Veteran public servant retires

The Chief Secretary, Deputy Chief Secretary and Portfolio of the Civil Service colleagues recently gathered to celebrate the retirement of Colin Ross from the position of Chief Officer of the Portfolio of the Civil Service.

After 31 years of service, Friday, 23 June was his final work day.

During a luncheon at the Lighthouse Restaurant, Mr. Ross was lauded for his professional accomplishments over the years, and for his outstanding personal characteristics, said a GIS press release.

Head of the Civil Service, Chief Secretary George McCarthy, congratulated Mr. Ross for ‘making a significant contribution to the Cayman Islands as the Deputy Head of the Civil Service, as a principal, teacher and in other capacities.’

Deputy Chief Secretary Donovan Ebanks echoed these remarks, and thanked Mr. Ross for his outstanding work. ‘Cayman has benefited from your career and brilliance. Your effectiveness would not have been what it was without your air of humility and caring,’ he said.

Mr. Ross described his civil service career as ‘an exhilarating experience.’ Responding to the toasts and plaudits, he said, ‘I came permanently to the Cayman Islands on 28 August of 1975 at the age of 28, and by September I was promoted to Head of English – which I think must be the quickest promotion in the history of the civil service! From the very outset, I considered my time in these Islands as an immense blessing.

‘Though not an indigenous Caymanian, I’ve not had anything but the highest respect and kindness shown to me by the many people I have worked with. I feel extremely privileged to have had the opportunities to contribute in the various areas I have worked in – education, health and the Portfolio of the Civil Service.

Mindful of the importance of teamwork, Mr. Ross added, ‘If I’ve made a difference in the Portfolio, and made successful changes, it has only been possible because of the support of the portfolio staff, from whom I learned much.’

Other speakers described Mr. Ross’s distinguished academic career which included earning two master’s degrees and many years teaching, (over a decade of which was as principal of George Hicks High School), before transferring to a senior policy decision-making level.

Mr. Peter Gough, who is his successor, said, ‘This is a celebration of a long and distinguished career. Mr. Ross has ended his service at the top of his profession. Well done! You have done all the things you set out to do. I will miss your friendship and counsel on many matters. I will especially remember you inspiring representatives of 22 Caribbean countries at a conference when you declared the ‘good news of civil service reform’.’

The Portfolio of the Civil Service’s Chief Officer Designate, Mary Rodriguez, and other officials, mentioned the broad scope of Mr. Ross’ influence throughout the community, especially on his many former students.

Portfolio staff noted that his emphasis was on getting work done more efficiently and expeditiously, while always treating his colleagues like family.

It was also revealed that, working alongside his staff, Mr. Ross led the recent complete revision of General Orders, which presently directs the actions of all civil servants. That final document came into effect on 10 May, 2005. He was further charged with the development of the new Public Service Management Law, which was passed in the LA last December.

Deputy Chief Officer, Public Sector Management in the Portfolio Ian Fenton, noted, ‘This marks an important part of the Portfolio’s transition, and we are delighted to express our appreciation and deep respect to Mr. Ross as he leaves a stressful and hectic job. He has been firm and by the book, but with compassion for the individual.’

These sentiments were echoed throughout his portfolio. Manager, Operational Human Resources, Francene Roach said, ‘I most appreciated his kindness, and the fact that he did not make hasty decisions, but used the ethos that when in doubt, always thinking of how the Legislative Assembly, (and by default, the general public) will view your decisions.’

Mr. Ross was also given a song tribute by Carol Best-Gould, and was presented with gifts including a black coral carving of the Cayman Islands.

The veteran public servant said he is looking forward to enjoying a ‘good, long rest,’ and to continuing his backyard farming. His prowess as a subsistence gardener was appreciated over the years by colleagues who benefited from the fruit and vegetables he produced.

Mr. Ross also anticipates catching up on a lot of reading, as well as enjoying the music collection he has been unable to listen to for so long.

He and his wife Regina will also be continuing to guide their teenage daughter Christina, who will soon be pursuing ‘A’-level studies at St. Ignatius School.

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