Government took steps to cement the environmental legacy of Anna Consuelo Ebanks, nee Yates, last week.
A sign and memorial plaque were unveiled, renaming South Sound Community Beach as Consuelo’s Beach in memory of the Cayman icon.
Consuelo, a South Sound community activist, author, environmentalist, actress, businesswoman and mother, spent her too-short life enhancing, protecting and conserving all things Caymanian.
Her final project was leading the development of the South Sound public beach facility, which embodied all aspects dear to her, and on which government chose to honour her on Thursday.
After the demolition of a home on the site once occupied by Dr. Marco Giglioli, Cayman’s first director of the Mosquito Research Control Unit, she spearheaded a movement to convert the overgrown plot into a beautiful beach site that would benefit the South Sound community, residents and visitors alike.
With this objective in mind, Consuelo, as she was commonly known, enlisted others to help clear the site, pave the parking area and undertake landscaping works.
“She was Caymanian to the bone,” said Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly as she paid tribute to Consuelo in front of a packed gathering of people attending the renaming ceremony at South Sound Community Centre.
“The things that mattered most to her were the things that people did not take the time to see. She made it her business to look out for those plants, those animals and those things Caymanian,” O’Connor-Connolly said.
In 2003, Consuelo compiled, wrote for, had published and distributed ‘The Southwell Years’. This book is a historic compilation of information about the years when Caymanian seamen were employed with National Bulk Carriers, a time that had great influence on Cayman’s society. Its popularity prompted a reprint.
“She didn’t go to sea, but she knew more about seafaring men than most Caymanian women did,” said Captain Paul Hurlston. “She was fearless, smart as a cricket, bold as a lion and a very knowledgeable woman who had an answer for everyone.”
Many tributes were paid to Consuelo, recognised as a person who liked her beer, and a colourful, unique character who loved the Cayman Islands. But her son Don Wayne Ebanks said he wanted her remembered as a person, not a symbol of these islands.
In an article in the Caymanian Compass, Dave Martin, a member of the Cayman National Cultural Foundation and cast member of the play ‘Rundown’, in which Consuelo was a key player, once said Consuelo was a force to be reckoned with.
Overcome with emotion, fellow actress Rita Estevanovitch said Consuelo was one of Cayman’s most talented thespians and would be greatly missed. She had the crowd chuckling when she paid tribute to Consuelo with a rendition of the poem ‘Government Bull’.
She was adept at playing comedic as well as tragic roles. Committed to protecting and stimulating Cayman’s heritage, arts and culture, Consuelo passionately served as a board member of the Cayman National Cultural Foundation for more than 20 years.
She also advocated for ‘one man, one vote’ and was a founding member of the Orchid Society and the Botanic Park.
Premier Alden McLaughlin said her concerns were always about the environment.
“She supported issues she stood for or stood against. That was the way she was,” he said.
McLaughlin said he wanted to memorialise her contributions.
“She was an incredible human being who did more for the environment outside of government, and outside various societies than most of us collectively do who hold powerful positions,” McLaughlin said. “It speaks volumes about the character and strength of this Caymanian woman, long may her memory last, and may we never forget her incredible contributions.”
Kurt Tibbetts, a former leader of government business, sang ‘My Way’ by Frank Sinatra in her honour.