Memorial benches at Botanic Park

The Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park now offers a new way to remember the lives of loved ones and mark the occasions that make life worth living.

By dedicating a teak bench or swing, engraved as a permanent tribute, residents and visitors to the park can use this new programme to breathe new life and purpose into their memories, said a press release from the Tourism Attraction Board.

The first memorial bench was dedicated on Thursday, 5 June at 10 am by the owners of the Retreat at Rum Point to honour the memory of architect William ‘Bill’ Bissell.

Described as the driving force who developed the Caribbean firm of Onions Bouchard & McCulloch into the multinational powerhouse of OBM International, Mr. Bissell passed away on 1 December at age 64. To commemorate Mr. Bissell’s extraordinary life and accomplishments, his friends turned to the Botanic Park’s new memorial bench programme for a fitting tribute.

‘The Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park Memorial Bench Program is a lasting and meaningful way to honour people and organisations who have made a difference’, said John Lawrus, Deputy Manager at the Botanic Park. ‘The program provides a special way to honour a loved one, celebrate a special event in your life, or honour a person or organisation that has made a difference in the community.’

The seat that was selected in memory of Mr. Bissell is called the Windermere Bench. It is five feet long, made of weather-resistant teak wood, and bears an engraved inscription. This bench is the first of its kind at the Park, providing both comfort and beauty. Contributions garnered from the memorial bench programme support the ongoing conservation efforts for which the park is widely recognised, said the release.

Mrs Sally Harding, speaking on behalf of the Retreat at Rum Point, noted the appropriateness of using the Botanic Park as a memorial venue. ‘We thought at first that we would want a bench on Retreat property. But then we felt that a wider range of people should have an opportunity to appreciate his life.’ The engraved inscription on the bench reads: In loving memory of William ‘Bill’ Bissell, architect and sustaining member of the Retreat family. Ms Harding further noted, ‘I think somehow that it’s fitting [for this bench] to be the first.’

Other seat styles available through the Botanic Park’s memorial bench programme include six and eight foot versions of the Windermere bench, two Windermere swings, and two Brunswick tree rings.

Gilbert Connolly, CEO of the Tourism Attraction Board offered his support of this new programme. ‘On behalf of the Tourism Attraction Board, I want to commend the staff at the Botanic Park for developing it. These memorial benches will integrate this attraction even more firmly into Caymanian history and heritage.’

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