In addition to the two new
Caymanians made Members of the Order of the British Empire, local New Year’s
Honours for 2011 also went to eight Cayman Islands residents.
Governor Duncan Taylor named Mrs.
Mary Elizabeth Blake, Mr. Hartmann Morgan DaCosta, Ms Reba Dilbert, Ms Audrey
Ebanks, Mr. Rodney Alan Hansen, Ms Ellen Rose Sherman, Lt. (sg) Dave C.
Thompson and Ms Zemrie Estella Thompson to receive the Cayman Islands
Certificate and Badge of Honour.
The MBE recipients were Legislative
Assembly Speaker Mrs. Mary Jannet Lawrence, and cat boat expert, Mr. William Kemuel
Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Blake
Born in George Town to Martin and
Madre-Mae Bodden, Mrs. Blake is the oldest of seven children and aspired to be
a nurse since she was just three years old.
In an era when the Islands lacked
medical facilities, homeopathic remedies were routinely used to treat ailments.
Most people self-treated symptoms, ensuring that key herbs grew in their yards
or were otherwise easily accessible.
She’s witnessed three renovations
to the George Town Hospital and has worked in every section and department. She
is currently the Sterile Processing Department supervisor.
Believing that her blessings are gifts
to use to help others, she has assisted many needy, abused and discouraged
individuals. Past roles as vacation bible school and Sabbath school teacher,
and more recently as women’s ministry leader, have enabled her to spearhead
initiatives that provided families with a source of comfort and hope during
times of loss.
Initially surprised by her
Certificate and Badge of Honour nomination for services to the Civil Service,
church and community, she now reflects: “I never did any of this for
recognition or reward, but my mother always said that we are being watched and
that we should do everything to the glory and honour of God.”
Mr. Hartmann Morgan DaCosta
Starting his working life as a
17-year-old seaman, Mr. DaCosta, now 74, rapidly grasped the value of honest
labour and the hard-earned dollar. He rose to third engineer by dint of study
and diligent effort.
He translated his experience into a
thriving business career, working first with his brothers to operate Puritan
Cleaners and then launching his own Meadac Supply Co. Ltd. The company now
employs 40 persons, including several family members.
An active social conscience
motivated Mr. DaCosta to become a Rotarian. With a fellow Rotarian, he
established Junior Achievement in the Cayman Islands, a programme that has
empowered numerous teens, instilling in them business acumen, ethics and
Other significant Rotary-linked
achievements include his fundraising for international and local community
projects, especially bus shelters, wheelchair-accessible ramps and the T.E.
McField building, used for after-school programmes.
A justice of the peace since 1994,
Mr. DaCosta has also positively influenced children’s lives as a sitting
lay-magistrate in Juvenile Court. And, as one of the first recruits in Cayman’s
Special Constabulary Force, he provided countless hours of community service
for which he was awarded a long-service medal.
And as a council member and
Seafarers Association president, Mr. DaCosta also aims to establish a museum
and a memorial wall inside Seafarers Hall to further cement the Islands’
Ms Reba Dilbert
Hear Ms Dilbert’s name and dazzling
creations that have graced local and international pageant and competition
runways or adorned revellers during some 20 Batabano and Pirates Week
celebrations readily come to mind.
In her hands, fabric, feathers,
wire, shells, glue and glitter are all artfully transformed into colourful,
unforgettable and award-winning costumes. And as Cayman’s only costume
designer, she is revered for her creative talent.
She was nominated in 2009 for an
International Design Awards at the Platinum level, selected from a field of
nine. Before that she was awarded first place in the 2008 IDA Professional-Avant
Garde Women’s category.
In 1998, the Cayman National
Cultural Foundation nominated her for outstanding work in costume design. Then,
after establishing a non-profit organisation for designing pageant-wear and
offering modelling and etiquette training to young ladies, her costumes
captured the attention of international judges.
The first international awards came
when her creations won best national costume at the 2002 Miss Bikini World and
Miss Tourism World competitions held in Malta and Turkey. That same year she
was awarded Longest Batabano Participant, having designed costumes for the
annual festival for two decades.
By 2003 Ms Dilbert had added a
Golden Apple Award and the title World’s Best International Fashion Designer to
her growing repertoire.
She has earned over 16 local awards
for her festival costume contributions and has designed national costumes for
numerous Miss Teen and Miss Universe participants.
Mrs. Audrey Ebanks
Born and raised in Savannah, the
oldest sister to six siblings, Mrs. Audrey Ebanks soon became the family nurturer.
Now a gentle and modest
octogenarian, throughout the years, she has steadfastly carried that nurturing
quality into her community and church, becoming a source of strength and
inspiration to all.
Her neighbours are richer for her
work; never wealthy, she still helped many and while neither of her two
marriages produced children, she became a mother figure to numerous children,
most of whom still cherish her kindness today.
Mrs. Ebanks kept accounts for
Cayman’s first electric company (later CUC) for 25 years until her retirement.
She then functioned in a similar capacity for Maedac Supply Company until
failing health curtailed that work.
She remains involved in the
Islands’ drug rehabilitation services and continues as a member of Cayman
Against Substance Abuse. She has also been an International College of the
Cayman Islands trustee since its inception and has a certificate of appreciation
Equally revered for her involvement
with Savannah’s Church of God (Full Gospel) for the last 64 years, Mrs. Ebanks
is still an asset. Over the years, she served as secretary, treasurer and
Sunday school superintendent, positively impacting many young lives in the
And she is also venerated for
serving as church preacher for two years after the pastor died and a replacement
could not be found.
Today, despite failing health, Mrs.
Ebanks continues to serve as treasurer to the church council and records
sermons to be aired on their radio show, Gospel of the Kingdom Echoes.
Mr. Rodney Alan Hansen
What began 19 years ago as a
business interest for seasoned broadcast entrepreneur Mr. Hansen grew into an
abiding love for the Cayman Islands that was nurtured through broadcast
When two local businessmen with
broadcast licences contacted him in California, Mr. Hansen contributed both the
expertise and financing that enabled cable television in particular, to take
root in Cayman. For 30 years, he had built cable companies in several US
states, as well as France and Bermuda, but it was Cayman, where he is now a
citizen, that captured his heart.
The Wisconsin native and ex-US
Marine eventually bought out three licensees, merging CITN and CTS operations
to provide free–to-air broadcasts and cable through Westar TV Ltd and
In the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan
in 2004, his team produced a documentary titled 36 Hours, which raised $2
million together with CITN’s telethon for the Cayman Islands National Recovery
Fund. The community also benefits from fund-raising events promoted by his station,
including the National Council of Voluntary Organisations and the drug rehab
His leadership has helped establish
significant social projects such as the Young Caymanian Leadership Awards
Foundation that honours character and hard work, producing leaders and role
models for younger generations.
He has also launched the Rod Hansen
West Star television scholarship, providing an annual US$ 10,000 grant to
Caymanian students studying communications. The first recipient is a full-time
employee in his company; the second is studying in the US.
Mrs. Ellen Rose Sherman
Bodden Town native Mrs. Sherman was
raised in Cayman Islands during an era when the community was the extended family
and everyone looked out for their neighbours.
That awareness regarding service to
her fellows sparked a lifetime dedicated to helping others, which has now
earned her the Cayman Islands Certificate and Badge of Honour for contributions
to the civil service, the church and the community.
She spent 21 dedicated years as a
Civil Aviation Authority security officer, but found her greatest expression in
serving the wider community. Especially interested in young people’s
involvement in sports, Mrs. Sherman did much to impact their lives, such as
providing meals for those who attended Bodden Town’s Annual Football Summer
As a chaperone for the Mustang
Track Team 2007-2009, she also accompanied a young group to the Caribbean Union
of Teachers Games and to Florida’s Bay Area Youth Track and Field meet. She
also frequently transported young people from the eastern districts’ primary
schools to the Truman Bodden Sports Complex for preparatory training.
A stalwart in Bodden Town United
Church, Mrs. Sherman has organised Sunday school events, sports days, garden
parties and fundraisers.
Mrs. Sherman is also keen to see
Cayman’s youth excel academically and as such has for many years actively
supported the Bodden Town Primary School PTA. She is also a member of the
Bodden Town Beautification Committee.
Mrs. Sherman has been married to
Morris for 29 years. They have four children, 17 grandchildren, one
great-grandson and two step-children.
Lt. (sg) Dave C. Thompson
Mr. Thompson has served the Cadet
Corps since its inception eight years ago; for his dedicated service he is
awarded the Cayman Islands Certificate and Badge of Honour.
“I feel that it’s the moral
responsibility of every citizen to get involved in activities that will help
the youth, the community and the country,” Mr. Thompson says and having served
with the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service between 1978 and 1985, he
certainly gained a better understanding of the problems facing Cayman’s youth.
When the opportunity to volunteer
with the Cadet Corps came knocking in 2002, Mr. Thompson saw it as his chance
to help transform young lives in the early stages and to set them on a positive
path before negative influences could hold sway.
The Cayman Islands Cadet Corps
helps youngsters aged 12 to 17 build character by teaching them life skills as
well as practical survival disciplines. Cadet training focuses on leadership,
team work, confidence, self-reliance, respect, citizenship and more.
Cadets can also participate in the
Business and Technology Education Council programme, and earn up to four GCSEs.
While he has been involved in all
aspects of the Cadet Corps, currently, Mr. Thompson’s main role involves
training new recruits.
Mr. Thompson is fleet manager at
CUC where he has worked for the last 24 years.
He is married, and has five children.
Ms Zemrie Thompson
She has an office, but hardly
spends time in there; her phone constantly rings but there is rarely a day with
sufficient hours to respond to everything, for there is always someone needing
a helping hand, a listening ear or a soothing touch.
These are the trademarks of
Children and Family Services’ Community Development Coordinator Zemrie Estella
Thompson, whose services to the community and especially to the Islands’ seniors,
have brought her the Cayman Islands Certificate and Badge of Honour in the
latest New Year’s listing.
Having launched her civil service
career as a Department of Education secretary, Ms Thompson later transferred to
the Department of Immigration where she was an immigration officer for close to
a decade. A second transfer followed, to the Department of Children and Family
Services where she has since been helping her community.
But even after 26 years of social
service, Ms. Thompson shows no signs of slowing down. She speaks
enthusiastically about the next 12 months that she plans to fill with home
visits, shopping trips and computer classes for the elderly as well as events
such as the seniors’ wellness fair and the now famous annual seniors’ retreat
and October Celebration Bash.