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Certificate and Badge Winners

Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Blake

In addition to the two new Caymanians made Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), local New Year's Honours for 2011 also went to eight Cayman Islands residents.

Governor, His Excellency Mr. Duncan Taylor, CBE named Ms. Mary Elizabeth Blake, Mr. Hartmann Morgan DaCosta, JP, Ms. Reba Dilbert, Ms. Audrey Ebanks, Mr. Rodney Alan Hansen, Ms. Ellen Rose Sherman, Lt. (sg) Dave C Thompson and Ms. Zemrie Estella Thompson to receive the Cayman Islands Certificate and Badge of Honour (Cert. Hon).

The MBE recipients were current Legislative Assembly Speaker Mrs. Mary Jannet Lawrence, JP and cat boat expert, Mr. William Kemuel Jackson.

Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Blake

"I was born to be a nurse!" says Mary Elizabeth Blake, describing her dedication to nursing over the past 37 years.

Born in George Town to Martin and Madre-Mae Bodden, she is the oldest of seven children and aspired to be a nurse since she was just three years old. Having mapped out her future, she often practised on her siblings, ensuring their return to health after falls and injuries.

In an era when the Islands lacked medical facilities, homeopathic remedies were routinely used to treat ailments. Most people self-treated symptoms, ensuring that key herbs grew in their yards or were otherwise easily accessible.

But despite the need for trained healthcare professionals, Mrs. Blake notes that nursing "was not the attractive thing to do." At the time, banking and tourism were the popular career choices, but she never faltered and comments now, "You didn't enter nursing for the money."

Since then she's witnessed three renovations to the George Town Hospital and has worked in every section and department. She is currently the Sterile Processing Department Supervisor.

"I love, love, love what I do, and every day brings a new challenge," she says. "If I had to do it all again I'd still be a nurse. I always remember that what I do is part of what our Lord Jesus Christ did while he was with us on earth." And her affinity for caring and nurturing extends beyond the hospital, as many from her church and eastern district communities can attest.

Believing that her blessings are gifts to use to help others, she has assisted many needy, abused and discouraged individuals. Past roles as vacation bible school and Sabbath school teacher, and more recently as women's ministry leader, have enabled her to spearhead initiatives that provided families with a source of comfort and hope during times of loss.

Initially surprised by her Certificate and Badge of Honour nomination for services to the civil service, church and community, she now reflects: "I never did any of this for recognition or reward, but my mother always said that we are being watched and that we should do everything to the glory and honour of God."

Elated and humbled, she makes special mention of Mrs. Hyacinth Rose who trained her in her early career years and Ms. Bridgette Glasgow-Scott, a more recent source of inspiration. She also thanks her relatives, church family and the person or persons who nominated her.

Mr. Hartmann Morgan DaCosta

Mr. Hartmann Morgan DaCosta

For more than 50 years, exemplary seaman, successful businessman and devoted family man Hartmann Morgan DaCosta has solidly promoted the welfare of the Cayman Islands, notably its children and his home community of Savannah.

Starting his working life as a 17-year-old seaman, Mr. DaCosta, now 74, rapidly grasped the value of honest labour and the hard-earned dollar. He rose to third engineer by dint of study and diligent effort.

Returning home, he translated his experience into a thriving business career, working first with his brothers to operate Puritan Cleaners and then launching his own Meadac Supply Co. Ltd. The company now employs 40 persons, including several family members.

An active social conscience motivated Mr. DaCosta to become a Rotarian: For 16 years he posted a perfect attendance record, earning that club's highest award for service above self during the process.

With a fellow Rotarian, he established Junior Achievement in the Cayman Islands, a programme that has empowered numerous teens, instilling in them business acumen, ethics and experience. "Honesty is always the best policy," he reiterates.

Other significant Rotary-linked achievements include his fund-raising for international and local community projects, especially bus shelters, wheelchair-accessible ramps and the T.E. McField building, used for after-school programmes.

A Justice of the Peace since 1994, Mr. DaCosta has also positively influenced local children's lives as a sitting lay-Magistrate in Juvenile Court. And as one of the first recruits in Cayman's Special Constabulary Force, he provided countless hours of community service for which he was awarded a long-service medal.

And as a council member and currently Seafarers Association President, Mr. DaCosta also aims to establish a museum and a memorial wall inside Seafarers Hall to further cement the Islands' sea-going heritage. Additional goals are to re-establish Cayman as a boat-building centre and to revitalise its maritime reputation.

His advice for young people? "Respect your family and elders. In turn, you respect yourself. And give your best in whatever job you do," he says.

Ms. Reba Dilbert

Ms. Reba Dilbert

Hear Reba Dilbert's name and dazzling creations that have graced local and international pageant and competition runways or adorned revellers during some 20 Batabano and Pirates Week celebrations readily come to mind.

In her hands, fabric, feathers, wire, shells, glue and glitter are all artfully transformed into colourful, unforgettable and award-winning costumes. And as Cayman's only costume designer, she is revered for her creative talent.

Ms. Dilbert's love affair with design began as a toddler in West Bay. She was frequently punished for running scissors through curtains, tablecloths and her parent's clothing - all to adorn her dolls! But, intent on emulating her seamstress grandmother the late Maggie Hydes, she followed her passion, even experimenting with her six siblings' - and her own - hair.

That stubborn determination remained and has won her both local and global accolades. Chief amongst them was her 2009 nomination for an International Design Awards (IDA) at the Platinum level, selected from a field of nine. Before that she was awarded first place in the 2008 IDA Professional-Avant Garde Women's category.

However, recognition of her talents began long before 2009. In 1998, the Cayman National Cultural Foundation nominated her for outstanding work in costume design. Then, after establishing a non-profit organisation for designing pageant-wear and offering modelling and etiquette training to young ladies, her costumes captured the attention of international judges.

The first international awards came when her creations won best national costume at the 2002 Miss Bikini World and Miss Tourism World competitions held in Malta and Turkey. That same year she was awarded Longest Batabano Participant, having designed costumes for the annual festival for two decades.

By 2003 Ms. Dilbert had added a Golden Apple Award and the title World's Best International Fashion Designer to her growing repertoire. She'd won both while displaying her costumes at a podium exhibition in Russia.

In all, she has earned over 16 local awards for her festival costume contributions and has designed national costumes for numerous Miss Teen and Miss Universe participants.

Commenting on her Certificate and Badge of Honour award for services to the people of the Cayman Islands, Miss Dilbert says, "I am blessed and honoured that my work could promote Cayman internationally." She thanks her design partners, supporters and sponsors, past and present and now sets her sights on her September 2011 début at the London Fashion Week.

Mrs. Audrey Ebanks

Mrs. Audrey Ebanks

Born and raised in Savannah, the oldest sister to six siblings, Mrs. Audrey Ebanks soon became the family nurturer.

Now a gentle and modest octogenarian, throughout the years, she has steadfastly carried that nurturing quality into her community and church, becoming a source of strength and inspiration to all.

Her neighbours are richer for her work; never wealthy, she still helped many and while neither of her two marriages produced children, she became a mother figure to numerous children, most of whom still cherish her kindness today.

Widely known for her integrity, Mrs. Ebanks kept accounts for Cayman's first electric company (later CUC) for 25 years until her retirement. She then functioned in a similar capacity for Maedac Supply Company until failing health curtailed that work.

However, she remains involved in the Islands' drug rehabilitation services and continues as a member of Cayman Against Substance Abuse. She has also been an International College of the Cayman Islands trustee since its inception and has a certificate of appreciation for that.

Additional awards adorn the walls of her home, testifying to the level of community respect and appreciation for her contributions and work ethic: Service before self.

Equally revered for her involvement with Savannah's Church of God (Full Gospel) for the last 64 years, Mrs. Ebanks - Sister Audrey there - is still an asset. Over the years, she served as secretary, treasurer and Sunday school superintendent, positively impacting many young lives in the process.

And she is also venerated for serving as church preacher for two years after the pastor died and a replacement could not be found.

Today, despite failing health, Mrs. Ebanks continues to serve as treasurer to the church council and records sermons to be aired on their radio show, Gospel of the Kingdom Echoes.

For her numerous sterling qualities, Mrs. Audrey Ebanks is awarded the Cayman Islands Certificate and Badge of Honour, something others grasp more readily than she: "I was really surprised when the Governor called," she says, "And I still feel that way."

Mr. Rodney Alan Hansen

Mr. Rodney Alan Hansen

What began 19 years ago as a business interest for seasoned broadcast entrepreneur Rodney Alan Hansen grew into an abiding love for the Cayman Islands that was nurtured through broadcast television.

When two local businessmen with broadcast licences contacted him in California, Mr. Hansen contributed both the expertise and financing that enabled cable television in particular, to take root in Cayman. For 30 years, he had built cable companies in several US states, as well as France and Bermuda, but it was Cayman, where he is now a citizen, that captured his heart.

The Wisconsin native and ex-US Marine eventually bought out three licensees, merging CITN and CTS operations to provide free-to-air broadcasts and cable through Westar TV Ltd and Television Centre.

The company's free-to-air broadcast provides all three islands with entertainment, information and education through live news coverage - both local and international.

But television coverage of local events has forever changed how residents interact and prepare for natural disasters such as hurricanes. And Mr. Hansen's company has not only kept pace with Cayman's continuing political maturity but has also promoted it. Since 1996, people watch the country's general elections live.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan in 2004, his team produced a documentary titled 36 Hours which raised $2 million together with CITN's telethon for the Cayman Islands National Recovery Fund. The community also benefits from fund-raising events promoted by his station, including the National Council of Voluntary Organisations and the drug rehab centre.

Yet Mr. Hansen's positive impact goes even further. His leadership has helped establish significant social projects such as the Young Caymanian Leadership Awards Foundation that honours character and hard work, producing leaders and role models for younger generations.

Also, the station's Heart Smart Health Week focuses on healthcare and raises money for both the Cayman Islands Hospital and CI Heart Fund. Similarly, the annual Christmas for Kids programme raises funds for the Department of Children and Family Services.

He has also launched the Rod Hansen West Star television scholarship, providing an annual US$ 10,000 grant to Caymanian students studying communications. The first recipient is a full-time employee in his company; the second is currently studying in the US. His next venture, Mr. Hansen says, will be upgrading to a fibre optic network to better serve Cayman.

Mrs. Ellen Rose Sherman

Mrs. Ellen Rose Sherman

Bodden Town native Ellen Rose Sherman was raised in Cayman Islands during an era when the community was the extended family and everyone looked out for their neighbors.

That awareness regarding service to her fellows sparked a lifetime dedicated to helping others, which has now earned her the Cayman Islands Certificate and Badge of Honour for contributions to the civil service, the church and the community.

"My family's home was a refuge and safe place for anyone who needed care and protection and a hangout for all our neighbours, family and friends. Community spirit was high and these standards have remained with me," Mrs. Sherman says.

She spent 21dedicated years as a Civil Aviation Authority security officer, but found her greatest expression in serving the wider community. Especially interested in young people's involvement in sports, Mrs. Sherman did much to impact their lives, such as providing meals for those who attended Bodden Town's Annual Football Summer Camps.

As a chaperone for the Mustang Track Team 2007-2009, she also accompanied a young group to the Caribbean Union of Teachers Games and to Florida's Bay Area Youth Track and Field meet. She also frequently transported young people from the eastern districts' primary schools to the Truman Bodden Sports Complex for preparatory training.

"Sports development is an important avenue for young people to nurture a healthy lifestyle, a competitive spirit and the discipline needed to succeed later on in life," she comments. "I get great satisfaction from seeing our young Caymanians compete internationally Win or lose, I am always proud of them and of the part I played to get them to competition."

A stalwart in Bodden Town United Church, Mrs. Sherman has organized Sunday school events, sports days, garden parties and fundraisers.

But beyond sports and her church work, Mrs. Sherman is also keen to see Cayman's youth excel academically and as such has for many years actively supported the Bodden Town Primary School PTA. And her community service does not stop there, for she is also a member of the Bodden Town Beautification Committee.

Explaining that she feels humbled by the award, Mrs. Sherman notes, "I believe in doing whatever I can to help others, especially those who are less fortunate, without looking for a reward. I am satisfied just knowing that I am able to make a difference in someone else's life."

Ms. Ellen Rose Sherman has been married to Morris for 29 years. They have four children, seventeen grandchildren, one great-grandson and two step-children.

Lt. (sg) Dave C. Thompson

Lt. (sg) Dave C. Thompson

Lt. (sg) Dave C. Thompson has served the Cadet Corps since its inception eight years ago; for his dedicated service he is awarded the Cayman Islands Certificate and Badge of Honour.

"I feel that it's the moral responsibility of every citizen to get involved in activities that will help the youth, the community and the country," Mr. Thompson says and having served with the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service between 1978 and 1985, he certainly gained a better understanding of the problems facing Cayman's youth.

"In those days, I worked closely with Juvenile Court staff. They often asked me to counsel troubled youth who came before the Courts about the dangers of a life of crime. It struck me then that reaching young offenders before they went astray would make a world of difference to the community," he explains.

So when the opportunity to volunteer with the Cadet Corps came knocking in 2002, Mr. Thompson saw it as his chance to help transform young lives in the early stages and to set them on a positive path before negative influences could hold sway.

The Cayman Islands Cadet Corps helps youngsters aged 12 to 17 build character by teaching them life skills as well as practical survival disciplines. Cadet training focuses on leadership, team work, confidence, self-reliance, respect, citizenship and more.

Cadets can also participate in the Business and Technology Education Council programme, and earn up to four GCSEs.

While he has been involved in all aspects of the Cadet Corps, currently, Mr. Thompson's main role involves training new recruits.

"I feel rewarded when I see young people advance in all areas of their lives," he says. "I have seen so many grow in confidence, improve their relationships, develop a sense of national pride, live more structured lives and excel academically."

Expressing joy at his "unexpected honour," he notes that his success has in large part been due to support from Corps colleagues, as well as from parents, and cadets themselves.

In encouraging others to get involved with transforming the lives of youth, he says, "The days when children were to be seen and not heard are long gone; as a community, we must continue to do all we can to engage youngsters in fostering their own development."

Mr. Thompson is currently fleet manager at CUC where he has worked for the last 24 years. He is married, and has five children.

Ms. Zemrie Thompson

Ms. Zemrie Thompson

She has an office, but hardly spends time in there; her phone constantly rings but there is rarely a day with sufficient hours to respond to everything, for there is always someone needing a helping hand, a listening ear or a soothing touch.

These are the trademarks of Children and Family Services' Community Development Coordinator Zemrie Estella Thompson, whose services to the community and especially to the Islands' seniors, have brought her the Cayman Islands Certificate and Badge of Honour in the latest New Year's listing.

Ms. Thompson credits her capacity for selfless service, first to the Lord Jesus Christ and then to her mother, Mary Ann Frances Ramoon of Central George Town:

"I grew up in a house that was forever open to all. I don't know how she managed it, but in addition to everything else, my mother always had something to send over to neighbours. Today, she is my best friend - and she is my constant inspiration to do good things for others."

Having launched her civil service career as a Department of Education secretary, Ms. Thompson later transferred to the Department of Immigration where she was an immigration officer for close to a decade. A second transfer followed, to the Department of Children and Family Services where she has since been helping her community.

But even after 26 years of social service, Ms. Thompson shows no signs of slowing down. She speaks enthusiastically about the next 12 months that she plans to fill with home visits, shopping trips and computer classes for the elderly as well as events such as the seniors' wellness fair and the now famous annual seniors' retreat and October Celebration Bash.

"I always tell people you haven't partied until you have partied with the elderly!" she remarks.

So what keeps Ms. Thompson going? "I don't ever want any senior to feel neglected, unloved or lost and so by the grace of God I will continue to pray, guide and take care of everyone who comes my way," she says.

For further information contact: Wosila Rochester