Queen’s Honours recipients

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has recognised two prominent members of the Caymanian community in her 2008 New Year’s Honours list.

John Bryan Bothwell and Rex Herbert Crighton are made Members of the Order of the British Empire.

Mr. Bothwell is honoured for his services to the community and the financial industry in the Cayman Islands. Mr. Crighton is honoured for his services to the development of the Cayman Islands, and charitable interests.

John Bryan Bothwell, MBE

John Bryan Bothwell

John Bryan Bothwell

John Bryan Bothwell started his banking career at a time when all the younger bankers and lawyers on Grand Cayman barely made a full soccer team.

‘Back in the 1960s we all had to play together, because there weren’t too many of us,’ he recalled. Law firms were often one-person businesses, and only a few high school graduates got Dr.afted into the banking industry.

‘Career-wise, there wasn’t much choice. Quite a few of my classmates went abroad or to sea. I was lucky to get a position at a bank, just as offshore banking was taking off,’ Mr. Bothwell explained.

Since those early days, Mr. Bothwell has become well known for his contributions to the Cayman Islands’ community, and to its financial industry; he is therefore being honoured as a Member of the Order of the British Empire.

Mr. Bothwell holds the distinction of being the second native Caymanian (after Truman Bodden) to qualify as an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Bankers, having opted to study for the Trustee Diploma, ‘which proved fortuitous as international private banking and trust services surged in Cayman,’ Mr. Bothwell said.

Employed in the banking and trust industry in Cayman for more than 35 years, he started out as a banking clerk for Barclays Bank in 1966. Three years later he joined Cayman International Trust Company Limited and worked his way up to chief executive in 1981. After Ansbacher Group acquired CITCo in 1989, he became an executive director of Ansbacher (Cayman) Limited. In 1996 he became the sole managing director for both companies.

Throughout his career Mr. Bothwell has been actively involved in various associations, advisory committees and government boards, including the Financial Secretary’s Private Sector Consultative Committee, and the Companies Law Revision Committee; the Cayman Islands Stock Exchange’s Council; the Caymanian Protection Board, as deputy chairman for five years; the Parole Commissioner’s Board; and the Education Council. Mr. Bothwell also chaired the National Council of Voluntary Organisations, in its early years.

He served as governor and chairman of the Cayman Islands Community College, and is a founder and former president of the Cayman Islands Bankers’ Association, where he chaired the training and education committee for some years.

Mr. Bothwell said he has seen interesting times in these positions – for example, in advisory roles when the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with the US was negotiated in the early 1980s, and with more recent initiatives by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the Financial Action Task Force.

Looking back, Mr. Bothwell emphasised that he has never regretted his chosen path, and that he especially enjoys the relationships he’s built with clients and colleagues.

After retirement in October 2001, Mr. Bothwell planned on living the quiet island life and spending more time with his other passions – his family, community and church service, gardening and deep sea fishing. Instead, he stayed busy, serving the community on boards and committees, seemingly ‘spending all the time in meetings.’

He is now chairman of the National Pensions Board, and a non-executive director of the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority. He also is a non-executive director and chair of Caribbean Utilities Company’s audit committee.

Always an active church member, Mr. Bothwell serves as deputy general secretary, with responsibility for Cayman, for the United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. He also chairs Cayman Prep and High School’s Board of Governors.

Apart from his activities in Cayman and Jamaica, he has served on the Financial Advisory Group of the Council for World Mission, a registered UK charity.

Guided all his life by the Christian principles that his parents, John and Sarah Bothwell, instilled in him, Mr. Bothwell says that integrity should be at the top of everyone’s list.

‘Work hard, and do your best at whatever you are doing,’ he advised.

He and his wife of 35 years, Andrea Bothwell, have two grown children, John and Amber.

Rex Herbert Crighton, MBE

Rex Crighton

Rex Crighton

For almost 50 years Rex Crighton has been a leading player in land development for the Cayman Islands, at the beginning venturing into the field with very little idea of the industry’s workings.

But this Caymanian persisted, enduring those days when Grand Cayman – with a population of only about 7,500 – had very few buyers for developed land.

‘Most of this development we did,’ he says, standing before a map of Grand Cayman and spreading out his hands to cover a dense housing area from Savannah-Newlands to Prospect. ‘This whole area is ours.’

It is for this work, and for his contributions to charity, that Mr. Crighton has been honoured as a Member of the Order of the British Empire.

Mr. Crighton has developed and sold – or is in the process of selling – an estimated 5,000 house lots, with a total worth of more than US$350,000,000. At the upper end of properties that Crighton Real Estate now has on the market is a US$7.7 million, 259,510 sq. ft plot of land in Crystal Harbour.

Within that same area, the company sold a 120,600 sq. ft. piece for US$4.2 million; there also are eight plots of varying sizes going for more than $1 million, many of which are either already sold or pending.

Upon being named to the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list for 2008, Mr. Crighton – or Rex, as he is familiarly known – remembered his humble beginnings.

He began work in the early 1950s as an employee of Jamaica Public Works, building the airport on Grand Cayman and earning $28 every two weeks. Mr. Crighton quit that job in 1954 to follow the traditional path for Caymanian men: He went to sea. Working aboard large tankers, he rapidly moved up the ranks to become an engineer.

Returning to Grand Cayman for a vacation in 1958, he met his wife-to-be, Mary Cecile Merren. A year later he left the seafaring life to move home, and in 1961 he married Miss Merren. At that time, Mr. Crighton also recalled that his good friend, Jim Bodden, with whom he attended the Savannah School, was restless about getting into some form of investment.

They decided to jointly go into real estate, and began with land in Prospect. Owing to their inexperience, the first attempt at creating subdivisions did not go well. ‘We didn’t know what we were doing, to be honest with you,’ Mr. Crighton acknowledged. But they learned from their mistakes.

He and Mr. Bodden continued the partnership for 25 years, until Mr. Bodden’s passing.

With a tiny population, the real estate business initially yielded little. ‘It was slow going, very slow. But we made a living out of it.’

The partners eyed the American market for buyers, but needed a US Department of Housing and Urban Development certification before they could advertise Grand Cayman’s land for sale. They never got one.

Similar restrictions existed in Canada, and they got around that by forming a partnership with some persons there. That linkup went well, until one of the Canadians falsely advertised swamp land on Grand Cayman as developed property. Mr. Crighton said such greediness was not for him, and the association was disbanded.

But by this time the local market was picking up, and he concentrated on land development, because attempts at selling houses did not go as well. ‘I (built) about 40 houses, but I had a lot of problems getting the last payment from people,’ he said.

Today Mr. Crighton is still managing the real estate business, and his voice is as vibrant as any. His age? ‘Too old, 73 pushing 21,’ is how he responds.

During this interview, a staff member called into his office enquiring when he intended to be Santa to the hundreds of children who, along with parents and guardians, visit the Christmas wonderland that his yard becomes annually. ‘The 22nd,’ he responds. ‘More and more children coming – let’s ensure we have gifts for all.’

Mr. Crighton and his wife have one son, two daughters, and five grandchildren.