Governor brings his steel pan talents to Sunrise Centre

Governor Martyn Roper continued his steel pan tour of the island on Wednesday.

The governor’s Caribbean stylings have been in high demand since he premiered his secret musical talents for the Queen’s Birthday in June.

On Thursday, Roper appeared with his teacher Earl La Pierre and pianist Glen Inanga at Sunrise Adult Training Centre in West Bay, to share two more songs.

The performance served as more than entertainment for the clients and staff. It also represented a budding relationship between Government House and the special needs facility.

The trip to the centre was the first by a sitting Cayman Islands governor since director Kimberly Voaden began working at the facility in 2013.

“It’s always a pleasure to have special guests visit us because it’s so important for our clients to get to share their talents and their time and for people in the regular community to get to see the good work that is happening here at the Sunrise Adult Training Centre,” Voaden said.

The visit provided an opportunity to highlight the needs of the centre, located in a retrofitted duplex, and to showcase the barriers that clients and staff alike have overcome together.

Earl La Pierre, left, Governor Martyn Roper and Glen Inanga perform for the Sunrise Centre.

“I hope that he has learned and appreciated the wide variety of good work that is done at the Sunrise Adult Training Centre, the training opportunities that we strive to offer, as well as opportunities that government has, and our wider community has to increase inclusion of our clients with special needs,” Voaden said, adding that the relationship with Government House appears to be moving in the right direction.

One Sunrise client, for example, is beginning an internship with the Government House catering team.

Governor Roper was provided a full tour of the facility, where he saw the centre’s gardening, arts and music programmes in action.

He also witnessed the difficulties clients and staff face navigating the facility, which was not designed as a school or day facility. Tasks such as moving wheelchair-bound clients, for example, prove difficult inside of the duplex.

Roper said plans for a bigger facility are in the works and that an upgrade was clearly needed. Despite the challenges, he said the staff was doing a fantastic job.

“I wanted to come to say thank you to the staff for the wonderful job that they do, because this is difficult and we all recognise that it is difficult and challenging, Roper said.

“What I saw today were incredibly dedicated people who are really doing their best for our adults,” he added.

Governor Martyn Roper prepares to record steel pan music alongside teacher Earl La Pierre in the Sunrise Centre studio. – Photos: Kayla Young

Steel pan performance

Roper closed his visit by recording two songs on steel pan, alongside La Pierre and Inanga, in the Sunrise Centre’s music studio. He officially inaugurated the space, which will serve as a creative and therapeutic outlet for clients.

The musical trio then performed two songs for the centre, resulting in a standing ovation by clients and staff.

Roper has been studying steel pan with La Pierre since April with weekly lessons at Government House.

“The governor just wants to be part of the culture in this kind of Caribbean atmosphere and he has done a wonderful job. He’s one of my best students,” La Pierre said.

Given the public reception, it looks like Roper will not be abandoning steel pan anytime soon.

“We have been getting calls left, right and centre for this sort of thing,” La Pierre said, adding that he has received questions about the governor’s performances from as far away as Toronto, Canada and Trinidad.