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Ms Joyce Hylton Passes

Government officials, representatives of voluntary organisations, relatives, friends and a host of persons from all walks of life gathered today (Sunday, 8 October) to pay final respects to Sybil Joyce Hylton, MBE, Cert Hon, celebrating a life of service in the field of social welfare in the Cayman Islands.

Paying tribute on behalf of the Government and the people of the Cayman Islands to the life and work of the 93-year-old former public servant and life-time community volunteer, the Hon Kurt Tibbetts, Leader of Government Business, classed Miss Joyce as among the "most outstanding examples of positive and involved citizenry."

Saying that her "remarkable life had a large and lasting impact on the young people of these Islands," Minister Tibbetts said that Miss Joyce had "made a difference in this country not only through her devotion as a probation and welfare officer, but also as an unparalleled and untiring volunteer. Indeed, her work day - if one could call it that - was never finished."

Appealing to those attending to emulate her efforts, Minister Tibbetts said: "I represent a grateful nation today as I say, 'Thank you, Miss Joyce. Thank you for everything you did.'"

Others paying tribute included the Hon. McKeeva Bush, Leader of the Opposition, along with representatives of a number of voluntary organisations, led by the Lions Club of Grand Cayman and of Tropical Gardens, the Scouts, the Young Parents Programme. Mrs. Angela Martins, a cousin of Miss Joyce, read a tribute on behalf of adopted son Mike Simmons as well as paying her own homage to a mentor and role model.

Officiating ministers included Pastor John Macmillan; Pastor James Arch, and Pastor Al Ebanks.

Miss Joyce was born on 25 August 1913 and passed away peacefully on 1 October 2006. Internment was at the Dixie Cemetery.

TRIBUTE TO MRS. JOYCE HYLTON

ON BEHALF OF THE CAYMAN ISLANDS GOVERNMENT

By The Hon. Kurt Tibbetts

Leader of Government Business

On behalf of the Government and the people of the Cayman Islands, it is my honour to pay final respects to one of our most outstanding examples of positive and involved citizenry - the lady we call "Miss Joyce". Today, we celebrate a noble and well-lived life.

Everyone who knew Miss Joyce must feel her loss today, both personally and in terms of the role she played at the national level. I speak for the entire country when I express deepest condolences to her relatives and her large extended "family" across the Cayman Islands.

Miss Joyce's passing marks the end of an era, and that brings great sadness. But it also is a time of hope for us, as we are reminded today of how much she achieved in her life and the strength of our heritage from her work and life.

That endowment to us derives from her work in one of the most challenging spheres for most governments -- the complex and critical sector of social development.

It is a legacy rooted in Miss Joyce's grounding as a daughter of the soil. As the child of a seaman, she was steeped in the culture of the day. Immersed in the legendary ambition of our seafaring traditions, Miss Joyce remained true to that heritage, displaying an ambition and thirst for knowledge that prepared her for a life of service.

And that remarkable life had a large and lasting impact on the young people of these islands.

Right from the start of her career in Cayman, she championed the cause of youth, convincing government and community leaders that juveniles in the justice system needed protection, not condemnation; hope, not despair.

She knew what she was talking about, having learned the theory in her studies, but also having observed the practice of social services in Jamaica.

She firmly believed that troubled youth and pregnant teenagers should continue to benefit from education and training, put their troubles behind them, and lead productive lives. Criminals and inmates, in Miss Joyce's view, were people who deserved more than one chance to become valued contributors to Cayman's growth and prosperity.

The Cayman community embraced this small but bold woman, ahead of her time in vision, on a mission driven by concern and conviction. They sensed that she was offering solutions, not criticism, and that her motivation sprang from a heart yearning to make a positive impact on lives.

And so began government's Welfare and Probation Service, from which has evolved today's Department of Children and Family Services.

As if this were not enough, Miss Joyce's devotion knew no bounds; her private life coalesced with her passion of salvaging lives and bringing hope wherever and whenever she could. She made a difference in this country not only through her devotion as a probation and welfare officer, but also as an unparalleled and untiring volunteer. Indeed, her work day - if one could ever call it that - was never finished.

As President George H W Bush said, "Volunteers can see what others cannot see, feel what others cannot feel." Miss Joyce volunteered with the Scouts for years; she distributed reading materials in the districts; she directed the development of many education and welfare agencies, and she was ever ready to open her door, at any hour, to lend a listening ear and to give some homegrown, commonsense advice.

We may never be able to match Miss Joyce's goodness and devotion, but I hope that we will draw inspiration from her life to put God first, others a close second, and ourselves a distant third.

Underlying all of her efforts was a firm belief in people's ability to turn their lives around and an abiding faith in God. Miss Joyce knew the benefits of attending church and belonging to a Christian community. From this spiritual richness she found a foundation for her beliefs, renewal for her spirit, a refuge from worries, and answers to prayers.

Hers is truly a life to celebrate, and to emulate. I represent a grateful nation today as I say, "Thank you, Miss Joyce. Thank you for everything you did."

For further information contact: Pat Ebanks