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Exceptional People, Exceptional Honours

Ms. Maxine Ethel and Ms. Maureen Helen Bodden

Honouring the official celebration of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's 85th birthday, His Excellency Governor Duncan Taylor, CBE has named five Caymanians to receive the Cayman Islands Certificate and Badge of Honour (Cert. Hon.).

Mrs. Marjorie Jane Bodden is honoured for services to the Air Ambulance Service, while twins Ms. Maxine Ethel and Ms. Maureen Helen Bodden are both recognised for services to the people of the Cayman Islands, especially the poor and needy.

In turn, Mr. Lendell Albert Layman gains recognition for services to the Cayman Islands community, while Mr. Philip David Glanmor Thomas is being honoured for services to the electricity industry in the Cayman Islands.

Individual awardee profiles

Mrs. Marjorie Jane Bodden:

Growing up in Savannah in the 1940s and 50s, no-one - least of all Mrs. Marjorie Jane Bodden herself - envisaged that one day she would touch hundreds of lives across the globe, earning her the respect and gratitude of acquaintances and strangers alike.

Awarded the Certificate and Badge of Honour for service to the community through her air ambulance service, Mrs. Bodden acknowledges that she never wanted to go into the 'air business.'

However, looking back after nearly four decades, she willingly gives the nod to an insistent neighbour for convincing her and husband Edward to take the leap in 1978, becoming founding partners of Executive Air Services.

One of the first of its kind, business was good and the company expanded its services to include search and rescue, photography and international charters.

But even as the Boddens experienced phenomenal professional success, life was seldom easy. Ironically, the woman who is lauded for transporting so many people to safety had herself endured immense personal tragedy, losing three of her four children.

Predating the business venture, she lost the first in 1960 when son Edward was diagnosed with spina bifida, living only a few days. A few years later, tragedy struck again; Deri, her younger four-year-old daughter, was fatally injured when run over by a car. Sadly, in 1985 Mrs. Bodden was forced to re-live the heartbreak when 23-year-old son Dwyane died in a plane crash shortly after taking off from Cayman Brac.

Asked how she managed to overcome such immense personal tragedy, her response is deeply philosophical and remarkably selfless: "I simply had to live up to the expectations of my children. They always looked to me as being strong - and because of that, I found the strength to survive."

But her work also brings her inspiration and strength: "No matter how down I am, the moment a call comes in, and I start working, I am driven to continue, through the night if necessary. I am blessed in what I do; it reminds me daily that others endure hardship as well."

A woman of enduring faith, Mrs. Bodden exhibits a deep love for her fellow man, reflected every time she puts a patient on a flight. "I pray for each one, my job is indeed a blessing."

Now in their seventies, the Boddens show no sign of slowing down, exuding an energy that is as contagious as it is almost tangible. Both remain close to their only surviving child, older daughter, Dale, and Mrs. Bodden still finds time to be the ultimate grandmother, making surprise visits to Miami to celebrate her granddaughter's birthday.

Ms. Maxine Ethel and Ms. Maureen Helen Bodden:

For twins Maxine Ethel and Maureen Helen Bodden, the youngest of four children and members of a well-known Caymanian family, giving has always been 'twice joyful.'

As they have for many years, the sisters provide substantial help, quietly and regularly, to countless people through the Walkers Road Church of God Chapel and through Triple C School, their alma mater, and their businesses. Scores more - elderly residents included - benefit on an individual basis.

Ms. Maxine Ethel and Ms. Maureen Helen Bodden

Now it is time for the givers to receive: the 65-year-olds are awarded the Certificate and Badge of Honour for their services to the people of the Cayman Islands, "especially the poor and needy." Their response? "We are humbled. We view what we do as God's work, done in the sheer joy of knowing we can make a difference in people's lives."

However, there are times when their desire to share with the community is neither quiet nor restrained. Each year this dynamic duo is behind the scenes, converting their South Church Street home and yard into a Christmas wonderland, a landmark tourist attraction that nightly draws numerous visitors, locals and tourists alike.

The twins readily acknowledge that they feel honoured to continue the tradition started by their beloved parents, the late Valda (nee Merren) and Capt. Theophilus (Theo) R. Bodden, OBE. "They were both such giving people and they also taught us to work hard and give back to the community."

In fact Ms. Maxine and Ms. Maureen have even expanded that festive tradition. Now, they invariably host Pines Retirement Home residents for an evening of live music, refreshments, and a chance to see and enjoy the lights and sights.

Busy year-round, they still find time every day to welcome into their home one or two special child guests who are in need of after school care and mothering. Some proud moments also occurred for Maxine (the elder by ten minutes) and Maureen, when they received Mother's Day tributes, acknowledging the fine job they do with their 'church children.'

Active in church at many levels, the twins re-double their efforts when it comes to a couple of their pet projects, the children's choir and decorating the church sanctuary for Christmas.

They are also justly proud that Maxine is one of the youngest persons to have chaired the board of trustees at their church, as well as to serve on the board of directors at Triple C. She currently chairs the church's Finance and Property Management Board.

However, for both Ms. Maxine and Ms. Maureen, the most telling testament in their experience is their true love for Cayman's needy persons. They feel that in this, as in other important aspects of their lives, they are richly blessed.

Mr. Lendell Albert Layman:

When Lendell (Len) Albert Layman moved to the Cayman Islands in 1991 he admits he wasn't a very community minded individual, but his association with the Cayman Brac Rotary Club and later the Grand Cayman-based Rotary Central, soon altered that.

It was 1999 when he was asked to represent Rotary Central on the local steering committee for the Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action (CAFRA). His focus was the Domestic Violence and Intervention Training Programme for law enforcement professionals.

Mr. Lendell Albert Layman

He never imagined then that his involvement would result in a decade-long advocacy drive against domestic and gender violence.

Soon after the training programme ended Len became a member of the National Committee Against Domestic Abuse (NCADA), which actively campaigned for a community-wide domestic violence training initiative. It was soon evident that Cayman lacked a safe shelter for abuse victims and in 2003, the committee's efforts saw the founding of the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre.

But neither his involvement nor his endeavours ended there. In 2008, the tragic loss of committee member, the late Estella Scott-Roberts, prompted a visit with Cabinet to make recommendations for policy that would target domestic violence. As one of the few male voices locally advocating for abuse victims, he was soon appointed chairperson of a special advisory committee on gender violence.

Just two years later, in September 2010, the Protection from Domestic Violence Bill passed into law without opposition.

Asked why he did it all, he responds simply, "The reward is the impact this work has had on the lives of victims." However, he also carefully adds, "It's sad, but if men were not involved in the struggle against domestic violence, then other men would probably not listen."

Today, he continues to advocate for victims, noting that though Cayman has made great strides in the struggle against domestic violence, compared to more developed countries, there remains a tremendous legislative and awareness gap.

Len likewise continues to serve the community through his involvement with Rotary, and has over the last eight years organised Rotary Central's long-standing Take a Kid Fishing Programme.

Much of his remaining time is spent on his back porch, sculpting bowls, flutes, pens and other items from wood, or entertaining his two cherished granddaughters, Katie and Abbie.

Mr. Philip David Glanmor Thomas:

National recognition for Mr. Philip David Glanmor Thomas stems from his dedication to keeping the Islands energised, and for helping develop and regulate the local electrical utility industry.

Trained in the UK as an accountant, it was in 1978 that Mr. Thomas travelled to Cayman with his wife Susan and their young children, Alison and Neal.

He was drawn into the electrical industry vortex while serving as Caribbean Utilities Company's (CUC) first financial controller. Promotion to financial director followed and, in 1985, he was appointed the company's managing director.

Mr. Philip David Glanmor Thomas

Reminiscing, Mr. Thomas says a highlight of his early years was refinancing CUC with lower-cost loans, during Cayman's boom years. "That permitted the purchase of new generators and the expansion of the transmission and distribution grid during a period of incredible expansion in demand for electricity," he adds.

In 2002 Mr. Thomas became one of government's first chief financial officers. Government ultimately enlisted him to establish the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA), which regulates Cayman's two electricity providers, CUC and Cayman Brac Power & Light.

Another career highpoint saw him working with a committee to draft the Electricity Regulatory Authority Law, which regulates the operations of electricity industry licensees.

He is still ERA's managing director and he explains that since the ERA caters to a progressive industry, one of its current focuses is the promotion of renewable energy.

That emphasis is already bearing fruit, for the ERA and CUC recently agreed on a 'Feed-in Tariff' system, whereby consumers with renewable energy systems can feed any excess power they generate into the CUC grid.

"And we very much favour increasing electricity production, especially by harnessing solar, sea and wind power, as well as waste-to-energy methods," he says.

Elaborating on other aspects of his electrical career, Mr. Thomas notes that, decades ago, he installed Grand Cayman's first mainframe computer for CUC. It was housed in a central building, with cables running along utility poles to connect it to the computer terminals across town. "It worked very well, apart from occasional lightning strikes," he says.

Today, in stark contrast, Cayman's modern computer network - encompassing fibre optics, microwave and 4G technology - has become a regional template.

Off the job, Mr. Thomas is community-minded and has been a Rotarian for over three decades. Currently a Rotary Sunrise member, the club last year presented him with a certificate commemorating his 30 years' of service.

And as a long-standing member of the Cayman Drama Society, he has also appeared in numerous stage productions. However, in his free time, Mr. Thomas most enjoys spending time with his family - especially his grandchildren, Abigail and Samuel.


For further information contact: Wosila Rochester