For someone so young, he evidently made an impression on many as Bodden Town residents and the Cayman Islands football community flocked to give Gerome Lloyd Graham a memorable funeral on Saturday.
It was at the Cayman Islands Baptist Church beside Pedro Castle and hundreds turned out to pay their respects to the 20-year-old Bodden Town youngster fondly known as ‘Bird’ who died suddenly, apparently of an undetected heart problem at football practice at the Haig field in Bodden Town on 12 June.
The service was more a celebration of Graham’s short life than lament of his demise with many giving heart-warming tributes and anecdotes. There were singers, prayers, hymns, sermons and a slide show featuring Gerome.
Mark Scotland, minister of Sports and Health who is also president of Bodden Town Football Club, gave a tribute and to mass applause announced that in Graham’s memory the government would be introducing a more thorough testing medical programme on athletes, starting with footballers.
Those who gave tributes included Mary Lawrence, Maude Ramoutar, Osbourne Bodden, Jaedyn Hanna, Juliette Gooding, Dwayne Seymour and Bruce Blake. Some of Graham’s family from Jamaica and the United States attended, including his uncle bishop Lloyd Walker.
Bodden Town footballers turned up in the club’s purple uniforms and Graham was buried with his team jersey No. 15. His club coach, Elbert McLean, has retired the No. 15 in honour of the former Cayman national midfielder. The best turn out by other football teams was by George Town, which sent its entire squad down in club red jerseys. Elite Sporting Club, led by coach Greg Ebanks, also turned up in club colours.
Gerome’s auntie Dean Nelson said: “It was a wonderful funeral with so many tributes. Everything flowed nicely. The preacher, Brother Glarman ‘Bobo’ Grant, lightened the mood with his sermon, which was nice.
“The family really appreciates everything coach Elbert and his wife Laurel did for Bird. They were like second parents and may God grant them a favour if ever they need one.”
Coach Elbert said: “The funeral was magnificent. They buried Bird like a king. He has now gone to the heavenly father. He was a very lovely young man and I loved him like my own son.”