Need for role models emphasised
The North Side District Council hosted a Christmas Gala on Saturday night, using the occasion to recognise 29 people for their contribution to the community.
Six special awards were announced to launch the council’s ‘Hard Work and Determination’ campaign designed to create a mentoring and scholarship programme.
Recipients were former MLA and Speaker of the House Edna Moyle; airline pilots Captain Dalkeith Whittaker and Captain Olsen Anderson; tourism entrepreneur McCurley Greene, Attorney Sheena Frederick Westerborg and Olympic hurdler Ronald Forbes.
Acting Governor Donovan Ebanks, himself a North Sider, saluted the goals of the campaign, noting the district has always been rich in people of good, solid character.
‘Too often we underestimate the value of role models in the formation of our young people,’ he said.
Too often the emphasis is on the best learning environment and the best technology, but he reminded his audience that electricity did not come to North Side until he had already gone to Jamaica to college. ‘My secondary education was by lamplight,’ he recalled and many listeners nodded in remembrance.
‘What we had was people youngsters could look up to,’ Mr. Ebanks said. He had always been proud to be a civil servant, but what mattered more was trying to be a good son to his parents and a good parent to his children.
Christmas is not just about trees and presents, he pointed out. ‘I think too often we tend to fall into the rut of doing on one or two special days of the year what we should be doing all through the year. What you do on Christmas is not going to impress your kids; it’s your relationship with them the other 364 days of the year.’
He urged parents not to apologise for what they didn’t get for their children on Christmas day.
‘I subscribe to the view that children haven’t changed – but as environments change, it is we as parents who haven’t always followed through with the values we were brought up with.’
Community Affairs and Housing Minister Mike Adam brought greetings from Premier McKeeva Bush, who was overseas.
He said Mr. Bush saw a direct link between the ‘Hard Work and Determination’ campaign and the Young Nation Builders Programme designed to empower youth through leadership training and opportunities to serve in the community.
It is important to acknowledge the achievements of successful people and say to children that such contributions to society are highly valued, Mr. Adam said.
On a personal note he congratulated the district council chairman and board members who ‘really transformed this basketball court for a fantastic event.’
In fact, venue for the evening included not only the court, which was filled with banquet tables and comfortable chairs, but also a decorated stage large enough for dancers to perform on, a screen to show interviews with award recipients and the Craddock Ebanks Civic Centre, where a buffet supper was held after the ceremonies.
Although over two and a half hours long, the programme was kept moving by the force of personalities involved, from Dance Unlimited to school and church choirs, award recipients and presenters.
Leader of the Opposition Kurt Tibbetts read Mrs. Moyle’s profile, listing her well-known achievement, but revealing little-known details. The youngest of 11 children, she was just seven when her mother died; her father and older sisters raised her.
‘The loss of her mother could have had negative effects in those formative years,’ Mr. Tibbetts said, ‘but she developed an inner strength from their love and care; she developed a determination to assist others.’
Dalkeith Whittaker had determination, friend Harris McCoy said in his profile. He worked for a year after high school and saved his money to attend flight school and get his pilot certificate. Hired by Cayman Airways he started as a reservations agent. He flew with Island Air before CAL rehired him for the cockpit.
Olsen Anderson started with CAL in 1985 and was told he would never make it, his son Michael related. Instead of giving up, he joined Executive Air and was later hired by United Airlines. He returned to CAL in administrative posts but is now back to flying full time.
Lynn Whittaker presented the profile of her brother, McCleary. He started his career by doing odd jobs at Rum Point, then maintaining vehicles at Cayman Kai. He now owns a rental fleet and two tour buses and employs a staff of four. His advice: ‘Get a job, keep the job and save your money.’
Chief Magistrate Margaret Ramsay-Hale provided Mrs. Frederick-Westerborg’s profile, including her call to the bar in 1993 and service as Crown Counsel before going to the private sector and opening her own firm.
Mrs. Frederick-Westerborg recalled her happy childhood in a close-knit community. ‘I felt I had more than one set of parents,’ she said.
Long-time coach and sports activist Bernie Bush profiled Ronald Forbes. When Ronald was ready to go to college, his visa application was turned down for some inexplicable reason, Mr. Bush related. Instead of giving up, Ronald stayed home and studied.
A year and a half later he got his visa, went to the US and set records in the hurdles. When he qualified for the Olympics, ‘Everybody wanted Ronald to carry the flag… he is not just yours, he belongs to the whole country,’ Mr. Bush told the North Side audience.
Ambassador of Tourism awards were presented to Hal Miller, Lucy Ebanks, Thelda Whittaker, Sissie Ebanks, Barbara Whittaker, Mikol Dise and Teddy Ebanks.
The Community Spirit Award was presented to Pat Ebanks, Alex Johnson, Sue Smith, Sophia Whittaker, Beatrice Chisholm, Monica Wilson, Carol Boulton, Daniel Petts, Mitzie Tomlinson, Erena Ebanks, Blonice Whittaker, Chief Inspector Richard Barrows, Linda Conolly, Jerry Smith and Ira Hydes.
‘Without them the community wouldn’t be what it is today,’ master of ceremonies Floyd Groves said.
Other speakers included district council chairperson Alex Johnson, Archie Whittaker and MLA Ezzard Miller, who gave the vote of thanks.