Fundraising has begun in earnest for restoration of a West Bay home with an unassuming exterior which belies its historic significance to nursing in the Cayman Islands.

“We are working closely with the West Bay District Committee to raise funds for the complete restoration of Nurse Leila’s House,” said the National Trust’s Historic Programmes Manager Richard Mileham.

“There are a couple of phases for this, from initial repairs to full restoration, but our intention was to make this a major project in 2018.”

As the Cayman Compass has reported, the home’s former occupant, Nurse Leila Yates, is known for her many accomplishments in the field of nursing.

Erksie Leila Yates was born in West Bay on Aug. 19, 1899 to Caymanian parents, the youngest of six children. She grew up playing on the beach on moonlit nights and dancing to the improvised music of pans and graters. She remembers Halley’s Comet lighting up the skies over the Cayman Islands in 1910 and beachcombing to collect sea fans for use as kitchen sieves.

While her mother initially resisted her asthmatic child’s wish to become a nurse, Ms. Yates prevailed in her determination to pursue her chosen career, with support from her sister. She began her medical training under the supervision of Dr. Overton in 1917, walking from West Bay to George Town to attend her nursing lectures.

She began her nursing career in 1919, caring for patients in their homes, and in 1921 branched out into midwifery. The Trust’s biography notes she delivered more than 1,000 babies in the Cayman Islands, without a loss. Traveling on foot, boat, horseback and car to reach her patients, on one occasion she spent several days in East End waiting until the baby was ready to be delivered.

Ms. Yates passed away on Aug. 19, 1996.

For information on supporting the restoration efforts, contact the Trust at 749-1121 or email [email protected]

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