Duke’s golden girls get together

During the first visit by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, to the Cayman Islands in 1983, five young ladies from West Bay received their Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award from His Royal Highness Prince Philip following the Investiture on the morning of February 17th.

This historic presentation brought the total number of Cayman Islands Gold Award holders to eight, the first having been received by Mrs. Katherine Jackson [nee Bodden] who had received her Gold Award from HRH Prince Philip in St. Lucia on 5th March 1975. The second and third recipients were Mrs. Marisa Crawford [nee Rivers] and Mrs. Gina Ebanks-Petrie, all of West Bay!

Recently four of the five 1983 Gold Award holders – Mrs. Jennifer Dilbert, Miss Deborah Ebanks, Mrs. Jennifer King and Mrs. Gwenda McLean – got together at Eduardo’s Restaurant with Mrs. Katherine Jackson, Mrs. Marisa Crawford and Miss Betty Ebanks to reminisce and celebrate the 25th Anniversary of their achievement! Unfortunately Ms. Sharon Bramwell, the 5th recipient, was off island.

The staff at Eduardo’s created a specially blended drink of various fruit juices which they named ’25’ in recognition of this achievement and celebration. Even after 25 years, the ladies remain friends and keep in touch with each other even though they all lead very busy, professional and personal lives!

It was agreed by all in attendance that one of the best things that happened in their lives was becoming participants in The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.

The programme was introduced to the Cayman Islands by Commander Loftus Peyton-Jones in 1968, after which a pilot programme was started in the West Bay Girls’ Brigade, conducted by Mrs. Ruth Coke.

In 1969, Mrs. Sheila Lockwood-Ridgeway came to Grand Cayman as a teacher at the High School, and being a Gold Award holder herself, was excited to find an awareness of the programme on the island.

She then offered to be the leader of the Brigader section of the West Bay GB Company through which the girls would also work toward gaining their bronze, silver and gold awards.

Today there are a total of 45 Gold Award holders in the Cayman Islands with approximately 124 participants currently undertaking the three awards, namely Bronze, Silver and Gold.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award programme focuses on youth development and provides an opportunity for all young people between the ages of 14 and 25 to participate and fulfill the requirements of four sections namely Service, Skills, Physical Recreation and an Adventurous Journey.

At the Gold level all participants must also complete a residential qualification which is a part of the qualifying annual two-week summer camp and expedition organised by the Caribbean Award Sub-Regional Council [CASC].

Jennifer Dilbert says she is amazed that every time she hosts a function, she remembers what she learnt in The Art of Entertaining. Debbie Ebanks continues to be very much involved in Community Service as a member of the Lions Club of Grand Cayman after being a part of the Leo Club of Grand Cayman, the youth arm of Lions, where her Service criteria was fulfilled.

Marisa, Gwenda and Jennifer King continue participation in the programme by spearheading its chapter in the Girls’ Brigade Savannah Company!

Mrs. Katherine Jackson, National Chairperson of the local Award National Committee since 1989, says the programme has the capacity to bring challenge, discipline and direction to the lives of those young persons who get involved.

‘Our youth are wonderful, and it is always exciting to work with them and to see them grow and achieve as they move from one stage of the Award to the other.

‘It is also gratifying to bring to Committee level those young adults who have now achieved their Gold award.

‘And, there is life after Gold! New leaders are challenged to participate in the International Gold Event held every three years, while other Committee members have an opportunity to attend the tri-annual International Forum.’

Mrs. Jackson would be happy to arrange a presentation of the Award Programme to any youth organisation or corporate entity interested in providing assistance. She can be contacted at email: [email protected] or telephone 925 5291