The National Trust must earn the support of the community by being visible, credible and accountable, general manager Frank Roulstone told members and guests at the group’s recent annual general meeting.
Both he and National Trust chairman Carla Reid highlighted activities of the 2004-05 fiscal year, including the purchase of four parcels of land totalling 144 acres within the Mastic Reserve.
The Trust now holds 603 acres in the area of the Mastic Trail. Land held in environmental reserves now totals 2,318 acres in the three Cayman Islands.
This is in keeping with the purpose for which the National Trust was formed by legislators in 1987: preservation of the historic, natural and maritime heritage of the islands… conservation of lands, natural features and submarine areas of beauty, historic or environmental importance
Mr. Roulstone spoke of the need for support from both government and the private sector. The recent land purchase was made possible through the generosity of many companies, he pointed out.
Government had committed to maintain the Trust’s level of funding and provided $235,000. Mr. Roulstone noted that the National Trust was the only non-government organisation that did not receive an increase in funding for the current fiscal year.
Government funds are used to run the Trust office, including utilities, insurance, three salaries and maintenance of the various properties held by the National Trust, Mr. Roulstone explained.
In addition to land purchase, individual and corporate support enables the Trust to run educational programmes for both children and adults. The Trust’s achievements over the past year included the implementation of several such programmes: Know Your Islands demonstrations, traditional cooking classes, mangrove boat tours and the coral reef project.
One measure of the Trust’s success has been the response to these activities: most are sold out well in advance.
Another measure of success is the 26 per cent rise in membership, from a little over 400 in 2004 to 482 now. The number of people involved is greater, but the accounting system counts each family membership as one unit, even though the family may be two adults and two children. In fact, membership is over 600, the general manager reported.
Along with financial support, people have contributed invaluable time and talent. Mr. Roulstone singled out two volunteers, Michelle Pentney and Judith Swain, who help out in the office at least one day per week, and volunteer Desmond Graham, who has worked on the accounts.
Mrs. Reid paid tribute to all Trust council members, singling out Arthurlyn Pedley and the Historic Advisory Committee for their work on the Bodden Town Mission House project.
The Trust’s better known wildlife rescue, blue iguana recovery and bat programmes continue to be successful, Mrs. Reid reported.
Another major contribution was the Eldemire House in Cayman Brac.
All of these ingredients are important in the Trust’s progression towards being involved in tourism.
Cultural heritage travel is a large and lucrative segment of the travel industry, Mr. Roulstone said. But care must be taken that success does not destroy the very things tourists come to see. He invited members and guests to list authentic Caymanian experiences, including cultural activities, local cuisine, historic and natural attractions.
The meeting was held at Pedro Castle. Before and after, an evening of appreciation featured refreshments, music by Coco Red and 19 gate prizes.