It was a day of celebration and
remembrance on Thursday, 9 September, with a ceremony marking the renaming of
the John A. Cumber Primary School and the official naming of the school hall in
honour of the late Shirley Kidd, the school’s former principal.
The school hall was packed with
students, teachers, friends and family of the honourees who heard from speakers
including Mrs. Kidd’s two daughters, Wayedene Kidd-Slydell and Alecia
Kidd-Francis who presented a portrait of their mother to the school; Mr.
Cumber’s son, Mervyn Cumber;Premier McKeeva Bush; and Education Minister
The school was renamed Sir John A.
Cumber to acknowledge Mr. Cumber’s knighting in 1981. Appointed the administrator
of the Cayman Islands in 1964, Mr. Cumber arrived in Cayman at time when the
district’s school classes were conducted in the four corners of the West Bay
town hall. In his address, however, Mr. Bush noted that because of the number
of children, class activities were not only taking place in the corners, but
also in the middle of the hall, on the stage and outside as well.
In 1965, with British development
funds, construction started Island-wide to build new primary schools and in
1966 West Bay Primary was the first to be completed.
On Mr. Cumber’s retirement as
administrator in 1968, the school was renamed the John A. Cumber Primary School
and the younger Mr. Cumber noted in his address that his father was flattered
After leaving the Cayman Islands,
Mr. Cumber subsequently joined Britain’s largest charity, the Save the Children
Fund. Starting as a field officer in the Sudan, he rose through the
organisation to eventually become director general. Knighted by the Queen for
services to the Commonwealth, he retired in 1985 and died in 1991. He was
further honoured in Cayman when his name was added to the Heroes’ Wall in front
of the court house.
“Although he has now passed on, I
believe my father would have been overwhelmed to know that your present
leaders, particularly Mr. McKeeva and Mr. Rolston implemented the idea to add
to my father’s final honour to the school name,” said Mr. Cumber.
“On behalf of my family and myself,
we thank the people of West Bay for this honour and we hope you will be as
proud of your school name as we are.”
The naming of the school hall after
Mrs. Kidd, who passed away in 2004, honoured a respected educator who took
great pride in her work. In 1972 Mrs. Kidd migrated from her native Jamaica to
Cayman Brac, where she taught for a year. She was then transferred to Grand
Cayman where she continued her career for the next 32 years. She taught at John
A. Cumber Primary for 23 years and was promoted first to vice principal and
then principal in 1996. With a warm and gentle manner she maintained a good
rapport with her staff and under her leadership those who knew her remarked
that John A. Cumber was more than just a school; it was a family.
Guests and families
of the honourees were also treated to a performance of the school song by the