New National Heroes
Five new Cayman Islands National Heroes will be formally recognised during this year's National Heroes Day celebrations on Monday, 24 January.
They are being lauded for significant contributions to nation-building and community service in a number of areas including aviation, nursing, politics and culture.
The five join the two previously-named Cayman Islands National Heroes: the late Hon. James (Jim) Manoah Bodden and Mrs. Sybil Ione McLaughlin, MBE, JP.
The five new National Heroes (all of whom are deceased) are:
Mr. Thomas William Farrington, CBE, JP (1900 to 1978):
Named as a "Former Legislator and Father of the House...", Thomas William Farrington was a great contributor to the Cayman Islands community. Born in June 1900 to William Farrington and Elizabeth M. Parsons, he became one of Cayman's most outstanding citizens. He was a man of immense wisdom, persuasiveness and sincerity, especially in matters involving his beloved district of West Bay.
"Mr. Willie" as he was commonly known, exemplified what Caymanians represent. He become a civil servant in 1921 and until today he remains the longest-serving representative in the Legislative Assembly, having held his seat for 55 years. Mr. Willie was also the first elected member to be responsible for finance.
During the 1940s, he supported the establishment of what is today the John Gray High School. In 1959, he was among the first to be elected to the Executive Council after the first constitution was signed and in 1965, he became the first Caymanian to be honoured by Queen Elizabeth II as a Commander of the British Empire.
As a pioneer in the Cayman Islands Government, Mr. Willie led the House in legislation matters and was a founding member of the Christian Democratic Party. He was named 'Father of the House' both for his lengthy continuous service and for the wisdom and insight he displayed in matters of public interest. He was also a founding member of Cayman International Airways and played a major role in the development of Cayman's first airport and in discussions regarding Cayman's participation in the West Indies Federation.
His name was heard and known in every corner of the Islands because in the truest sense, he was a proud Caymanian, one who played a major role in crafting the Islands into the success story it is today. For his accomplishments as a husband, father, Justice of the Peace, Law Agent, church elder and civic leader, he will always be honoured.
Mrs. Sybil Joyce Hylton, MBE (1913 to 2006):
Remembered for "An outstanding commitment to youth", as the daughter of Edward and Jane Russell and wife of Wilfred Augustus "Conrad" Hylton, Sybil Joyce became Cayman's first probation and welfare officer As well as an extraordinary lifelong advocate for disadvantaged young people.
Mrs. Hylton became the Islands' sole probation officer in 1963, going on to serve as the first head of the country's Probation and Welfare Department until 1982. That was a role for which she was particularly well-suited and she revolutionised her department's work. Her background and training included years of volunteering with the Jamaican authorities, with whom she maintained a close relationship throughout her tenure.
By the time of her appointment, she was already lobbying government to rectify a number of inequities that confronted the Islands' youth. Her zest for championing issues such as the need for a separate court for juveniles continued into her retirement, as did her lengthy service on the Adoption Board.
And Ms. Hylton's exemplary commitment to young people extended to her private life; among other projects, she helped to develop the scouting movement in the Cayman Islands. Presenting her with a special award in 1972, the Nor'wester Magazine recognised her numerous contributions to young people.
She received the Cayman Islands Certificate and Badge of Honour in 1968 and was named a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) ten years later.
Mr. Ormond L. Panton, OBE (1920 to 1992):
"A very special son of Cayman...", Mr. Ormond L. Panton, OBE was one of the most prominent political figures in Cayman's history. Mr. Ormond L. Panton founded Cayman's first political party and was the first politician to win an election as party leader.
As a member of the National Democratic Party, he was heavily involved in politics and was the youngest delegate to attend the West Indies Federation discussions.
His professional skills combined with a relish for helping others and assured his success in many local trials. Mr. Ormond was regarded as an outspoken attorney, one who also achieved many firsts for his country.
In 1955 he succeeded in confirming his right to a fair trial - a right now enshrined in Article 14 of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. He was also lead negotiator between the UK and its Overseas Territories in discussions on independence. The first Caymanian attorney to appear before the Privy Council in London, he also introduced a motion to allow Cayman authorities to issue US visa waivers, thereby facilitating merchant marine employment for Caymanians.
A member of the Cayman Bar Association, Mr. Ormond also served as a director of Cayman Airways Ltd. between 1980 and 1984. He was also one of the first Chartered Rotarians of Grand Cayman. Honoured by Queen Elizabeth II in 1984, he became an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for his contributions to society.
Ormond L. Panton enjoyed working and interacting with people of all backgrounds. Having participated in many areas of community life, his biography described him as a 'very special son of Cayman.' His many outstanding qualities ensure that he will forever be honoured for his legal, political and personal contributions to the Cayman Islands.
Mr. Ormond married Naomi Bodden in 1942 and they had seven children.
Mr. Desmond V. Watler, CBE (1914 to 1994):
"His life stands as a sterling example..." is the tribute paid to Mr. Desmond Vere Watler -- an exemplary citizen and exceptional civil servant. Starting out as a 23-year-old clerk, his almost four-decade career saw him rise through the ranks to become in 1969, Cayman's first Treasurer, a title that was constitutionally changed to Financial Secretary.
Mr. Desmond became the first Chief Secretary of the Cayman Islands in 1972. He served in the Legislative Assembly for 32 years and was the First Official Member and Chairman of the Executive Council. He served in every area of parliamentary administration in the Legislature and regarded the provision of proper communications and the writing of tax haven legislation as being key factors in the progress of the Cayman Islands.
Equally active in the wider community, Mr. Desmond became a Chartered Rotarian of Grand Cayman in 1965 and was a lifetime church elder of the Gun Bay United Church, conducting services throughout all districts. He was honoured twice by Queen Elizabeth II, first in 1966 as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire and again in 1975 when he became a Commander of that Order.
Highly regarded for his soft-spoken demeanour, he became even better-known as a role model regarding standards of civil service integrity. His life remains a sterling example to today's young people, demonstrating that with hard work, dedication and commitment to excellence, it is possible to reach the top of the career ladder.
Mr. Desmond was the son of William Conwell Watler and Ursalina Valentina McLaughlin. He married Wilma Ryder in 1948 and had one child.
Ms. Mary Evelyn Wood, Cert. Hon. (1900 to 1978):
"Dedication and selfless service..." is how Ms. Mary Evelyn Wood, Cert. Hon. is remembered.
A true pioneer, Mary Evelyn Wood dedicated her life to bringing change to these Islands, for the benefit of the Caymanian people. She was born to Charles and Julietta Wood and was the youngest daughter in a family of six.
Miss Evie, as she was known, was the first woman ever elected to the Cayman Islands Legislature and was also the first to serve on a jury. Those groundbreaking achievements and more were products of her lasting commitment towards addressing the needs of the local community.
With a level of dedication towards others that was evident even at a young age, she was only in her early 20s when she started a small school in her father's home, serving as its sole teacher. Several years later, after receiving training as a practical nurse, she changed vocations, entering what was then known as "private nursing." That entailed visiting the homes of new and expectant mothers, in addition to sick persons around Grand Cayman. Her most notable service undoubtedly occurred during the typhoid epidemic of the late 1930s when she provided tireless care.
By 1957, an interest in women's rights led her to join hundreds of other women in signing the petition for female suffrage of that year, now commemorated in Heroes Square, George Town. After women won the right to vote in 1959, she joined Ormond Panton's National Democratic Party as treasurer and chair of the Bodden Town Committee. In 1962, she became that district's Legislative Assembly representative.
Aside from her participation in social and political life, Miss Evie was also active in the church. Her unstinting service to the community was recognized in 1965, when she received the Cayman Islands Certificate and Badge of Honour.
For further information contact: Lennon Christian