It was an emotional day for Customs and Border Control Director Charles Clifford and Pastor Randy Von Kanel as they were both honoured at the annual Queen’s Birthday celebrations on Monday.
The Cayman Compass caught up with the men following the receipt of their honours, which were presented before hundreds attending the parade held on West Bay Road in front of Government House for the first time.
Von Kanel, who was awarded Member of the Order of the Cayman Islands – the revamped national award – for his community service, said being honoured at such a high level was a humbling experience.
“I’m still very emotional about it because I’m deeply honoured, humbled that I would be nominated much less selected. So I guess I was just overwhelmed by it all and I mean that sincerely,” Von Kanel said.
Von Kanel is a senior pastor of the Cayman Islands Baptist Church in Grand Cayman and a former chairman of the board of directors of the YMCA of the Cayman Islands.
He is among the first residents to be awarded a Member of the Order of the Cayman Islands; the national awards were revamped under the previous administration earlier this year. Suzy Soto, Reba Dilbert and Dr. Delroy Jefferson received the same honours at the celebrations on National Heroes Day in January.
Clifford was appointed a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the New Year’s Honours List and he received the award at Monday’s celebrations.
The accolade celebrates Clifford’s contributions to customs and border control in the Cayman Islands, including the creation of the new CBC entity following the merger of the former immigration department and customs.
Clifford welcomed his honour, but said it was not a singular effort on his part that deserved the recognition.
“I’ve had a very long and diverse public service career and I owe a lot to the Cayman Islands government for the opportunities that they’ve given to me. When this medal was awarded to me in 2020, I made a statement that while it was primarily related to the merger, the merger didn’t just happen through my efforts. It was a collective effort with all the men and women in the Customs and Border Control service. And so when I accepted the honour, I accepted it on their behalf as well,” he told the Compass.
Clifford thanked his CBC team for their contribution and all the others in government with whom he has worked over the last 35 years.
“I thank them, too, for all the various ways that they’ve helped me. It’s always been a collaborative effort. That’s how we make things happen and I look forward to continuing to serve the country perhaps in other roles in the future, we will see,” Clifford added.
A third award was announced at Monday’s celebrations, in which Truman Bodden Law School Director Mitchell Davies was recognised with a British Empire Medal as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honours.