Seafarers honour the late Gwen Bush
Three government ministers, along with representatives from the Ministry of Education, the Scholarship Secretariat, the Seafarers’ Association and the family of the late Gwen Bush, gathered at the George Town Library on 10 February to witness the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to offer a new yearly scholarship that would bear her name.
Ms Bush was responsible for recruiting and processing men to go to sea during the golden age of seafaring in the Cayman Islands.
The Gwen Bush Memorial Scholarship, which started as a dream for Seafarers’ President Cardinal Da Costa, became reality when he approached Education Minister Rolston Anglin with the idea. The two agreed that in addition to the new academies being named after the four most prominent ships built in the Cayman Islands, this would be a fitting way to commemorate Ms Bush, as well as to revive ship building, which was a major part of life here. Not long after, an announcement was made at a Seafarers’ Association General Meeting that the government, the Seafarers’ Association and the Cat Boat Association would be coming together to offer an annual grant, similar to traditional scholarships, but this particular offer is for those who aspire to pursue the area of ship building.
A representative from both associations will sit on the interview panel for the scholarship, which will offer recipients up to $20,000 per year.
“The Cayman Islands were renowned the world over for the ships that were built here. This legacy is extremely important to who we are and one that we need to revive among our people,” said Minister Anglin, who added that, “When we tell children that there was a time when ships were built here that were as long as their school hall, the look of amazement on their faces is something to behold. This was extremely important for us to do, and the minute I heard of the idea, it resonated with me. Ever since I was a little boy I would hear about Ms Gwen.”
The Memorandum of Understanding to launch the Gwen Bush Memorial Scholarship is part of a historical, cultural and historical milestone, said Deputy Premier Juliana O’Connor Connolly, who thanked the Mr. Anglin for his foresight and the speed with which the scholarship undertaking came together.
“It is a good marriage with a young minister, who can bridge our history with our present generation. Seamen built the Cayman Islands and the stipend they each receive is a token of gratitude. This is another step in that progression,” she said.
Hope for return of schooners
Also on hand for the morning’s event was Minister for Housing Mike Adam. He said he hoped the day would come when schooners were built in Cayman once again.
“The Western Union, a popular schooner in Key West, was actually built here in the Cayman Islands. It is still sailing, and I have heard that it is now for sale. It would be great if we could bring her back home. It is a pity what happened with the Goldfield.”
Mr. Adam added that he would love to see a ship building museum one day.
John Bodden, the son of Ms Bush, told those on hand that the occasion was quite an honour.
“My mother was a special person who believed in hard work. Your reward was your pay. She would always say that fame and fortune go as fast as they come, but a good education is forever,” he said.
He and his wife Nancy, as well as his brother Dave, received a copy of the MOU for posterity.
President of the Seafarers’ Association Hartman Da Costa, thanked Mr. Anglin and said it was a dream come true to get the scholarship together. He invited everyone to visit the Seafarers’ Hall to learn more about their heritage.
President of the Cat Boat Association Jerris Miller said it gave him a lot of pride to be involved with the scholarship, as he had had the privilege of knowing Ms Bush personally.
He also guaranteed that boat building would happen in the Cayman Islands once again.
Mr. Miller’s son, Ned J. Miller, is the first recipient of the scholarship and is currently attending the International Yacht Restoration School.