Gala raises funds for veterans

Veterans Association Vice President Andrew McLaughlin, center, and Cayman Cadets perform 10 push-ups as guests, including Governor Helen Kilpatrick in background, applaud and cheer them on at Saturday night's Veterans Gala. - Photo: Jewel Levy

More than 150 veterans and guests celebrated the Cayman Islands fifth annual Veterans Gala/Dinner Dance at the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort Saturday night.

The black tie gala raises funds to help support the many older veterans who need assistance in Cayman.

The evening began with attendees mingling over cocktails in the lobby of the hotel’s ballroom where guests were pinned with poppies. The remembrance poppy has been used since 1921 to honor and remember those who have fallen in war.

Vice president of the Cayman Islands Veterans Association Andrew McLaughlin sounded the call for the formal seating of guests in the “mess.” At the head table were Governor Helen Kilpatrick, police Inspector Ian Yearwood, Deputy Commissioner Kurt Walton and wife Meredith, Captain Dale Banks and wife Beverly, Shadden McLaughlin, Derek Haines, who was serving as guest president for the night, and his wife Helen, and Samuel Rose and wife Elkie.

Andrew McLaughlin, Veterans Association vice president, escorts Edith, wife of the late Capt. Ewart Ebanks to her seat. – Photo: Jewel Levy
Andrew McLaughlin, Veterans Association vice president, escorts Edith, wife of the late Capt. Ewart Ebanks to her seat. – Photo: Jewel Levy

Mr. McLaughlin called for a moment of silence in remembrance of fallen comrades as his wife Shadden, also a veteran, lit a ceremonial candle to honor fallen comrades.

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A video, titled “A Salute to the Cayman Islands Veterans – Know your Veterans” gave attendees the opportunity to hear veterans share their testimonies and experiences.

A special recognition was also given to the family of the late Captain Thomas Ewart Ebanks, who passed away on Sept. 14. When World War II began, young Mr. Ewart signed up as a member of the Cayman contingent and joined the Trinidad Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.

The night continued in good spirit with Mr. McLaughlin “fining” guests who “violated the integrity” of the mess, to support veterans coffers. Guests were asked to pay fines for leaving the room to smoke, use the bathroom, not wearing a poppy and veterans for not wearing their dog tags. One Scottish attendee who was wearing a kilt was given the option of paying a fine or performing a jig. He quickly paid up.

Young cadets serving as valets were also called into action and performed 10 push-ups with Mr. McLaughlin.

Thanking guests for attending, Mr. McLaughlin said they could not do it without the community’s help. “We do not receive a stipend from the government, but from fundraisers such as this one. Your support is very important,” he said.

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