Christmas is a special time to enjoy with our families and friends, but it is also a time for all of us to reflect on the events of the last year and to count our blessings.
This year, the devastating hurricanes Irma and Maria struck the Caribbean. Once again, the Cayman Islands were spared but our fellow Overseas Territories of the British Virgin Islands, the Turks and Caicos Islands and Anguilla were hit with the full force of these terrifying storms.
These territories now face years of reconstruction and hardships for their people.
In these terrible circumstances, the generosity and compassion of Cayman Islanders once more came to the fore and the community rallied around to help.
I was particularly proud that the Cayman Islands very quickly sent practical assistance to our fellow islands in desperate need. Sixteen police officers were deployed to BVI, the police helicopter and its crew to Turks and Caicos and medical staff, equipment and supplies to Anguilla.
My thanks go to all those people from the Cayman Islands who made personal sacrifices in these very difficult circumstances.
Christmas is a time for us to look after our own community. There are always those less fortunate than ourselves and this is an opportunity to reach out to them.
Christmas can also be a lonely time of year for some. We can all visit a neighbor or call a friend or family member who might be alone during the holidays.
Spare a thought too, for those in the emergency and caring professions who may be working long and unsocial hours during the holidays. These are often our community’s unsung heroes, who quietly go about their business of keeping us safe and secure.
I am always impressed by the generosity of the Cayman Islands people toward others, and this year has once again been no exception. The scale and variety of the charitable and voluntary work in the Cayman Islands is truly amazing, and demonstrates the very special character of the people of these Islands.
A highlight for me this year was the much anticipated groundbreaking ceremony in June for the new hospice building, the first dedicated home for end of life care in the Cayman Islands. Many generous donations to Cayman HospiceCare will enable this wonderful facility to be offered free of charge.
I am deeply grateful to all the charities and associations [that] have given me the privilege of being their patron. Too many to name here, they play a vital role in strengthening our society and making the Cayman Islands a much better place to live.
Lastly, and on a personal note, this year’s Christmas will be my last in the Cayman Islands. I step down as Governor at the beginning of March. I am honored to have served my country and the Cayman Islands in this capacity.
I would like to thank all the people of the Cayman Islands for making me so welcome when I arrived and for making my time here truly such a pleasure. It has been a privilege to experience the culture and tremendous sense of community that you all share.
Thank you. Happy Christmas to everyone and very best wishes for a safe and healthy new year.
Mrs. Helen Kilpatrick, CB, is Governor of the Cayman Islands