, dramatic sea views and iconic great house, was the elegant venue for this year’s International Day of Older Persons Garden Party. Hosted and organised by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), the sunny, outdoor event attracted nearly 300 seniors.
The inaugural event of the activity-filled month-long Older Persons Month observance formally opened with the National Song sung by Savannah Primary School choir. Mrs. Maureen Idalee Scott from Cayman Brac gave the opening prayer. Master of Ceremonies DCFS Deputy Director Rayle Roberts welcomed attendees including Community Affairs Councillor Austin Harris, Councillors David Wight and Barbara Conolly, MLA for North Side Ezzard Miller and former MLA Kurt Tibbetts.
Councillor Austin Harris tendered the Minister of Community Affairs’ apologies before delivering an Older Persons Month Message. He spoke of the commitment of the government and the DCFS to work towards improving the lives of seniors and gave a special mention to the observance’s sponsors.
“The theme for this month’s appreciation of those aged 65 and older is “Positive Ageing’. I believe that it reflects the continuing focus of the Ministry of Community Affairs and Department of Children and Family Services to promote and assist our aging population.
“We know for a fact that people are living longer, not just in the Cayman Islands, but the world over, as such your Coalition Government of National Unity stands firm in supporting the Older Persons Law, 2017 that promotes, protects and advances the well-being of older persons and underpins the ambitions of the Cayman Islands Older Persons Policy (2016-2035). Specifically, the law seeks to promote, for our seniors, access to services, social inclusion and anti-discriminatory practices.”
Councillor Harris then welcomed the Ministry’s new Deputy Chief Officer, Joan West-Dacres, on her first day of work.
Ministry of Community Affairs’ Chief Officer, Teresa Echenique and DCFS Director Paulinda Mendoza-Williams also introduced and recognised the Ambassadors for 2019.
This year’s ambassadors: Mrs. Beulah McField, Mr. John E. Ebanks, Mr. McFarlane Conolly, Mrs. Beulah McField and Mrs. Idalee Scott were present. The Director read out their biographies, outlining distinguished community service track records, before the Chief Officer congratulated them, giving each their plaques. The ambassadors, including Mrs. Scott who attended with other seniors from the Brac, received warm applause.
Formalities completed, attendees either watched or took part in the Garden Party activities including dancing to the Regeneration Band. Guests took part in a cake walk, a fresh local produce raffle - officiated and contributed to in part by Mr. Tibbetts, and a fancy hat competition. Attendees were regaled by the amusing antics of the wildly costumed junkanoo and watched: quadrille dancing by Dreamcatchers, a greasy pole trial. They also sampled Chef Thomas Tennant’s Lion Fish fritters at the Tom Foodery’s food tasting stall.
Attendees then had a buffet dinner with cool-down beverages, served by the Lions Club of Grand Cayman members, and other volunteers, which afforded more opportunities for socialising. Attendees also visited the Public Service Pensions Bureau (PSPB) and Cayman Islands Hazard Management stalls for advice and giveaways. PSPB is one of Older Persons Month major sponsors and paid for the event’s catering.
The garden party ended with a vote of thanks and closing remarks by Mrs. Mendoza Williams.
“Today we celebrate International Day of Older Persons and launch the month-long series of events to celebrate Older Persons Month. I wish to express sincere appreciation to our many sponsors, public and private sector partners and departmental staff for making today’s event such an unqualified success.”
Harking back to the current OPM theme she said: “In recognising our older persons, let’s not forget it is our civic duty as a community to ensure they age positively. As a nation: our social care, economic and cultural structures must be inclusive of our older persons.”
(L-r) Councillor Barbara Conolly, DCFS Director Paulinda Mendoza-Williams, Older Persons Month Ambassador Beulah McField, Older Persons Month Ambassador McFarlane Connolly, Older Persons Month Ambassador John E. Ebanks, Ministry of Community Affairs Chief Officer Teresa Echenique, Older Persons Month Ambassador Mrs. Idalee Scott, MoCA’s Deputy Chief Officer Joan West-Dacres and Councillor David Wight at the International Day of Older Person Garden Party at Pedro St. James on Tuesday, 1 October 2019