By Christopher Tobutt
His Excellency the Governor, Mr. Martyn Roper, the Premier, Hon Mr. Wayne Panton, and Deputy Governor, Hon. Franz Manderson all came to the Wharf Restaurant where Cayman Islands Veterans Association (CIVA) were launching their annual Poppy Appeal. There, they greeted some of the 40 members of the Association, before being ceremonially ‘pinned’ with their poppies, signifying the official beginning of the appeal, which runs for a month until Remembrance Day on Sunday 14 November. Then they joined Veterans in a luncheon.
The poppy appeal raises funds for the veterans by selling the blood-red poppies that commemorate all those who have sacrificed so much, including their own lives, for the freedom we enjoy today.
The Veteran’s Association usually raises a lot of funds by its annual Gala, but this year it had to be cancelled because of safety considerations in the face of Covid, leaving the poppy appeal as one of the main fundraisers. During the lunch, several main sponsors who have faithfully stepped up to the plate year after year to support the Veterans. Sponsors included CIBC FCIB’s Managing Director of Wealth Management Dan Wright, C/G Britcay’s Lester Purvis, Stuarts’ Head of Local Business Buck Grizzel and Island Heritage’s Group Chief Underwriting Officer Caroline Mills-White.
“Many veterans depend on us,” Mr. McLaughlin said, “They need help with daily expenses, including food, and utilities. Many of them served at a time when there was not proper provision for pensions, and they have sometimes found it hard to plan for their retirement.”
Giving a recent example of where the CIVA had stepped in to help, Mr. McLaughlin told about a retired British Army officer who had a heart attack when he visited the Cayman Islands and quickly run up a hospital bill of half-a-million dollars at the Shetty Hospital. The fact of airport delays because of Covid had meant that his health insurance had run out, but the Association was able to vouch for the funds until the man was able to get safely home.
The Association also steps in to look after spouses of veterans who have, “Gone to their last post,” Mr. McLaughlin said. Sometimes funds are available, but there is delay or complications involved with filling in the paperwork, so that CIVA is again able to step in to help, “They Know somebody’s got their back,” Mr. McLaughlin said, “They know we’re here to look out for them.”
Premier, the Hon. Wayne Panton, said,”Let me say, it doesn’t matter what the circumstances are, the opportunity to come and spend time with the members of the Veterans Association is a very distinct pleasure. I certainly recognize the contributions they have made, to our country and to the world.
His Excellency the Governor, Martyn Roper said, “This is the part of the year when we remember all those who have lost their lives in wars and battles over many centuries, particularly over the last century, and I know that the veterans association Cayman always do a fantastic job looking after all the veterans and their families and the poppy appeal is one of their main ways of raising funds. I’d really encourage everyone to look out for their poppies and purchase them so we can all wear them and remember those who have made sacrifices so that we, today can live the lives that we live.”