Read by Bryan Bothwell
On 19 March, 1948, Allenby and Doris Yates were blessed with a beautiful baby girl they named Anna Consuelo. Consuelo grew up and thrived in South Sound, and though she ended up living in other parts of Grand Cayman, she was always a South Sounder.
Consuelo attended the Cayman Prep and Cayman High Schools, run by the Presbyterian Church, graduating in 1965. There she made many friends with whom she stayed close until the end.
In a class that had its full share of what Headmaster Mr. Gray termed “clowns”, Consuelo’s sharp and imaginative wit remains legendary. There were few, if any, subjects that were off-bounds in this regards.
Certainly not her imminent GCE Spanish Orals, which seemed to provide fodder for a weeks’ worth of jokes to calm those classmates, who were not so relaxed in their anticipation of this exam. Shakespeare and other literature also provided a steady source for her to twist into more interesting one-liners.
And she could run monologues of prolonged “conversations” among any variety of teachers, South Sound’s finest, or any of the other characters of that day, exaggeratingly imitating each voice and mannerism – and leaving the class in stitches. But her legendary wit was matched by an equally sharp mind that kept her in the top section of her class, year after year. This combination probably ambushed quite a few unsuspecting strangers later in her life.
Unfortunately, she lost her two best childhood friends, Mary Lee Hurlston Lungu and Barbara Bush Penhale to illness. Each year at the 49ers alumnae gatherings, Consuelo was there.
Then she attended the Sylvia Gill Secretarial School, equipping herself for the world of work. Her first job was at Capital Traders, followed by several years at MRCU working with Dr. Marco Gigioli.
Consuelo managed the Cinema (on West Bay Road) for eight years; then she went into business for herself, with a shop called Jasons Boutique. When she closed the shop she became her husband James’ right hand in his construction company, Jasons Construction. In the late 1980s, she worked for Mr. Ernest Foster at the Money Exchange.
Subsequently, she was employed by Mike Bell in Bell Construction, the developer of Grand Harbour, for about five years, until 2000. Following Hurricane Ivan blowing through in 2004, she went to work at the National Recovery Fund for two years. After a lull, she worked at the Seafarers Association’s office from 2008 to 2009.
In 1967, Consuelo married James Ebanks and to this union were born two sons, Don and Rodney.
Although South Sound was first in her heart, Consuelo loved the whole Cayman Islands and her Caymanian people. She appreciated this little piece of turf and she was proud of her roots and heritage.
She enjoyed her youth exploring the seaside, swimming out to ‘the key’ and the wreck of the Pallas. She regaled her school friends with tales of her exploits and that of her neighbours.
From her love of Cayman, naturally sprung her passion for its preservation. Not only was she vocal with her ideas and defence of Cayman, she followed up with actions.
She was a founding member of the Orchid Society and she along with her mother and Mrs. Joyce Hylton would tramp into the bush to get samples or save specimens from the bulldozer. She was a member of the original committee that conceived what the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park should be and planned its layout. Then she also joined to physically chop and clear the Nature Trail at the Park.
In 1988, when plans for dredging the North Sound to deepen it were floated, Consuelo launched a petition in protest in March. By May of the same year, the petition was presented to the governor with 1,236 signatures. She lent her voice to the protests against dredging in South Sound and the harbour in East End.
Consuelo’s dedication to Cayman was not limited to its natural attributes; she also had strong views about things political.
In June 1990, she raised the first banner to protest Government Motion 3/90, which was to add official members of Executive Council to Finance Committee. Within six weeks, a citizens group she was a part of gathered 2,709 signatures.
Her latest civic involvement was in the drive for “one man, one vote”, when she worked tirelessly to get the required number of signatories.
Consuelo was a member of the National Cultural Foundation. Her flair for the dramatic came to the fore when, in February 1992, she took part in the first “Rundown”, which has become a much anticipated annual comedic look at life in Cayman.
With her exaggerated drawl she cemented her comical side. Also in the 1990s, she starred with Penny Phillips in “Fallen Angels”, a play presented at both Cayman’s playhouses, and in England, with great success. Consuelo was also one of the first members of the Batabano parade.
Another facet of Consuelo was evidenced when in 2003 she compiled, wrote for, had published and distributed “The Southwell Years”. This is an historic compilation of information about the years when Caymanian seamen were employed with National Bulk Carriers, a time that had great influence on our society. Its popularity prompted a recent reprint.
Anna Consuelo Ebanks nee Yates was a force to be reckoned with. As Mr. Dave Martins’ letter to the Compass, published on her passing, said, “Consuelo would often deliver hard truths, whether to English governor or Jamaican gardener, and she would do it at full volume, regardless of the surroundings.”
And as Mr. Billy Adam’s piece, also in the Compass said, “Most of the beneficiaries of the work she did to preserve things Caymanian will not even know she was the person who sparked the consciousness of the need to fight to protect. In her humble, unassuming way that is how she would have it be. It was not about her. It was always about what was best for the future of the Cayman Islands.”
Consuelo was intelligent, loyal, serious, funny and forthright. She was not afraid of speaking her mind and many will miss her calls to the radio to give her take on a subject.
Consuelo passed away after a short, sudden illness on Tuesday, 7 May, 2013.
Left to mourn her passing are her two sons, Don and Rodney; her beloved mother Doris Yates, sisters Alice Hovland and Edith Veleris, brothers Andrew MacGregor Yates and Peter Jeremy Yates, sisters-in-law, four nieces and one nephew, other family members and a host of friends and acquaintances.