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National Heroes Day: Order of the Cayman Islands Admissions

Eight outstanding persons have accepted admission to membership in the Order of the Cayman Islands and will receive their awards on National Heroes Day 2021.

“Admission to the Order is one of the highest national honours and awards in the Cayman Islands, and I congratulate each of these outstanding individuals.” Premier, Hon. Alden McLaughlin advised.

Nominations were sought from the public and 39 were considered by the Council for the Order of the Cayman Islands, which is chaired by the Hon. Chief Justice Anthony Smellie.

The award of “Officer of the Order of the Cayman Islands” will be conferred on the following four persons, who will be able to use the designation OCI after their names:

Ms Heather Bodden, OCI, Cert. Hon., JP – •    Ms Heather Bodden, OCI, Cert. Hon., JP – For devotion to sustained and selfless voluntary service within the community. Her many areas of service include being elected MLA for Bodden Town District from 1995 – 2000, a Justice of the Peace for 13 years, chairperson of the Cayman Islands Beautification Committee for 20 years, Young Caymanian Leadership Award (YCLA) Honorary Member for more than 20 years, chairperson of the Savannah/Newlands Community Group for most of her adult life and among many other activities for her people and her community. 

Dr. Gerald Smith, OCI – For longstanding contribution to the medical field in which he has practiced for more than 35 years and especially through his work in anesthesiology and instrumental leadership in the creation of the Anesthetic and Intensive Care Service at the Health Services Authority. Dr Smith also held the position of Chief Medical Officer for the Cayman Islands Government for many years. He served as chairperson of the Cayman Islands Medical and Dental Council and as a member of the Health Practice Commission.

Mr. John Edward Ebanks, OCI, Cert. Hon. – For contribution to improvement of the lives of others in the community. Mr. Ebanks’ voluntary and charitable work is widely appreciated on all three Islands. For more than 35 years as a member of the Lions Club, in all capacities, including as President from 1995-1996, he has exemplified what it means to go the extra mile in service to others, always showing optimism and good-will. As long ago as 1986 he was the recipient of the Melvin Jones Fellows Award, the most prestigious award in Lionism. He was voted Lion of the Month 17 times and Lion of the Year 6 times. Due to his service here in the Cayman Islands, Mr. Ebanks was appointed to various tasks at district level. He went on to serve as Zone Chairman, District Geriatric Chairman, Region Chairman Vice District Governor and District Governor and as Council Chairman of the Multiple District, the only Caymanian thus far to rise to such a high level of international service with the Lions organisation. In his official life he served, among other capacities, as Director of the National Roads Authority for several years and is currently the Chairman of the Board of Directors.

Nurse Shirline Henriques, OCI, Cert. Hon. – For significant contributions in nursing practice, leadership, education, research, hospital administration, as well as charitable works. Nurse Henriques’ tremendous work as a nurse is similarly reflected in her devotion to the community. The first Caymanian to attain a Bachelor’s of Science degree in nursing, she also obtained a Masters in Hospital Administration. She is known for her pioneering role in nursing education and in the care of AIDS patients. She served as Hospital Administrator from 2004 – 2008.

The following four persons, in accepting admission will be conferred as a “Member of the Order of the Cayman Islands” and able to use the designation MCI after their names:

Suzy Soto, MCI, Cert. Hon. – For enduring commitment to the preservation of Caymanian culture, her contributions towards the development of the tourism industry and health services. Mrs. Soto is a respected member of the Cayman Islands community who is known for her philanthropy and service.  She is responsible for the establishment of the not-for-profit organisation, the Cayman Heart Fund – the Islands’ first heart health advocacy group. She has been an advocate and fundraiser for the Cayman Seamen and the Islands’ Maritime Heritage..

Ms Reba Dilbert, MCI, Cert. Hon. – For outstanding work in the area of arts and culture. Ms Reba is an artist of international acclaim and renown, a popular and talented costume designer and seamstress dedicated to preserving traditional wear and costumes which celebrate and promote the local heritage. Her costumes have been showcased around the world and have garnered herself and the Cayman Islands international recognition. She has also contributed to the development of the tourism industry. She was the recipient of the Gold Heritage Cross at the 23rd Annual National Arts and Culture Awards ceremony, the Best National Costume award – at both the Miss Bikini World in Malta 2002 and the Miss Tourism World held in Turkey, also in 2002. In 2003 her costumes won her the Golden Apple award in Moscow, Russia.

Pastor Randall von Kanel, MCI – For outstanding charitable works and Christian leadership within the community. Pastor von Kanel can count among his achievements, starting the first school band at Triple C School and establishing the YMCA Chapter in the Cayman Islands where he served also as President for four years. He was the first Youth Director at the first Baptist Church from 1978 – 1980 and served as Pastor at the First Baptist and Cayman Islands Baptist Churches respectively from 1992 – 1998 and 2009 – 2020. Pastor von Kanel is well respected in the community as a leader  and youth advocate.

Delroy Jefferson, MCI – For outstanding and dedicated service to the people of the Cayman Islands, including throughout the COVID-19 response and for continued leadership in the medical field. Dr. Jefferson has been serving at the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority for 21 years. He currently serves as Medical Director and has played a critical role in coordinating care for suspected COVID-19 patients while ensuring continuity of services to non-COVID patients through innovations such as telemedicine.  His coordination with other doctors, oversight of the Forensic Laboratory’s handling of COVID-19 samples, and support in procuring critical supplies were essential for ensuring Cayman’s success story.  Known for his compassionate care and philanthropy he has participated in overseas mission trips and voluntary medical work in Haiti and Africa.