Stamps celebrate Cayman pioneers

Builder, midwife, nurse and police officer honoured

Following the first stamp issue of Pioneers in Our History, the Cayman Islands Postal Service is inviting nominations for the second in a series. 

The inaugural stamp set features architect and shipbuilder Captain Rayal Bodden, midwife Almeria Labertha McLaughlin Tomlinson, Major Joseph Rodriguez (Roddy) Watler and nurse Irksie Leila Yates. 

At a reception celebrating the stamp release on 11 November, Postmaster General Sheena Glasgow said the series was always planned as “a living, breathing issue in which the public would be able to participate by nominating pioneers.”  

The original working title was Founders, but members of the Stamp Advisory Committee decided that Pioneers of Our History better described the nature of the series, Ms Glasgow said. 

The criteria set by the Stamp Advisory Committee are that the person nominated should have been deceased for at least 10 years and that he or she made a significant contribution to the national development of these Islands. Individuals may be nominated in the categories of maritime, architecture, science, environment, health care, politics, sports, arts, education or performance. 

“What we are asking the public to do when making a nomination is to complete it with the person’s biographies and several pictures of that person,” Ms Glasgow said. 

The Pioneers format is unique to Cayman’s postal service because the stamp for each honouree is available in a set of six as a page in a booklet that contains the individual’s biography.  

Captain Rayal Brazley Bodden Sr., 1885-1976, was a skilled architect and shipbuilder. His works included the vessels Lady Slater and the Cimboco. He designed and constructed the Elmslie Memorial Church, as well as the General Post Office, Public Library and Town Clock, and the town halls in West Bay, Bodden Town and East End, among other landmark buildings. He also served as a Justice of the Peace and was awarded the MBE. His stamp is the 25 cent denomination, with the book of six for $1.50. 

Mrs. Almeria Labertha McLaughlin Tomlinson, 1882-1974, was a highly respected midwife on Cayman Brac. Miss Almeria delivered hundreds of babies from Spot Bay to West End and also in Little Cayman, to which she travelled by catboat, sometimes in rough seas. Her stamp is the 20 cent denomination, with the book of six for $1.20. 

Major Joseph Rodriguez (Roddy) Watler, 1890-1965, served the Islands in the police force for more than 30 years, principally as Inspector of Police, but also as warehouse keeper, lighthouse keeper, bailiff, customs officer and aide-de-camp to the Commissioner of the Cayman Islands and visiting governors. Major Rodriguez was also honoured with a medal of bravery for actions during the 1932 hurricane, when he and another person travelled in a canoe from South Sound through Prospect and Red Bay, rescuing people who had been swept from their homes. He was given the title “Major” during World War II as head of the Home Guard. His stamp is the $1.50, with the book of six for $9. 

Miss Irksie Leila Yates, 1899-1996, hailed from Grand Cayman and was drawn to nursing from childhood. After leaving school, she worked with Dr. Overton, the Island’s only doctor, receiving valuable training in handling both deliveries and infectious diseases. By 1919, she was known as Nurse Leila. She delivered her first baby in 1923. In 1952, she began delivering babies at the Cayman Hospital. Her stamp is the 75 cent denomination, with the book of six for $4.50. 

The families of the four pioneers celebrated the launch at the Governor’s House earlier this month along with Governor Duncan Taylor, Mrs. Marie-Beatrice Taylor, Deputy Premier and Minister of Administration, Works, Land and Agriculture Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, Speaker of the House Mary Lawrence and Chief Officer Kearney Gomez. 

Ms O’Connor-Connolly congratulated the Postmaster General and the Stamp Advisory Committee for the issue, as well as the public for its input.  

“Every developed nation has stamps that celebrate the contributions of its citizens and ‘Pioneers of Our History’ does just that,” she said. “As a nation, we are proud to honour the men and women who gave their all to assist with the development of these Islands.”
The Deputy Premier concluded, “We hope this stamp issue will be a lasting tribute to them and a testimony to the spirit and resolve of our country.”  

Ms Glasgow thanked all those who helped to make the stamp issue a success, including Stamp Advisory Committee members, the National Archives and the families of the pioneers. 

The Pioneers of Our History issue is the final stamp release of the year for the Cayman Islands Postal Service. It is currently on sale at all post offices.  


More information may be obtained from the Philatelic Bureau on 946-4757. 

Stamps celebrate Cayman pioneers 

Cayman Pioneers stamp mockup

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