In 1986 a small group of people came together to promote a cause dear to their individual and collective hearts: Cayman orchids.
Their objectives included supporting the conservation of orchids in nature, publicising information about local orchids and stimulating an awareness of their cultural, economic, aesthetic and ecological importance.
They looked forward to propagating the rarer specimens and being recognised as an entity that developers could call to collect orchids before land was cleared.
They dreamt of holding major exhibitions devoted exclusively to orchids.
Those goals are still in focus today. Some have been attained; others are still pursued.
Education about orchids, for example, may well have been the reason members of the public voted for the banana orchid to be Cayman’s national flower. That choice was confirmed by the government of the day in February 1996, when national symbols were adopted.
Last weekend’s orchid show proved the success of the annual event. It has grown from a display in a member’s yard to a sophisticated exhibit held at the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park.
It was during a preview on Friday night that founding members of the Orchid Society were honoured. Government Minister Charles Clifford, whose responsibilities include both tourism and environment, saluted them for their ongoing efforts and presented distinctive awards.
Those recognised included Mrs. Joyce Hylton, the Orchid Society’s first president; Mr. Alson Ebanks, its first vice-president; Mrs. Rena Reid of Cayman Brac; Mr. Frank Roulstone, the society’s first audio-visual coordinator.
The following morning, financial recognition was received when a local business acknowledged ongoing efforts and presented a cheque to assist with the orchid propagation process.
Mr. Kirkland Nixon, himself a member of the Orchid Society, was master of ceremonies for Friday night’s programme. He was recognised for his work as chairman of the Tourism Attractions Board.