Cayman honours four

2006 Queen’s Birthday Honours

Heather Dianne Bodden

Certificate and Badge of Honour for services to the community

The name Heather Dianne Bodden has become synonymous with compassion, energy and generosity.

Born 13 September 1956, the eldest daughter of Jay and Mary Bodden, she has dedicated most of her adult life to others.

For the last 17 years Ms Bodden has served as chairperson for the Savannah/Newlands Community Development Action Committee, spearheading its annual Senior Citizens Christmas Party, coordinating Heritage Day activities in conjunction with Pirate’s Week, and other projects.

As an organiser and coach, Ms Bodden has dedicated 21 years to the Leo Club of Grand Cayman’s Miss Teen Pageant. She is also a long-serving member and former chairperson for the Miss Cayman Islands Committee, and a member of the Young Caymanian Leadership Award (YCLA) Board.

From 1995 to 2000 Ms Bodden served her Bodden Town constituents as a Member of the Legislative Assembly. She championed many causes such as a safe-house for battered women and their children and creating dedicated parking spaces for handicapped persons.

Demonstrative of the value she places on education, in 1997 she was appointed to the Board of Trustees for the International College of the Cayman Islands. More recently, she serves on the ‘Helping Hands Board’ of her alma mater Truth for Youth School. These institutions have all recognized her achievements: ICCI with an Honorary Master’s degree and Truth for Youth with its Outstanding Past Student Award.

Ms Bodden was especially active post-Ivan, helping many people with their recovery efforts. She was appointed to the Bodden Town District Clean-up Committee, and later as chairperson for the Grand Cayman Beautification Committee.

Over the years Ms Bodden, known to family and close friends as ‘YaYa’, has mastered the art of time management and multi-tasking with her comprehensive daily ‘to-do’ lists. She has lent her abilities to coordinating and organising events to service organisations such as the Lions Club of Tropical Gardens, Kiwanis Club of Grand Cayman, National Drug Council, National Parenting Programme and Cayman Islands Angling Club.

In reflecting on her contributions she says, ‘The community service and projects with which I have been involved are labours of love. Working with other individuals and committees has resulted in many positive achievements which have benefited people in various communities.’

‘I’ve never expected any special recognition for my volunteer work, for whatever I do comes from the heart. In what I’ve done, and am continuing to do, I would like my legacy to be one of service, and of making other people’s lives happier and more comfortable.’

Ms Bodden said she gets special inspiration from others – particularly her family and young people. She especially treasures a recent acrostic poem done by her niece Kristina, which summarizes her traits:

H – Honest

E – Energetic

A – Achiever

T – Talented

H – Hardworking

E – Energetic

R – Radiant

Mrs Carmen Eugenia Conolly

Certificate and Badge of Honour for services to the community

Mrs. Carmen Eugenia Conolly of East End, a woman with an outgoing personality, reaches out to members of the community because she ‘loves people’.

A retired teacher, she is renowned as a ‘connoisseur’ of crafts and embroidery and has been an active and devoted member of the church community in East End since 1955.

She is also a member of the National Museum, the National Gallery, the Agricultural Society and the Cayman Quilting Group. In addition, Miss Carmen holds awards for community service from the Ministry of Community Affairs, the Education Department, the Cayman National Cultural Foundation, the Agricultural Society and the East End Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Born in Honduras in 1936, her parents, mother Elma Watler Wood and father Ambrose Wood, moved to Grand Cayman two years later. Her community involvement can be traced back to these early childhood years. ‘Seeing my mother being active in the community encouraged me to do the same,’ she said.

Miss Carmen married when she was 20 and raised three children while her husband was away at sea. Then she began teaching. She was employed by Government as a craft teacher at the Cayman Islands High School, where she taught her unique skills to others.

Although retired today, craft is still a major part of her daily life. She loves to exhibit and share the skills involved in her work because her desire is to pass her teachings onto others, which she is now fulfilling through volunteer work.

During the week, Miss Carmen volunteers at an older persons programme in the East End Church Hall, where she engages the members in craft, games and outings.

Together with over 15 members of the Cayman Quilting Group, she makes quilts, embroiders and crochets for charities and auctions, as well as for the museum and the hospice. Among the pieces which have gained her much renown is a red tablecloth with the embroidered Cayman Islands Coat of Arms, which was used on the table at which the Queen gave her speech to the Legislative Assembly in 1994. The tablecloth is still used on special state and other occasions.

Her volunteer work extends to after-school programmes as well as to the Young Parenting Programme at the Joyce Hilton Centre, where she teaches crafts.

Members of the East End community enjoy Miss Carmen’s cooking. She loves to bake heavy cakes, rolls and make peppermint candies. These are given out to people she regularly visits in the district, where she helps them through hard times with the gift of prayer.

Miss Carmen concluded, ‘It makes me feel good to help others, and I am very grateful to receive the certificate and badge of honour for community service.’

Mrs. Bernice Zeta Hawkins

Certificate and Badge of Honour for services to the nursing profession

One of the founders of Caymanian nursing, Mrs Bernice Zeta Hawkins is awarded the Cayman Islands Certificate and Badge of Honour. All her life she led by example, being a role model for younger Caymanians in achieving higher education and serving society.

Mrs. Bernice Zeta Hawkins, known to her family and friends as Vernice or Easie, was born on Cayman Brac, in Watering Place, in 1939, to Chrissiebell Tomlinson and Vincent Gourzong.

After completing her early schooling in Cayman Brac, Mrs Hawkins went to university, a remarkable achievement for a young woman of her day, thanks to the support of Carmella and Jim Mclean. She studied at the University Hospital of the West Indies in Mona, Jamaica, obtaining qualifications as a Registered Nursing in 1960, and later qualifying as a midwife in 1963. She pursued further training with the World Health Organisation in Public Health Nursing, in Barbados, and in Nursing Education, in Trinidad.

In 1961, Mrs Hawkins moved to Grand Cayman to live and work, meeting her husband, R. Antonio Hawkins. They had two children, Antonia and Anthony, and helped raise Mrs. Francine Williams.

Between 1961 and 1980, Mrs Hawkins worked at what is now the Health Services Authority. During her years there, her duties expanded from patient care to teaching, nursing supervision and administration. In 1971, Mrs Hawkins became the first instructor for the new Practical Nursing School at the hospital, which was the first World Health Organisation sponsored Practical Nurses’ course in the Caribbean. Graduates from Mrs Hawkins’s tenure continue to serve the community in nursing, midwifery and other areas of medicine.

Mrs Hawkins also helped to found the Cayman Islands Nursing Association and later was honoured with life membership. The award for the Most Outstanding Student at the Practical Nursing School at the Health Services Authority is the ‘Vernice Hawkins Award’.

She believes in the value of pursuing higher education and furthering personal and career development. Through her professional service, teaching and mentoring others, she has influenced generations of Caymanians to pursue professional careers.

Mrs Hawkins especially appreciates that fellow Caymanians have recognized her contributions to the Cayman society and she hopes future generations will continue to appreciate and make full use of educational opportunities now available.

Dr. Sook Yin

Certificate and Badge of Honour for services to the medical profession and charitable organisations

A passion for preventive medicine and commitment to helping the people of the Cayman Islands have earned Dr. Sook Yin, MB.BCH.BAO, the distinction of being honoured with a Cayman Islands Certificate and Badge of Honour, 2006.

Her dedication to her work as a medical practitioner has taken her on a busy career path strewn with altruistic endeavours. These include her roles as Medical Director for the Cayman Islands Cancer Society; Medical Director of the Cayman Islands Amateur Swimming Association; and participation in the Be Active programme currently being implemented in schools.

Her involvement with community organisations is not rooted solely in her professional side, however, but rather emanates from a strong desire to helping people. From the perspective of her profession, her focus in this regard is on educating about the risks, and prevention, of chronic diseases.

‘In the Cayman Islands we regularly see people facing complications from cancer, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease-the most common chronic illnesses that can often be prevented by education and action,’ explains Dr Yin. ‘This is my home and these people I treat are my people, so it motivates me to take action in my daily life, to share my knowledge with any and everyone I can, in every way I feel will make a difference in our society’s overall health.’

She is supported in these initiatives by her family. Married to architect Brian Eccles, the couple have two children-Jaime-Lee, 14, and Sai, 11. Both children have fired another of her passions–the sport of swimming.

When her daughter took up swimming in the late ’90s, Dr Yin saw the impact of the sport. ‘Swimmers are disciplined athletes who develop positive traits that carry over into other parts of their lives. I am so proud of my kids,’ she says. ‘At different times, they each represented the Cayman Islands in the CARIFTA games and have fostered a love of the sport in my heart.’

Swimming has another crucial effect that coincides with her goal of helping others. ‘It is the epitome of ideal exercise because it’s good for anyone; age or weight doesn’t matter,’ she enthuses. ‘Plus, everyone here has access to the biggest swimming pool right in our own backyard, the beautiful Caribbean Sea.’

Dr Yin has not gone unnoticed within the medical community here and abroad. In 2003 she received recognition for Relentless Support towards Community Education and Women’s Health from Baptist Hospital in Miami, Florida, and in 2004 for Tireless Contribution towards Community Awareness Programmes in the Sister Islands and Grand Cayman. She is a member of the Cayman Islands Medial and Dental Society and also an affiliate member of both the American Academy of Family Physicians and the British Medical Association.

Dr. Yin humbly attributes this recognition to being ‘all in a day’s work’, but to those who have benefited from her care, her generosity of spirit sets her apart.

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