The West Bay heritage committee is turning a historic home into an arts and crafts building to help preserve cultural traditions and to recognize the life and accomplishments of the late Irksie Leila Yates, known as Nurse Leila.
The simple wattle and daub building, resting on posts made from the endemic ironwood tree, is on West Church Street just off the four-way junction in West Bay.
The house, which is more than 100 year old, was purchased by the National Trust in 2006 through a donation from Maples Finance Ltd., in an effort to preserve Cayman’s wattle and daub buildings and to honor Nurse Leila’s contributions.
“The history is there,” Alice Mae Coe, chairman of the National Trust West Bay Committee, which aims to start using the house as “a place were local arts and crafts can be taught to the younger and older generations.”
To get the project up and running, the committee is hosting a fundraiser at Pappagallo Restaurant on Jan. 24. One-of-a-kind artworks made from local materials and created by West Bay artisans will be auctioned at the event.
“This year’s Heroes Day celebrations will highlight heroes in the medical profession, and …it is only fitting for us to recognize [Nurse Leila’s] works in this way,” said Ms. Coe.
Ms. Yates, born in 1899, was the youngest of six children of Arthur and Jacintha Yates. She started her nursing career in 1918. During her time as a midwife, she delivered more than 1,000 babies.
Nurse Leila’s midwifery career spanned some 50 years: The first case she handled by herself was in 1921, and she retired in 1971. Before 1952, when the government hospital opened, most of her work was done in the homes of her patients.
Tickets for the fundraiser on Jan. 24 are $75. They are on sale at the National Trust’s main office on Church Street.