Cayman Islands Governor Duncan Taylor on Monday named six Caymanians for New Year’s honours, receiving the Cayman Islands Certificate and Badge of Honour.
Owen Murphy Farrington and Harold Burnell Banks have been named for services to seamanship in the Cayman Islands. Mr. Farrington has also been recognised for services to the poor and underprivileged.
Frances Zelmalee Ebanks was named for services to education and culinary culture, while Claira Juanita Range has been honoured for services to Her Majesty’s Prison Service and rehabilitation.
Finally, Cora Grant-James was named for services to the community, and John Cameron Jackson Doak has been recognised for services to the protection of architectural history.
Reached at home on Monday, Mr. Farrington said he was “honoured” to receive the recognition, but, more importantly, “it was a privilege to help these people, and now to look back and see that they have done well”.
After his July 2001 election as president of the Seafarer’s Association, he said, a number of widows of former seamen had asked for help. One, in particular, he recalled, had sought medical records from a local hospital, but learned they could not be located.
“So I went to the association and said the widows should be able to join the association as members in their own right. They played a very important role, running the households, caring for the children in the community while their husbands were away at sea,” he said.
While he was unable to recall precise numbers, Mr. Farrington said “a good proportion” of the existing 600 association members were widows, qualifying for the same rights and privileges as their male counterparts.
His service to the “poor and underprivileged”, he said, stemmed from efforts to rescue stranded seamen and to care for local children from difficult backgrounds.
“I took on some youngsters from broken homes, and it seemed to be a good idea,” Mr. Farrington said. “They grew up to be good men.
“I also rescued 12 men off the northern coast of Nicaragua who had run out of drinking water. I got a call and had to get out there.”
While not all the Badge and Certificate recipients could be reached, North Side’s Mrs. Ebanks also said she was honoured by the award, saying that she was “not a front-line person”, but had been an elementary school teacher for 34 years.
Starting her career in Cayman Brac’s Spotts Bay, she later moved to North Side Primary School in Grand Cayman and finished at East End Primary School, where she ultimately retired as principal in 1998 after 16 years.
“I taught all grades,” the 66-year-old said, going on to describe her “services to culinary culture”, as also named by the governor.
“My husband and I have a 50-acre farm in North Side,” she said. “And I started using produce from the farm, using excess fruits and eggs to make cookies, tarts, juices, all sorts of things. We try to stick to traditional dishes and now I am thinking of writing a cook book.”
Mr. Doak, a well-known figure in the community for 33 years, said he too was ”honoured”, adding, “and, to say the least, surprised”. The proprietor of his own “John Doak, Architect and Imagineer”, he has long been an aficionado of traditional building styles, materials and design.
Local architecture and its preservation, he said, had largely been a labour of love, while a long-promised – and publicly awaited – book on the subject “is still in the works”, he said.
A series of local newspaper articles in the 1980s formed the basis of the book, “and it became an exercise of love to pursue education and preservation of architecture.”
He said Hurricane Ivan had damaged a lot of historic buildings, while, at the same time, clearing out some of the flimsier and more regrettable efforts.
“We are ever under threat, though, from new problems, things like population growth,” he said. “I hope, however, to continue to educate to make more impact on the preservation of things Caymanian.”
He said Monday’s award may provide the impetus, at last, to publish that book on local architectural history.